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How to choose the best floor refinishing method for you

Updated on March 15, 2010

With so many options, it is no wonder that you, as a homeowner, have to sift through all the choices as far as choosing the best floor refinishing methods.  For example, should you do it yourself or hire a professional flooring company to do it for you?  How much are you willing to spend and what kind of labor can you expect if you do hire someone else?  If you are refinishing the floors yourself, how much time would it take to complete the project and what are the various methods available to your when you are looking to finish that is easiest?

Also, are you just needing to refinish parts of the hardwood that is damaged or are you going to totally refinish the entire floor?  Is it aesthetic or are some parts of the floor so damaged and scratched up that it is a necessity?  Is it to update the floors to complement your decor? 

What type of color are you aiming for?  Do you want a dark, rich finish or are looking to refinish the floors with a lighter stain? Is this just a small part to a larger remodeling project in the future?  If so, you may want to put off the flooring project until that time. Just like choosing the best way to refinish hardwood floors, there are generally two methods that most people will gravitate toward.

2 Floor refinishing methods

In the broad scope of things, there is generally two different methods to floor refinishing; you are either going to recoat the hard wood or you are going to completely refinish.

If your hardwood floors are just lightly damaged due to wear and tear such as foot traffic, then recoating is the better option of the two.  With this option, rather than employing a professional sander and sanding the flooring down to the natural wood grain, you will employ either a hand sander or a mild abrasive such as a chemical wash.  Basically, you will apply the abrasive only in the worn or mildly damaged areas and then add a coat of finish once the area has been sanded and cleaned.

On the other hand, doing a complete refinishing entails much more work in which a drum or disk sander is used and the entire floor of the room is sanded down back to its natural state.  If you are hiring a company to do this for you, make sure that they are very cognicant of dust control because if they aren't, dust and debris could seep into other rooms of the house.  After the area is sanded, the finish is applied, often more than one coat with a final protective sealant added once done.

What finish is most durable?

In the cases of high traffic areas, you are going to want to get the most durable finish like a ceramic or polyurethene finish.  Swedish Conversion Varnish or Moisture-cure Urethane are also known to be very durable.  If you are going to do the refinishing yourself, you will need a gas mask as most of the finished are a hazard.

How Long does refinishing a floor take?

The length of time that it takes to refinish the floors varies but one thing that doesn't is the amount of time you should take before moving furniture back into the room.  A lot of times, once the protective coat of sealant is laid, it is recommended that you wait at least 5-7 days before you start to move heavy furniture back in.  Typically, you can walk safely on a refinished floor after a day.

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