December 15, 2022

A Homeowner’s Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Top view on a newly opened can of wax, varnish, oil, paint on a freshly painted wooden surface.

In 2022, hardwood floors increased home and property values by at least three percent. Besides worth, these flooring options are elegant additions that can fit any homeowner’s preferred aesthetic. But enjoying the benefits of hardwood flooring doesn’t mean installing new ones. Even decades-old floorboards can offer the same value and perks with proper maintenance and refinishing. While a refinishing job costs less than installation, professional services are still costly. This guide on refinishing hardwood floors is for homeowners who want to bring back the luster of their flooring.

Preparing the Room or Area

Start preparing the room or area where you’ll be refinishing the floors by clearing them off furniture, window treatments, and rugs. You can also remove wall décors that can fall at any time during your project, including hanging indoor plants. Clearing the entire room of all objects will help prevent dirt and grime from dropping on the deep-cleaned flooring.

Cover every vent and electrical box using painter’s tape to avoid dust entering the ducts and electrical work while cleaning your hardwood floors. When refinishing one room or a smaller area, it’s better to use plastic sheeting to seal the doors.

Using a pry bar, remove the base molding gently. You can also remove the small piece of quarter round to leave the rest of the boards in their place. Before you remove any molding pieces, number them with a pencil to easily replace them after the project, and use need-nosed pliers when removing any nails or staples. Check all wooden planks and nail down the loose ones.

Replace or Repair Damaged Boards

Make a thorough inspection of your floorboards to check if there are large holes or cracks needing repair. Use a wood filler and a spackle knife to fix these minor gaps and let them dry completely. When you have floors with more damage, use a trowel filler and a large putty knife for application. Unlike other wood fillers, a trowel filler is thinner, making it ideal for covering large areas of cracks or gaps.

Mark the hardwood planks in need of replacement. Heavily damaged boards can shorten the lifespan of other parts of the flooring. Before you refinish, change and repair all ruined planks and wipe them down using a rag to get rid of all the debris and dust. Make sure the floors and fillers dry out before you sand them.

Sand the Floors

Depending on your hardwood flooring, you can sand your floors several times during its life. But some refinishing projects don’t require sanding the floorboards before applying finishes or stains. Check on the condition of your hardwood floors after deep cleaning, and consider sanding if they still look dull or dingy.

When you sand hardwood floors, using a drum sander is both convenient and challenging. Inexperienced remodelers can make mistakes with it, resulting in more damage. Ask for a tutorial and pointers on how to use the equipment upon renting or buying. Instead of using it immediately on your floors, practice sanding on a sheet of plywood until you can handle it.

Start moving the sander forward at a slower pace. Engage it when moving, and disengage whenever you stop. Cover your face with a respiratory mask and opt for eye protection, as the dust can cause breathing difficulties and sight problems.

You may need different types of sandpaper when sanding every part of the room. Very coarse papers are for heavy-duty work like removing scratches and old finish. The procedure will leave a rough surface. Once the floor color is uniform, repeat the process with less grainy sandpaper until you reach smoother flooring. Vacuum and wipe the floor between each process and use fine-grit paper to achieve a professional-quality sand finish.

Prep Your Finish and Stain

After sanding and buffing your flooring, do another round of cleanup to ensure that the area or room is devoid of sand, debris, or dust. Any form of dirt or material can affect your finish and stain. Wipe the walls to prevent dust from falling, and use a shop vacuum with a brush head to tidy up your hardwood floors. Follow this with a sticky tack cloth to get rid of other particles.

For even penetration of wood stain, you can use the water-popping technique. The method uses a mixture of denatured alcohol and water. Start spraying the mixture with a pump sprayer for a consistent coating over the entire floor. You can use a rag or mop to distribute the solution and let it dry for at least half an hour. The method causes the wood grains to rise, making it easier for the stain to seep in.

Apply Sealers

After drying out the stains you applied, finish the project by sealing the floor. Sealants act as the hardwood’s protective layer from water damage and scratches while adding luster and shine to enhance the appearance of the wood.

The most popular type of hardwood sealer is Polyurethane and is available as water-based or oil-based sealants. Polyurethane sealers stay on top of the wood and do not soak in. Due to that, it provides excellent protection from spills and scratches while needing little to no maintenance. In addition, it comes in varied finishes like glossy and matte.

When applying sealants, make sure the area is well-ventilated and wear a respirator mask. Hardwood sealers have an intense industrial smell that can affect your health when inhaled. Let the sealer dry for 24 to 72 hours before carrying the furniture and décor back inside the room.

Hardwood Refinishing in Austin

Refinishing old hardwood floors isa more cost-efficient way of updating your home’s wooden flooring. While professional refinishing services are available, hiring them is impossible, especially if you’re on a tight remodeling project. This homeowner’s guide shows you the step-by-step process of refinishing your floors without overspending. In starting this DIY task, check how to use the necessary equipment and apply stains and sealants.  Doing these things can help you achieve professional-looking floors instead of a bad refinishing job.

Learn more about hardwood refinishing in Austin, TX, by contacting Kelly Hardwood Floors today!