Floors are made to be walked on, which is why it’s inevitable that after years of use, your hardwood floors might look scuffed up, dull, or scratched. But one of the best things about hardwood floors is that rather than having to replace worn-out flooring, you can have it refinished. Professional floor refinishers will have the skill, equipment, and experience to make your hardwood look brand new again. There are also DIY refinishing tools and guides on the market, if you prefer to tackle the project yourself. But what does floor refinishing really entail, and what types of floors can be refinished?
Do I Need Refinishing?
If your hardwood flooring is very scuffed up or scratched, if it soaks up water instead of repelling it, or if the boards are warped or squeaky, you’re probably in need of floor refinishing. However, because the refinishing process removes the top layer of the wood, you need a relatively thick floor at least ½-inch to ¾-inch thick, according to Lowe’s in order for refinishing to be an option. The last thing you want is to accidentally expose the subfloor beneath your hardwood. If you’re uncertain about the thickness of your flooring and whether it’s appropriate to refinish it, bring in a professional for a consultation.
Sanding and Buffing
After you’ve removed all furniture and fixtures from the room and cleaned the floor, the first step in the hardwood floor refinishing process is sanding away the old finish and stain. In addition to revealing the bare wood, sanding levels the floor and helps expose the grain of the planks. Sanding and buffing can remove scratches, scuffs, and cracks, and generally improve the appearance of the wood. You or your floor contractor should sand multiple times, vacuuming between each pass and using smaller-grit sandpaper each time. When the sanding and buffing process is done, you should have a level, smooth wood surface.
Staining and Finishing
If you wish to add stain to your wood flooring, now’s the time. Test the stain in a small, unobtrusive area first to ensure that the color is what you desire. Then, follow the manufacturer’s directions to apply the stain. (If you’re working with a floor contractor, you’ll need only to approve the stain color and leave your contractor to it.) Once the stain is fully dried, the final step in the refinishing process is applying polyurethane sealant to protect the floor. The sealant finish waterproofs your hardwood and also gives it the traditional shine and glow hardwood flooring is known for.
Once you’re 100% sure the sealant has dried, you can begin moving your furniture and other furnishings back into the room. Then, you can enjoy your refinished floor for several years or more, depending on how hard you are on the floors and the traffic level in the room. Note that you shouldn’t completely refinish hardwood flooring too often, lest the wood get worn down to the subfloor. A professional flooring contractor can advise you on whether you truly need refinishing or if you can get by for now with a deep cleaning and another coat of sealant.