Sanding is a key part of hardwood floor refinishing. It removes old finish to make the wood ready for a new layer of protective coating.
A drum or belt sander is usually the best tool to use. However, they can be a pain to maneuver into tight spaces, so consider renting smaller shop-size sanders if you need to.
Choose the Right Grit
Before sanding your hardwood floor, you need to decide which grit to use. The grit will determine how well your wood floors are sanded and whether they’ll look nice and shiny after you apply a new stain or sealer.
The first grit you choose should be coarse enough to remove the existing finish without leaving deep scratches in the surface of the wood. Then you should use progressively finer grits to polish out the scratches and make the wood ready for a new finish.
Ideally, you want to use a sanding sequence that starts with coarse abrasives and progresses to progressively finer grits, using a smooth-sanding pattern. Skipping any grit in the sequence can result in a peak-and-valley profile that leaves unsightly sanding marks and makes it difficult to finish the floor without uneven staining.
Coarse grits include 12 through 20 grit, while medium grits are 24 through 36 grit. They’re designed for primary sanding of rough, planing marks on the wood and for removing previous finishes, such as light coats of polyurethane.
The final grit in the sequence is 100 grit, which will remove any remaining scratches left by the lower grits and prepare the wood for staining or sealing. You can also sand the edges with a small orbital sander or floor edger, as this will leave a more gentle sanding mark than a drum sander.
Sanding with a floor sander creates a lot of dust, so you need to take extra precautions to clean up all the debris. Start by cleaning the room in which you’ll be working and vacuuming it to remove all of the grit.
Another good idea is to keep a bucket or basket nearby that you can use to scoop up the leftover dust. This helps you avoid spreading the grit into other areas of your home, and it also prevents the dust from settling into the air.
If you’re sanding floors in an area that has heavy traffic, you may need to go harder than usual with the grit you choose. For example, a maple floor that has not been sanded in years may require 36-grit sandpaper, while a wood floor with a heavy stain on it should use 24 or 16-grit sandpaper.
Clean the Floors
When it comes to cleaning your hardwood floors, the best way to keep them in tip-top shape is to stick to a regular cleaning schedule. This will help you avoid a lot of messes and damage.
First, you should clean up spills as soon as they happen. Even if they are small, the splatters can get stuck to the floor and make it look grimy. This is especially true for juice splatters and food crumbs.
Another problem with hardwood floor sanding near me is that it can get scratched by shoes, pets and other items. This can really damage the appearance of your floors and can require you to spend time and money on wood floor scratch repair.
One way to prevent scratches on your floors is to keep them swept and vacuumed daily. This helps remove dirt and debris that could otherwise scuff the wood, says Alicia Sokolowski, an expert in hardwood floor cleaning and restoration.
Next, you should mop your floors regularly. Mopping high-traffic areas like the foyer, kitchen, and bedroom once a week is ideal for removing debris that could scuff the floor. If you have children or pets, consider cleaning the floor more often — twice a week is usually enough to lift the dirt and hair that would otherwise scuff your floors.
Then, you can wipe down your floors with a cleaner that is specifically formulated for wood. It’s a good idea to talk to your floor’s manufacturer for recommendations on the right cleaner, but you can also use a commercially available cleaning solution that is safe for your type of wood.
Once you have used your preferred cleaner, mop the floor again with a damp mop to remove any excess cleaning solution. Don’t leave standing water on the floor, as this can make your wood flooring slippery and damage it in the long run.
If you find any areas that are beginning to show signs of mold, a good option is to use a bleach-based disinfectant and scrub the area thoroughly. This can eradicate any discoloration and mold growth.
Repair Damaged Areas
If you have minor surface damage that only penetrates the finish layer and hasn’t damaged the wood, you can repair it yourself with a simple technique: sanding. This method is usually enough to fix these kinds of minor scratches and gouges, but it can also be used for restoring older floors that have undergone extensive damage.
Typically, you’ll need to use a coarse grit of sandpaper for the first step, then switch to finer grits as you move on. This is a much faster process with an electric palm sander, but you can also do it by hand with a sanding block and abrasive pads.
Another easy, inexpensive way to repair scratched areas is to coat them with a color-matched wood stain. It won’t get rid of the scratch or gouge, but it will disguise them and make your floor look better.
If the scratch is deep enough, you can also fill it with coloured latex wood filler. This will fill in the hole and add a little dimension to the floor, but you may need to sand it down afterward if it’s too dark.
Finally, you can also make small repairs to buckled panels by replacing them with new planks. This can save you money and time, so it’s worth trying if your floor is in fairly good shape but has some minor damage that could be fixed.
The best time to replace a damaged strip or plank is before the damage has gotten worse, so you can avoid more extensive repairs later. If you wait to replace a board, it’s more likely to warp and buckle, which can be difficult to repair.
Once you’ve replaced the damaged strip, you’ll need to sand the floor with a finer grit of sandpaper until it’s smooth and shiny. This will give the floor a beautiful, smooth finish and will help to restore your hardwood’s original look.
If your floor has deeper damages, such as scratches and gouges, you’ll need to use a more invasive method of repair. Sanding is the simplest, easiest repair, but it’s not always effective for large, severe scratches and gouges. This is because sanding removes so much of the wood’s surface, and even professionals recommend that you lower your expectations for what it can accomplish.
Choose the Right Finish
There are several finishes for hardwood floors that professionals can use to help create a smooth and shiny finish. These finishes include surface finishes, oil-based polyurethanes, and penetrating finishes. Each has its pros and cons, so you will need to choose the right type of finish for your client.
Surface finishes are made of resins that coat the wood to create a hard surface, usually with a high-gloss sheen. They can be applied in a single coat, or in multiple layers to increase the sheen. Some surface finishes also have the added benefit of being resistant to scratches and scuff marks.
Water-based polyurethanes are another popular choice for professionals who want to add a shine to their clients’ floors without sacrificing durability. They are easy to apply, are fast-drying, and showcase the natural color and grain of the wood.
They are also environmentally friendly, since they do not release chemicals into the air as the finish cures. They are also extremely durable and can stand up to heavy foot traffic.
Penetrating finishes are also popular for professional and DIYers who like the look of a waxed floor, but don’t want to worry about the constant maintenance required with paste waxes. These finishes penetrate the pores of the wood, forming a protective seal.
To test for a penetrating finish, place a small amount of water on the wood. If it is quickly absorbed, the finish is not penetrating and will need to be refinished.
For a less visible way to determine the type of finish on your hardwood floors, try this test: scrape up an area with a knife and see if clear material comes up onto the blade. If it does, the floor probably has a penetrating finish.
If you are unsure about the type of finish on your hardwood floors, ask your flooring pro for a sample of different finishes to see what works best for you. They can tell you about the pros and cons of each and recommend the best option for your client.
Before applying any type of wood floor finish, vacuum the floor thoroughly twice and remove all dust with a tack cloth. Apply the finish with a lamb’s wool applicator in smooth lines, avoiding drips as much as possible. Once it dries, sand the floor lightly with 220-grit paper or #000 steel wool.
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