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How To Refinish a Hardwood Floor

We’re often asked about how to refinish a hardwood floor. We’re passionate about hardwood flooring, and we love to de-mystify this simple and straightforward process.

Sanding

The first step in refinishing your hardwood floor is to sand away the wear and tear. You’re going to need to rent yourself a large, floor sander – the kind you have to walk behind. You’re also going to want to rent a smaller, hand held sander to help you get into those hard to reach spaces (corners, doorways, etc.)

Repair

Once the sanding process is done, you’ll want to continue your hardwood refinishing process by smoothing out the floor and using wood putty and a knife to fill in any spots created by nicks or gouges. Follow the wood putty instructions to the letter. Let it dry according to the packaging instructions and then gently sand the affected areas with sandpaper.

Cleaning

Then, after that’s done, it’s time to move on to step 3 in the hardwood refinishing process: wipe down everything. Wipe down walls, moldings to remove all dust and residue. You definitely don’t want any dust on the floor when you apply your finish.

Get yourself a good shop vacuum, any will do. Take extra care to do a great job of cleaning up all the dust. Wipe the floor down with cloth, we recommend tack cloth. And you’ll need several, so stock up!

Apply your finish

Next step in refinishing your hardwood floor is to decide on the finish you’ll be using. There are several to choose from. Each has their own strengths and weakness.

You have three options:

Polyurethane: It comes in two varieties: oil based and water based. It also comes in a variety of lusters and has a certain degree of plastic to the look. Either kind darkens or gives a yellow hue to your flooring, though some water based brands yellow less than others. This finish is great for high volume areas, but it isn’t easy to spot repair if scrapes, cuts, nicks and scratches occur, which is likely to happen.

Varnish: you can find it in an array of lusters. Everything from matte to glossy. The glossier you get the better it is at standing up to long term wear and tear. It also darkens with age, so that may be an issue for you, depending on your colour preference for your floor. One of the main advantages is that it’s very easy to spot repair.

Penetrating sealer: It’s the most natural looking finish of the three, but it too darkens over time. It offers really good protection, especially if you wax it. On the downside it is the least durable of your options. On the plus side, it is the easiest to repair.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll do all this work on the same day. You don’t want any moisture getting in your open wood. Put the stain on with a sheepskin applicator. Be careful to apply evenly and don’t use too much.

Once it’s dried, buff the floor. Then vacuum and wipe with your tack cloth. Apply your first coat of finish. Then, after 24 hours, apply the second coat. Then you will have successfully refinished your hardwood floor.

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