Home Repair Tips Hardwood Floors

Welcome to the Charleston Handyman Website!  I hope you enjoy this article by Keith Paul, founder of HandyPro Handyman Services:

How to Restore Hardwood Floors

We have just purchased a beautiful home with the exception of the oak hardwood floors that are looking slightly worn. They are solid, and I believe they could look great if we refinished them. But we never have completed this type of project and would like some advice on how to do so. -Terry S.

Hi Terry,

Welcome to the world of wood refinishing. Besides painting and cleaning, I believe refinishing hardwood floors can have one of the most dramatic effects on any home, not to mention the return on your investment could literally double or more.

The trend for hardwood flooring is that it's in high demand. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, “Between 2002 -2007 wood flooring retail sales increased at 6.4% compounded annual rate while the overall wood flooring market increased 2.2% annually.”

However, it is not one of the easiest home improvement projects.

Pre-inspection. It is best completed while the room is empty. Your first step is to determine the cause and extent of any floor damage. The floor boards must be solid and secure and not majorly warped. Hammer in any protruding nails using a nail set to sink them slightly below the surface of the floor as they can damage the sandpaper.

You will need to use a hardwood floor sander which is available to rent at most rental stores. For larger stains and heavy finish build up you may have to rent a drum belt sander. Otherwise, for medium projects I prefer using an upright, self leveling, four disc, random-orbital sander. This sander will allow you to get closer to the walls and is easier to maneuver due to it being self leveling.

Sanding. Remove all the corner round molding carefully so you can re-use it if possible. Sand according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Sand a minimum of three times, starting with heavy grit sandpaper such as 36 grit, then ending with fine grit sandpaper such as 120 grit.

Although the sanding machine keeps most of the dust in the dust collector, it's best to do it on a day when you can open a few windows and doors. Of course my last floor sanding job was in February.

Sand slowly with the grain while keeping the machine constantly moving forward. For hard to reach areas and edges, you may have to use a edge sander, also provided by the rental store.

Finishing. Before applying any finishes to the floor, you want to make sure that you remove all of the dust off the floor. First, broom sweep the floor, and then lightly damp mop. After the floor dries use a tack cloth to pick-up any leftover dust particles.

Apply the appropriate color stain if applicable. If you prefer a more natural look, just apply clear polyurethane carefully with a lamb’s wool applicator, as seen in the picture, and follow the manufacture's instructions.

Be sure to take your time and remove any bubbles or puddles that may form. Many products state two coats are sufficient; however, I have always applied three coats to ensure the floor's resistance to wear and tear.

Although this is a labor-intensive project, it is well worth the effort. The final results will ensure the rich look of hardwood and a durable floor for years to come.

Lyndon Jones is the friendly neighborhood handyman and owner of HandyPro Handyman Services.  HandyPro is a customer first driven business working to provide easy answers to their clients’ needs to repair, modify, renovate or upgrade their home or business.  The process is built on professional service focusing on providing timely service using their own skilled technicians to meet the specific requests of their customers.

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