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Best methods to stripping hardwood floors

Updated on March 15, 2010

Do you own a 30+ year old house and is it carpeted?  If you do, it is likely that underneath that carpet, you may find hardwood floors throughout your home.  All this said, the flooring underneath your carpet may be a bit worn and weathered but the good news is that you can take those tired looking hardwood floors and make them new again by stripping the wood and refinishing it.

Why should you care if your carpeted floor has hardwood underneath it?

The reality is that while the 1970s was all about carpets, you can raise the equity of your home significantly by having wood floors.  Hard wood adds that timeless "classic" look to any home and most homeowners see wood floors as a bonus.  Many prospective buyers actually won't buy a house if the floors aren't wood.  The bottom line is that hard wood adds value to what is most likely your most important investment; your house.

There are 2 ways you can strip a floor:  You can chemically strip the floors or you can strip it manually.  Manual stripping simply involves a sanding maching and is probably the better option as you can reduce the wood down to it original grain by taking the finishes off, coat by coat.

If you decide to manually strip a wood floor, you will need a few tools though, all of which you can usually rent from a home improvement store.  You are going to need a disc or drum sander as well as a power sander to get in the small spots in which a professional grade sander can't reach.  Of course, you could really go manual and hand sand your floors but that is very much labor intensive and could take a very long time to do.

If you don't trust yourself with power tools, you could always elect to strip the floors using a chemical.  If you decide to go this route, you will need to get a mask and make sure that the area is properly ventilated before you start washing the floor with a chemical wash.  It is also a good idea to know a little bit about the chemical you are using.

Understand that these chemicals can eat away years of finish off the floor pretty quickly.  If it can do this to finishes, consider what it could do your skin.  The fumes can sometimes be just as damaging.

What ever method you decide to choose, stripping and refinishing a hardwood floor should be done using the utmost patience and you should educate yourself to what's, why's and how's to sanding and refinishing before you start the job.  Doing it yourself can be rewarding, sure....but you can also mess your floors up by sanding them down too much or ruinning the floor with a chemical wash.


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