The Process: Refinishing Hardwood Floors
When you have an older home it's nice to keep some of the original charm in tact. Many things in the home need updating to keep it with the times and to keep up with modern day conveniences like automation systems and voice assistant technology. But some items in the home can really add value by being refinished. One thing that you can look at is hardwood floor refinishing to make your home look better. Hardwood flooring was a valuable feature to homes in the past and has increasingly become a valuable feature of homes today.
In cases where there is no hardwood floor in the home already, new hardwood needs installed. And it's a great alternative to carpet. Hardwood is easier to keep clean, it doesn’t stain as easily and it doesn’t hold dust as much. If the home already has hardwood floors, then the choices are to tear out the old and replace with new, or refinish the old to breathe new life into it. Hardwood floor refinishing utah is the more cost effective method and helps keep unique charm and character alive in an aging home.
5 things to know about hardwood floor refinishing.
- Signs that Your Floor Needs Refinished
- Sanding Off Old Finish
- Staining the Floor
- Applying a Clear Coat
- Appropriate Cure Time
Signs that Your Floor Needs Refinished
An older hardwood shows signs of needing an update by showing major blemishes or areas where varnish and stain are no longer visible. When bare wood is showing in high traffic areas of the floor it's time to refinish. If left unmaintained, bare spots on floors become problem-some ares with splinters; splinters don't feel good in feet.
There are ways to extend the life of high traffic areas like the use of rugs, but they eventually need redone. If there are minor scratches on the floor, then a complete refinish is unnecessary; touch-ups may be adequate. On a side note, another reason to refinish the floor is a color change; hardwood floor refinishing should be heavily contemplated in this case, because a floor has a limited number of refinishes in it before it needs replaced. The reason for a limited number of refinishes is because of the sanding process.
Sanding Off Old Finish
As mentioned previously, sanding is an important part of the process. In order for the new stain to soak in and to ensure color is consistent, all previous finishes must be removed. The best way to remove them is by mechanical sanding. In DIY applications you need to rent a drum sander with a vacuum to catch the dust.
You need to plastic off areas you are sanding from the rest of the house so that dust doesn't get on everything. If proper barriers aren't erect, saw dust will find its way into the rest of the house even with a vacuum attached. The vacuum is just to reduce the dust.
The sanding should start off with a lower grit and gradually work up to a higher grit to achieve a smooth, fine finish. After the sanding is complete, the floor must be perfectly clean. Sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping as many times as necessary is of utmost importance before moving on to the staining process, you don’t want a gritty floor.
Staining the Floor
Once the floor is sanded smooth, uniform and is perfectly clean it's time to start staining. On soft woods like pine it’s recommended that wood be treated with a pre-stain conditioner to ensure uniform color. Soft woods have the tendency to accept stains in a blotchy manner, leaving darker spots in random areas.
There are two categories of stains; oil-based and water-based. Oil-based is preferable because it penetrates wood grain cleanly and is easier to keep uniform. Water-based stains are not good for floors because they raise the grain and ruin the smooth sanding that's been done. The only application that a water-based stain would be required is for a vibrant color; oil-base stains are incapable of tinting vibrant colors and wouldn't have the same degree of color retention as water-based stains.
Stain can be applied with a rag or brush. If oil-based is used, the brush must be a natural bristle brush; if water-based, it must be a synthetic bristle brush. Once applied, let it sit for a few minutes then wipe off with a rag. It’s highly recommended to practice on a spare board or inconspicuous area, like a closet floor, before committing to the whole floor. After applying the stain, let it dry according to the manufacturers recommendation, typically 12 hours for oil-based, then it's ready for the clear coat.
Applying a Clear Coat
The clear coat is the most important part of the project to ensure a beautiful-looking, well-protected floor. There are several kinds of clears to choose from. The most common is polyurethane, which is typically available in three sheens: satin, semi-gloss or gloss. Polyurethane comes in oil-based or water-based versions. The water-base version doesn't raise the wood grain as long as a stain has been applied; if no stain has been applied, then oil-based is recommended.
Water-based is easier to clean up (soap and water), dries faster and stays clear over a long period of time. Oil-based cleans up with mineral spirits and continues to amber (becomes more yellow) over time. Oil-based takes longer to dry between coats, but that's not necessarily a bad thing because a longer working time helps to guard against inconsistent application.
The clear can be applied by brush or floor applicator; rollers aren't recommended because they cause bubbles. If using water-based, then use a synthetic brush; if using oil-based, then use a natural bristle brush. The key to applying the clear is to keep a wet edge. The manufacturer's label must be read, but most clears need sanded between coats and require 2-3 coats to properly protect the floor. Remember, you're not just making it look good, you're making it last a long time; that's why the manufacturer’s recommendations are important.
Appropriate Cure Time
The label will say how long the clear coat must cure before light foot traffic, heavy foot traffic and placing furniture back onto floors. The typical cure time for light foot traffic is 24 hours. The typical cure time for heavier foot traffic is 72 hours. And the typical cure time for placing furniture and rugs on the floor is 1 week. Altogether, one room will typically take 10-11 days for the complete process: 1 for sanding, 1 for staining, 1-2 for applying the clear coat and 7 for the full curing process.
It's important to be prepared and familiar with every step of the process to keep your floor looking beautiful. Hardwood floor refinishing utah is a great way to keep your home beautiful and charming. Refinishing the DIY way saves serious dough if done right, but when in doubt, there’s the option of calling a professional to ensure a beautiful long lasting floor.