Refinishing Hardwood Floors 101

If you are lucky enough to have an old home, you likely have plenty of hardwood floors as well. While hardwood floors are lovely, after a century of wear and tear they probably don't look quite as beautiful as they once did. While some homeowners decide to replace these floors with new materials or carpeting, this can drastically reduce the value of your home. In some cases, such as if the house itself is on the historical register, changing the flooring may not even be allowed.

Refinishing hardwood floors is a gigantic, time-consuming chore, but the results are worth the trouble. While it's not a difficult job for the do-it-yourselfer, it's easier if you have a little previous experience, such as refinishing a piece of furniture. Here are the basic steps you will need to follow to bring back the beauty of your floors.

Prepare The Room

The first step is to get the room ready. Of course, this includes removing all of your belongings and relocating to another area of the house, but it also includes things like removing any floor vents or wall registers.

You will also need to remove the quarter-round molding that goes around the perimeter of the room. Depending on how elaborate your woodwork is, you may need to remove the baseboards as well. Many times, people choose to refinish the woodwork at the same time as the flooring, especially if it is dull or has been coated in paint over the years. It is extremely important to mark each piece as it comes off, labeling both the molding piece and the wall above it.. Develop a system and draw a rough map of how the room should look, or you will be left with a huge puzzle, and headache, when it comes time to put it all back together.

Lastly, depending on the room you are refinishing and its proximity to other areas of the house, you may need to devise an alternate way of moving around the house. For example, if you are refinishing your dining room, which is the only way to the kitchen, you will need to rig an alternate path, such as through a kitchen window, or set up a temporary kitchen in the basement or garage.

Sand The Floor

You will need to rent a random orbital sander, and it will require three passes to properly prepare your floor. Start with a coarse grit, 30-40, then medium, 50-60, and then finally, fine grit, 80-100. You will need to use the same process along the wall perimeter and areas where the machine won't reach, using a detail sander and palm sander. Be sure to use a shop vacuum to remove all of the dust in between sandings.

Vacuum And Clean

Use the brush cleaner attachment on your vacuum cleaner to vacuum everywhere. When you think you are done, vacuum some more; any dust will ruin your refinishing job. Use mineral spirits to "wash" the floor when you have finished vacuuming.

Staining And Sealing

If you want to change the color of the wood, you will need to apply a stain, using a pre-stain conditioner first. If you don't want to stain it, simply apply sealer according to the manufacturer's directions, and then lightly sand again with a super fine grit sandpaper, 320.

These are just the basic instructions. Be sure to do additional research before undertaking this project. If this sounds like it is outside your scope of expertise or if you don't have the time required, hire a contractor, such as REMODEL EXPERTS, to handle the remodeling job for you instead.