- Home Improvement
"How To Refinish Hardwood Flooring"
Wood grain is attractive, and many U.S. homeowners like to show it off.
The grain of pine or oak, either in the natural color or stained, is beautiful, but showing it off after five years of neglect can be troublesome.
Most often, you begin refurbishment of an existing wood floor by sanding away the old finish and the top surface of the grain.
Sanding works better on hardwood like oak. Since softwood floors gouge more easily, painting may be the better choice.
For sanding, professionals use a belt sander. They sand with a coarse (36-grit) paper first and progress in three stages to a finer paper (100-grit)-the lower the grit number, the rougher the paper. In addition to a belt sander, professionals use edge sanders on stairs and close to baseboards.
Both belt sanders and edgers can be rented. However, they are a bit tricky to use. Belt sanders need strength and precise timing to control, and a beginner can end up gouging the floor. In any case, a novice should not begin with 36-grit paper, which can gouge a floor quickly. Use an 80-grit paper if you're not an experienced sander.
Pretreatment for sanding includes a number of chores. First, replace worn or damaged floorboards and fill any holes with wood cut to size ( a job for professionals or very skilled do-it-yourselfers). Second, look for and remove (or set below the surface) nail heads protruding out of the wood- these can rip the sandpaper to shreds. Last, remove any heating register and cover the duct hole with plastic.
For do-it-yourselfers, a more controllable way to sand is to use a circular floor buffer with a fabric sanding mesh ( a mesh covered with gritty aluminum oxide) The buffer follows the existing contours of the floor more closely than does the belt sander and removes substantially less wood. In addition, buffers are cheaper to rent. Use a reciprocating sander as an edge and a sharp scraper to treat damaged areas.