First of all, beware, there is no easy solution to refinish hardwood floors. Although, the job likes quite simple on the outside, a different reality exists. Therefore, if you are planning on refinishing hardwood floors, prepare yourself for some very long, gruelling hours. And, plenty of elbow grease, as well. Plus, lots of sweat.
Refinishing Hardwood Floors 101
Of particular importance, to the best of my knowledge, there is no book called “Refinishing Hardwood Floors for Dummies.” Although, maybe there should be. It seems, in today’s world there is a “dummy book” for this and a “dummy book” for that. Probably, one to refinish hardwood floors would be appropriately titled. Thus, having the book called “How to Refinish Hardwood Floors for Dummies.”
I say that, because the reality is, you have to be a dummy, to tackle the project in the first place. Unless, of course you have lots of free time. And, are looking for an athletic regimen, outside the gym. Thus, if you are hellbent to refinish hardwood floors in your home, you better get yourself psyched up, for a lot of sweat and toil, to see the job through.
Second of all, you’ll need a good supply of dust masks. Plus, a shop vac. And. plenty of bags for it. I recommend bags, because the fine sanding dust likes to clog up the filter. Hence, a lot of unnecessary air compressor blow-gun work.
Stripping the Hardwood Floors
The first thing to remember when wanting to refinish hardwood floors, is the stripping phase. Simply put, there is no easy way. Moreover, there is no chemical way to do it either. Some have tried. However, you mainly just create a huge fire-hazard. Plus, you run the extreme risk of burning the place to the ground. So, beware! There is no safe chemical method of stripping hardwood, in preparation for refinishing hardwood floors.
As you probably know, hardwood will last and last and last. Also, the older it gets, the harder it gets. Thus, hardwood floors that are 25 years old, are like steel in many ways. They will wear forever and ever!
However, sometimes evidence of that wear shows through. For example, in high traffic areas. Sometimes, a ‘trail’ appears. Mostly, it’s caused from the finish wearing off. Not, from the hardwood floor wearing out. Thus, there might be more of a need to refinish hardwood floors in such areas.
But, unfortunately, in for a penny, in for a pound. In other words, what you do to one area, you will also have to do to the rest. Likely, when you are going to refinish hardwood floors in one area, you will have to do it throughout. Therein, becomes challenge one.
Sanding and More Sanding
And, it all starts with stripping. None other, than sanding. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. Sanding, until all the previous finish is removed. Totally, 100%. Moreover, you should always go in the direction of the wood. In other words, sand parallel to the laying of the wood. Doing otherwise, can cause little swirls in the hardwood. These will become extremely evident and apparent in the staining phase, down the road.
However, about the sanding, the good news is that to refinish hardwood floors, most of the stripping is done with a large model floor sander. Typically, these are orbital. Furthermore, a variety of grits of sandpaper are available to you. Start with a very coarse one. For instance, an 18 or a 20 grit.
Then, keep on sanding until all the previous varnish coating and color are gone. Incrementally, and little by little, keep on increasing the sandpaper grit. Ultimately, you should end up with around 180 or maybe even 220 grit, to put the finishing touches on your impending refinished hardwood floor.
It’s likely that you will create mountains of sawdust too. Equally likely, is the fact that you will have to go over the floor, thousands of times! But, no worries about taking off too much. Eventually, you need to get back to a state of natural, original hardwood. That’s why be warned, it’s no small task to refinish hardwood floors.
Probable Sanding Challenges
Furthermore, the sanding pad is likely to “gum up,” as well. This is caused from the resin in the floor varnish or lacquer hardening, when it is sanded. A combination of the heat from, and, the abrasive movement of the sanding pad across the floor finish, makes it form little hard balls.
Hence, once that happens, you lose effectiveness totally. Your sandpaper just rides high, on these little stuck on, hardened, resin balls. Thus, losing its ability to be sanding the floor. Like it is supposed to be doing. Therefore, you must do one of two things. One, either swap out for a new sanding pad. Or, two, stop and manually scrape off the hardened resin balls from the existing sanding pad. Believe me, it is a very maddening process. And, surprisingly difficult, as well.
However, there is one little trick that we discovered, from all our years of doing it professionally. A trick, that helps with this problem regarding refinishing hardwood flooring. And, the hardened resin balls sticking to the floor sanding pad. Simply, get a bag of sandblasting medium. The glass stuff is best. Although, you can also use the regular sand. However, do not use the metal kind!
Then, spread it around on the hardwood floor to be refinished. Hence, getting a thin layer of sandblasting medium between the floor and the sanding pad of the sander. Thus, because of its abrasive nature, it helps scrape the nuisance finish off the floors more easily. Plus, it helps prevent gumming up the sanding pad in the process. Hence, it’s just a little technique that will save you a lot of aggravation.
Smaller Areas and Edges
Well folks, it’s all fine to use the big orbital sander in the open, unrestricted areas. But what about the corners, edges and other tight areas you cannot get, with the big sander?
In a word, down on your hands and knees. Henceforth, it’s necessary for you to get down on all fours. On hands and knees, to get those areas with either a belt sander, a palm sander, or by hand sanding. Sometimes, in the process of doing a proper job to refinish hardwood floors, you will need a combination of the three. At the end, the finished product will be a complete and total stripping of the hardwood floors to be refinished. Furthermore, it all must be returned to their original state, of virgin, untarnished, unstained and un-lacquered hardwood.
While it is underway, the task might seem like you are making little, or no progress. But, rest assured, persistence and dedication are the key. Little by little, the old finish will be stripped away. And, you will return to the beautiful original state, of the hardwood.
Once you are to that phase, you’ll be readied for the next. But, not before. The sanding and stripping process cannot be rushed. Plus, it must be done totally, entirely, completely and efficiently. Otherwise, the outcome on the refinish hardwood floors project cannot be guaranteed.
Approximate Costs Associated with Refinishing
In fact, to professionally refinish hardwood floors properly, you will have a cost attached of approximately $24.00 to $34.00 per square foot. Likewise, if you do it yourself. With the cost for your time and materials, it comes out to the same. Or, even more. Because of your lack of know-how. And expertise. As well as experience.
Thus, you can do the math. Amount of square feet, times $24.00, equals your approximate cost, on the lower side. Alternatively, amount of square feet, times $34.00, equals your approximate cost on the higher side. So, as you can see, it’s not small cost attached.
However, well worth it in the long run. Why? Because you will easily get another 35 to 50 years out of your refinished hardwood floors. Plus, you will not have the cost and mess of removal and disposal. Nor, the same for new installation of another flooring option. Instead, you will only have a single mess, with a single operation. What’s more, that can be tackled at your own speed. And comfort level.
Stripping Done | Now What?
Congratulations! After thousands of rounds with the sander, you’ve finally got your refinish hardwood floors project, back to the original state of the hardwood. Clean and clear. Of all finishes. That was the original goal, when you undertook the refinishing hardwood floors project, in the first place. But now what?
First off, you need to decide on a color scheme. Next, you’ll need a penetrating wood stain. A stain, in the color of your choice. Sometimes, you’ll decide on a ‘mottled’, or ‘flamed’ look. Like the one illustrated here. In which case, you will have to do two applications. In the two-color choices. Always, the dark one first. And, only highlighted in the spots needed. Then, a general application of the lighter stain. Hence, filling in the entire area. Plus, blending it all into a ‘flamed’ or ‘torched’ look.
But, for the most part, most of you will only be doing a single color. Therefore, once decided, get yourself a lint-free rag. Plus, a brush. Then, paint on the stain and ‘rub it out’ with the rag. Don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into rubbing it out, with the rag. This action will ensure the stain is consistent and uniform. It will require 48 hours drying time. Once done, you can assess if you would like it darker or not. If so, repeat the process. If not, leave it alone.
Refinishing Floors Stain Phase Complete
Now that you’ve got the floor stained to the desired color, you will need to apply a protective coating. Poly-urethane is best. Plus, it is the toughest. And, dries the hardest, quickest and most uniformly.
However, first things first. Decide on what sort of finished look you desire. For example, high gloss or matte. Semi-gloss or flat. Once that is decided, you will need to buy the poly-urethane, a high-quality lint-free roller, a paintbrush and a paint tray. Then, make sure everyone is out of the house. All day, for the entire day.
Next, turn off all blowers, fans, heaters, air conditioning, etc. It is imperative that you have a perfectly calm, non-moving air supply everywhere in the working area, when applying the poly-urethane. Although ventilation could become an issue, you must not even have the windows open, if it is a windy day. Or even breezy, for that matter.
Therefore, it is imperative to time this venture, for the proper type of day in the first place. But first, however, you need to give the entire floor a thorough vacuuming one more time. It is mandatory, to get rid of any and all dust and particles. There cannot be any. Absolutely none!
Now, once you’ve got that done, you simply take the poly-urethane, pour it in the paint tray, and roll it on to the entire refinish hardwood floors project area. Very thinly. And, very evenly. Again, going with the grain of the wood is best. For edges, corners, etc., apply a brushed-on application, in advance, of rolling the rest of the floors. What’s more, roll evenly and consistently throughout the entire floor. Once done, leaving the house, is best.
Of particular importance, the poly-urethane must have 48 hours on air-movement-free, drying time. Then, you can put on the next coat. And, so on. We strongly recommend a minimum of 3 coats. Of course, 5 are better. However, you suit yourself. Dependent, to a certain degree, how long you can be out of your house, while the stuff is drying.
Of equal importance, it is mandatory to do the vacuuming all over, once again, in between each coat of poly-urethane. Doing so, will give you an enviable look for the refinish hardwood floors. It ensures a smooth, ripple-free, bubble-free, finish on the refinishing of the hardwood floors.
That’s it. All there is to it. Still think you’re up for it? If so, we wish you well. However, if you need help, we’re always available to lend a helping hand. Just contact us below.
Other Unrelated Resources
Otherwise, you might be looking for some information about alternate flooring options. Additionally, it could be that you interest lies in Mexico real estate. Or, in particular, Puerto Vallarta Real estate. What about Bucerias things of importance, or stuff around Nuevo Vallarta, like, for instance, Paradise Village condos? Maybe, tips on buying your first home. Perhaps, having one designed and built from scratch. Additionally, there’s everything from interior design to the latest in deck and patio or maybe excavation and earth-work.
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