When remodeling a home it is always a serendipitous to pull up carpeting and discover hardwood floors. Few things add the luster to a room's design the way that a hardwood floor can. Like any surface, a hardwood floor needs to be revived from time to time, even if it is not being reclaimed from years of living under carpeting, and here are some ideas that can help streamline the process.
Clearing the Floor
Refinishing a hardwood floor means that everything must be removed from the floor of the room. Pictures can be left hanging on the walls, but any furniture or area rugs need to be removed. After clearing the floor and pulling up any carpet, look at the surface closely to find any nails that are sticking up. Also make sure that all tacks or carpet staples have been removed. Use pliers to pull any remaining tacks or staples; to sink nail heads use a nail punch and a hammer. The surface of the floor needs to be completely smooth so that nothing damages the sandpaper sheets during the sanding step.
Equipment for Sanding
The most labor intensive portion of refinishing a hardwood floor is the sanding. This process is time consuming and it is definitely worth renting a floor sander to complete the job a little faster and with a lot less effort than hand sanding. The most popular type of sander is a drum sander; however, this machine may be difficult to control. This type of sander can also grind away too much surface material very quickly if it does get out of control, and over sanding a floor is a quick way to completely ruin it. If using a drum sander, it needs to be in continual motion.
Another excellent choice for sanding the floor is the orbital sander. They take a little longer to get the job done, but it is not as easy to damage the floor with this type of sander. The orbital sander is much easier to control than the drum sander, which makes it the perfect option for an inexperienced homeowner. To sand the edges of the floor, it may be advisable to also rent an edge sander. Regardless of the sander, make sure to have enough sandpaper on hand in enough variety of grits to get the job done.
Typically sanding starts with a coarse grit sandpaper and moves towards the finer grits. For example, start with 36 grit coarse sandpaper, moving in the direction of the wood's grain. Always keep the sander in motion to keep from gouging the surface of the floor. Once the entire floor has been sanded, move to 60 grit sandpaper and repeat the process. It is a good idea to vacuum up the sanding dust with a shop vac between each sanding. Then repeat the process with 80 grit sandpaper, and finally finish it off with 100 grit sandpaper.
If using an edge sander, make sure to sand the edges at each stage with the appropriate level of grit. After the entire floor has been sanded give the floor a final pass with the shop vac to remove any sanding dust. For the final step, go over the entire floor with a tack rag to remove any remaining dust particles.
Finishing the Floor
After properly preparing the surface of the floor it is time to determine if it should be left its natural color or stained a darker color. When applying stain, always work in the direction of the grain. Use a brush to apply the stain and remove any excess stain with a rag. After the first coat of stain dries completely, determine if another coat is needed. After all of the stain has been applied, add the final a polyurethane finish to protect the floor. Use a brush or roller to apply the final finish.
Let the floor completely dry and cure, which usually takes several days, before bringing furnishings back into the room.
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