As your hardwood flooring ages, it can become dull, scratched, stained, and imperfect. Hardwood flooring refinishing spruces up your living space, making it appear brand. It is one of the advantages of using hardwood flooring. You can incur a high cost to refinish hardwood floors. However, you can turn it into a DIY project to save money as you gain a new skill.
Refinishing allows you to unlock the hidden beauty of the used hardwood flooring. Genuine hardwood flooring can withstand 10-12 refinishing and sanding in its lifetime. However, engineered hardwood floors refinishing is done once or twice in its lifetime, depending on the thickness.
Remember, though you can save money from a DIY project, a mistake can be costly. Below are the steps for hardwood floor refinishing you need to follow.
Step by Step Guide to Refinish Hardwood Floor
Step #1. Get All the Tools and Materials
To refinish hardwood floors, you will need the following materials and flooring tools.
- Small pry bar
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Edger sander
- Painter’s tape
- Drum or belt floor sander
- spackle knife
- Plastic Sheeting
- Respirator mask and protective eyewear
- wood filler-
- 40, 60, 80, and 120 grit sandpaper to fit each sander
- Tack cloth
- 120-grit sanding screen
- Denatured alcohol
- Sanding pole
- Optional oil-based stain
- Optional stain applicator
- #2 fine steel wool pads
- smooth foam roller
Step#2. Prepare the Room
Remove all the rugs, furniture, and window treatment from the room. Then, use the painter’s tape to cover the electrical boxes and vents, preventing dust from collecting in these areas. After, use needle-pliers remove staples or nails from the floor. If there are loose boards, this is the time to nail them in.
Step#3. Repair and Patch
The next step in instructions for refinishing hardwood floors is to patch and repair. First, inspect the floor to check for large cracks and holes, which you should fill using a spackle knife. In cases where there is extensive flood damage, you can use a trowel filler, a thin wood filler that spreads to cover a large area. You can use a putty knife for application. Then, use a damp rag to wipe off debris if it dries completely.
Step#4. Sanding the Floor
You will need to retrieve your drum sander for this step. Working with a drum sander can be challenging, leading to floor damage when mishandled. You also need to wear protective gear when operating this tool.
The first step when sanding refinishing hardwood floors requires you to use 40 grit sandpaper. It removes scratches, old finish, and dings. Work 3-4 square feet moving with the grain. If the sandpaper wears down, replace it regularly. Maintain a steady pace emptying the dust bag on frequently. Next, repeat the same process with 60, 80, and 120 grit and wipe the dust from the floor or vacuum after each step.
Step#5. Buffing the Floor
If you want to achieve that perfect and smooth finish, you cannot miss this step. Buffing removes tiny sanding marks, and you can use an industrial buffer or a pole sander. You will also need a 120 grit sanding screen to buff the floor along the grain on each board.
Step#6. Prepare the Floorboards for a Sealer or Stain
The next step in this step-by-step guide to refinishing hardwood floors is ensuring the room is fully clean. You want to get rid of small debris, hair, or sand that can negatively affect your finish. Therefore, you will wipes down the walls to prevent falling dust and then use a sticky tack cloth to achieve this goal.
Mix one part denatured alcohol with two parts water and spray the floor using a pump sprayer. Then, use a mop or rag to spread the solution evenly. It allows the wood grains to accept the stain as they rise. Then, you can allow the floor to dry for 30 minutes.
Step#7. Use Stain
Though this step is optional, you can refinish and stain hardwood floors. Once you have followed all the above steps carefully, you can now apply a sealer or stain. If you have been thinking of using a different wood color, add a stain. Contractors that refinish hardwood floors advise you to choose an oil-based paint with your desired color.
Before applying, ensure the room has enough ventilation, and you have worn a respirator mask as the stain has harmful emissions. Apply using a staining sponge. Dip it in the paint, wring to remove excess liquid, and work from the room’s corner towards the exit to avoid stepping on it. As you apply, avoid pooling and spread along the grain in 3-4 foot sections.
Do not let the edges dry, and be keen on where each section meets the next. After staining, leave it for at least 24 hours for it to dry thoroughly. Then, you can apply a second coat following the same steps to get your preferred color.
Step # 8. Sealing the Floor
The last step in refinishing old hardwood floors is the application of the sealer. Sealing your newly-refinished flooring protects it from scratches, dings, and water damage. Additionally, the sealer adds more luster and a refined look to the wood.
Commonly, many contractors use polyurethane sealers. However, you can buy water or oil-based product. It settles on the hardwood offering excellent protection, and it is low-maintenance. When using this sealer, keep the room well-ventilated and wear a protective mask.
To apply, ensure the floor does not have dust or hair using a tack cloth or vacuum cleaner. Then, using a smooth sponge roller, apply the polyurethane. It is easier to use a paintbrush around the room edges. Also, apply it along the grain, working with small sections.
Additionally, you need to apply several coats. When doing so, ensure the floor dries completely in between coats. Also, buff the floor in between coats. You can use a machine buffer or a #2 fine steel coat. The more sealants you have during floor hardwood refinishing, the more protection.
Start from the furthest room corner as you move towards the exit door. Wait for 24 hours before walking on the refinished floor and 72 hours before replacing the furniture. In addition to polyurethane, you can use:
- Wax: Wax is a trend that is coming back as a preferred finish. However, it is not as durable and highly labor-intensive.
- Natural oil finish: for example, you can use tung oil. It is ideal if you are conscious of the environment. However, it does not provide much protection or the much-desired sheen on the floor. They also have high maintenance.
These simple steps will guide you in your sanding and refinishing hardwood floors DIY project.