Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors
Hardwood flooring can increase your property’s value, whether it’s residential, commercial, or investment. Hardwood floors are long-lasting, easy to maintain, and can improve the aesthetic of any room. If you’ve recently purchased a property with wood flooring and want to rejuvenate its natural wood beauty, refinishing your floors can give them new life. While refinishing your own floors can be a rewarding DIY project, expert flooring companies ensure a quality finish and professional-level attention to detail.
If this is your first experience owning a home with hardwood floors, we’ll explain why you need to refinish, and when to tell whether or not your wood floors are in need of refinishing. We’ll walk you through the refinishing steps and give you the tools to decide whether you’re ready to call a flooring expert or take on the job yourself.
When to Refinish
You can recognize a floor that needs to be refinished when its appearance begins to change. If your floor is dingy and you can’t seem to get it clean, if there are deep scratches or heavy wear, or if the floor looks dry and dull compared to its original finish, it’s a good candidate for refinishing. Widened gaps between or within the floorboards may also indicate that it’s time for a refinish.
You might also choose to refinish your floor proactively to keep your flooring looking young and vibrant. Selecting a new varnish and water-based or oil-based finish for your flooring can transform the look of a room. If you’re looking to sell a property with hardwood floors, a refinish can add class, sophistication, or contemporary contrast to your home’s aesthetic.
Keep in mind that wood flooring, depending on the thickness of the boards, can be sanded down and refinished only up to about ten times. The best course of action for preserving natural wood and engineered wood flooring is maintaining and protecting it throughout its life. Regular cleaning, occasional deep cleaning, and using felt pads under furniture are some of the best methods for protecting your floor’s finish.
Many people choose to refinish their floors to rejuvenate the look of the floor. You now know that hardwood floors in need of a refinish will look dull, dingy, cracked, or gapped. But appearance alone isn’t the only reason.
Hardwood flooring is an investment in the property that will almost always increase the value of the home. Maintaining and refinishing hardwood when it needs to be will increase its investment value. A new finish might also have an immediate impact on the value of a home, including in the asking price for properties currently on the market.
If your finish is outdated and the floor has been well maintained, you might choose to refinish before the floor begins to show signs of wear or dullness. Interior design trends change as quickly as any other creative trend, and outdated finishes can make your home look outdated. If you like interior design and can invest the time and resources into refinishing, it can drastically improve the environment in any room.
If you’ve decided to refinish, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll want to complete the project on your own or hire a flooring professional to do the job. Larger home improvement stores will often have all of the materials and equipment you’ll need to refinish your floors. The exception to this rule is in the selection of stains and finishes that may or may not be available to you. Flooring companies often have more variety to offer and can walk you through the selection process. Some flooring companies sell refinishing products, even if you choose to do the job yourself.
Assuming you choose to refinish your floors on your own, you should allow a few days (3-5, minimum for 500 square feet or less. You’ll need to rent or purchase a drum sander and edger sander, which you can often find for rent at hardware or home improvement stores. You will also need the following:
- Your choice of finish
- Your choice of stain
- An Orbital sander
- A walk-behind finisher
- Ear protection
- Additional sandpaper
- Nail puller
- A shop vacuum for sanding dust
- Dust mask
- Safety goggles
- Plastic sheeting
- Knee pads
- If using polyurethane floor finish, a respirator
Be aware that many sanders now include a self-vacuuming system, which you can ask about when you rent your equipment. Rooms being refinished should be well ventilated, and you should wear durable clothing that you’re not afraid to get dirty. Be prepared to remove or protect your base molding, and store them in a way that returns them to their original positions along the edge of the room.
Once the baseboards are removed, flatten any nails that are protruding from the floor. You can then begin sanding, starting with the coarsest grade sandpaper in your arsenal. Move the sanding machine so that you overlap one-third of its previous path continuously. Do not skip over the re-sanding process, using finer and finer sandpaper each time you sand.
Once you’ve finished a complete sanding and you’ve created a smooth surface throughout, sweep and vacuum the floor one more time. Make sure no debris remains on the floor, and prepare your staining materials. Apply the wood stain, and allow adequate time for the fresh stain to dry. Although non-penetrating wood stains can take weeks to dry, most color stains will be dry within 2-3 days. One coat of stain may not be enough to give you the color you’re reaching for but should be allowed to dry before applying a fresh coat. Once dry, you can then apply the finish. Finish dry times vary greatly, with the fastest drying being the most difficult to apply evenly and the slowest drying being the most level, high-gloss finishes.
If you choose to refinish your floor on your own, be sure to purchase enough materials for your space and bring the elbow grease! Double-check, so that you don’t get caught with too little stain or finish during the project. When applying color stains and finishes, test a small area of the room before applying it to the entire floor so that you can ensure even color and a smooth finish. Some floors may need small holes and deeper scratches refilled with a trowel filler, which has its own guidelines for use, based on the time of year.
If You Don’t Know Where to Begin
If shopping for stains and finishes has overwhelmed you, fret not. Professional floor refinishers can refinish hardwood floors and guide you through choosing the best stain color and type of finish for your solid hardwood floor. They’ll have all the equipment needed to do a professional job, like an industrial floor buffer and walk-behind sander. They can answer your questions about anything related to hardwood floor refinishing, including whether your flooring would be better off replaced or deep-cleaned.
When consulting a professional flooring company, be sure to compare rates and get a second or third opinion. Make sure the company you choose listens to your preferences and needs for the space and thoroughly answers your questions. Choose a company with experience and a good reputation within the community, both physical and virtual. Finally, choose a business that’s networked with local manufacturers, mills, and distributors to guarantee the best selection of products, like oil-based polyurethane, oil-based stain, water-based polyurethane, and other water-based products. Your flooring contractors should offer high-quality refinishing services with reasonable labor costs, which may be based on the feet of flooring that need refinishing.