Hardwood floors add a lovely warmth and richness to a room. They can also add historical value as well as overall value to your home. Older homes with original woodwork and hardwood flooring are in much demand in some segments of the population. Not everyone wants a new house that is a cookie cutter of every other home in a treeless subdivision. Character and charm are difficult to duplicate in new construction, which leads many people to consider classic homes.
But as lovely as the idea of original hardwood flooring can be, after many years of use, there's a good chance they could use restoration. Refinishing hardwood floors is not an easy job, but it is worth it. Like many carpentry activities, preparation is the key to success. Here is a look at the steps you need to take to get your floors ready for bringing them back to life.
Sand the Floor
The first step is to sand the entire floor. This is labor intensive work, and it will likely be a weekend project for a few weeks. You can use an orbital sander, o you can rent a drum sander, but these are harder for the amateur to control. You will do three different passovers, with gradual finer grits of sandpaper. Start with coarse 30-40 grit, then switch to a medium 50-60 grit, and then lastly, a fine 80-100 grit. Use a tack cloth and a vacuum to get up the sanding dust in between each round. Unfortunately, machines won't be able to reach the entire perimeter. Even if you use a belt sander edger for the areas up against the wall, chances are, you will still need to do some of it by hand.
Inspect the Floor
Once you have sanded off all of the old varnish, inspect the floor carefully. You want to remove any stains, burns or other defects before you apply the wood stain and finish. Use full-strength bleach to remove stains such as pet urine or other discolored areas. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation while using the bleach, which can be quite noxious. If you have several areas to treat, you may want to do only one at a time so the household doesn't get overcome with the fumes. Pour the bleach directly onto the stain and allow it to sit undisturbed for an hour. You may need to repeat the process depending on the stain. Wash the floor in between treatments, and allow it to completely dry before treating again.
Once you have treated all of the stains, sand the area(s) down and use a thinned stain that matches the raw wood to act as a prime before proceeding to staining. Burns should be sanded and then treated with the same bleaching process. When all of the stains and burns are address, thoroughly clean the floor, ensure all wood dust is gone, and prepare to stain and varnish,
If this sounds like too much work, or especially if you have more than one room to do, it is probably in your best interest to hire a professional wood flooring refinisher. If the floor has any physical damage, such as large cracks or missing boards, a company like Kenton Carpet Care can help.