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Refinishing a Hardwood Floor--Not a Task for the Faint at Heart

By Roger Diez
Your hardwood floor has seen significant use over the years--kids, pets, tracked-in snow and mud, heavy furniture, and a myriad of other indignities may have taken a toll on its finish. But the hardwood floor's basic structure is sound, so refinishing sounds like a good idea. Let's see what is involved.


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Can This Hardwood Floor be Saved?

First, you need to determine just how bad it is. Check the entire floor for deep scratches and gouges, and evidence that previous refinishing may have left insufficient wood depth for another one. You may want to get advice and cost estimates from a flooring contractor to assess whether or not your existing hardwood floor can be salvaged. If it looks like your hardwood floor is a good refinishing candidate, the first step is to make repairs. Using high quality wood putty that closely matches the hardwood finish, fill in any cracks, gaps, and gouges, and remove any exposed nails, staples, etc.

Bring in Heavy Flooring Equipment

To properly refinish a hardwood floor, you will need a drum sander, edge sander, and buffer. These are items not found in the average homeowner's tool kit, but fortunately you can rent them. Remove the furniture from the room and hang plastic over the door openings to prevent dust from permeating the entire house. Sand the hardwood floor surface with the drum sander, making three successive passes with coarse, medium, and fine sandpaper. Use extreme caution to avoid low spots or swirls. Use the edge sander near the walls. When you are finished, vacuum up all the dust and buff the floor surface with the buffer. Vacuum again and stain the refinished surface (if desired), then apply a protective polyurethane coat for the final finish.

Handling power sanding equipment can be tricky. If you're hesitant, get estimates from contractors who specialize in floor refinishing and leave it to the pros.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I. and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time.

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