Sunday, June 7, 2009

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors As A Alternative To Replacement

Refinishing your hardwood floors is an excellent alternative to replacing them with engineered or snap together products. It’s also very cost effective and can turn out to be the best investment for the future value of your home. If you are ambitious, you can take on this project yourself by renting the equipment required, and having patience and some time to do the job. If not, there are many professional refinishers available in most areas that can be used to do a speedy, efficient job. Get an estimate from a professional in any case. It can be very satisfying to know how much money you are saving if you do the job yourself.

It’s actually not that difficult to refinish a wood floor yourself. You’ll need a drum or belt sander and multiple grades of sandpaper to go with it. You can rent the sander from your local hardware store, and most likely, they can suggest the grades of sandpaper you will require. Standard grade is about 20, but you may need up to 100 to get gouges and real rough spots out. Be sure to also obtain dust masks for you face, or a respirator, as you will be generating lots of wood and finish dust. You might want to isolate the room you are doing away from other rooms in your house with plastic sheeting. Ventilation in the work area is a must. You have removed all the furniture and wall hangings like paintings from the room, right?

Before you start sanding, check the floor for any nails, staples or tacks that may be protruding above the surface. These things can tear up your sandpaper quickly and even ruin the sander belt or disk if they are not removed. The key to good sanding is to keep the sander moving and go with the wood grain, not across it. If you stop while the sander is running, you may produce a gouge or burn in that area. You should also consider wearing ear protection while doing this job. These sanders are loud. Don’t wear very loose fitting clothing that may get caught by the sander. Gloves are very helpful as well.

After your finished sanding, clean the area extremely well by first sweeping up with a broom, then a shop vac and finally a damp mop. Let the floor dry and settle overnight. Damp mop again the next morning and allow to dry a few more hours.

What type of finish did you decide on? Three coats are usually required, the base coat, the color (if used) and the top coat for durability. Pick from an oil based or polyurethane, water based finish. If you select an oil based finish, you need to decide if you want a satin, semi gloss or gloss finish. A satin oil based finish, just like a semi gloss or flat wall paint, hide blemishes better. Water based products dry much more quickly and resist any yellowing that might occur. PLEASE pick a corner and try your stain selection BEFORE you finish the entire floor. I can’t stress this enough. If you are satisfied with the results, you can apply the stain to the rest of the floor using a brush or roller and evening it out with a clean soft rag. Be sure to let the coats dry according to the manufacturer’s directions. Remember, again, ventilation is REQUIRED for you and your room.

Refinishing is a means to increase durability of your floor and enhance its appearance, and is a three-stage process of sanding, staining, and finishing that CAN be done yourself.