Restoring Hardwood Floors

Liz ODonnell
man sanding floor

Restoring hardwood floors can be a messy job but few people realize that sanding isn't the only option to making wood floors look like new.

Information on Restoring Hardwood Floors

At one time, restoring hardwood floors meant renting a sander, covering all of your furniture with drop clothes, spending at least a week on the project and then vacuuming sawdust for what felt like months. It was a major project. That is no longer the case.

Today, home improvement stores like The Home Depot sell do-it-yourself kits with liquid sanders. These liquid sanders are basically chemicals that perform the same function as a buffing machine or sander. The difference is you won't end up with dust all over your house and you can refinish floors in just a day or two versus several weeks. Plus, restoring hardwood yourself is less expensive than hiring a professional to do it. On average you will pay .75 cents more per square foot when you use a professional.

Not only do these liquid sanders save time and money, they also extend the life of your floor. This is because in the process of using the liquid sanding kit, you apply a urethane finish to your floor. The urethane acts as a protective coat, increasing the durability of the floor.

How to Restore Your Floor

The first step is to remove furniture from the room. Also, make sure you have proper ventilation - with either a fan or an open door or window. Next, clean the floor. For best results, you need to make sure the floor is free of dust, dirt and grit. Otherwise the dirt particles will get trapped in the urethane coat and make the floor gritty. Use a damp mop and soapy water, then dry the floor and vacuum it.

Most do-it-yourself kits start with a deglosser that removes any existing finish from your hardwood floor. After the deglosser dries, you need to apply a chemical coat that serves as a gripper, or lock, for the final coat. Both the deglosser and the lock coat go on easily with a mop and dry in approximately thirty minutes.

Applying the urethane finish is the last step. The most important thing in this step, and the most difficult, is applying this coat evenly. Follow the coverage guidelines on the bottle. You also need to make sure there are no bubbles in the floor. Always apply the finish to the floor in the same direction as the wood grain.

Some of the do-it-yourself kits on the market today are made with environmentally-sensitive products. The chemicals are water-based and don't emit any harmful VOCs or volatile organic compounds.

Professional Hardwood Floor Restoration

Of course, you can always have your hardwood floors restored by professionals. The experts usually use a low speed buffer and perform what is referred to as a screening. The buffer scuffs the floor to remove any imperfections and then they apply a new coat of urethane. The urethane coat takes from three to seven days to cure, or harden and dry. You can walk on the floor after only one day but you will want to avoid any heavy traffic until the floor is cured.

One thing to keep in mind when dealing with hardwood floors is that they don't have to be in perfect condition to look beautiful. Sure it is tempting to want to restore them to brand new condition. However, hardwood floors that show some wear, but not real damage, can look beautiful too. Just like a piece of antique furniture, wood floors can develop a natural patina that makes them look even more beautiful with age. Even when you choose to use a do-it-yourself restoration kit, the results may not be perfect. However, the floors will look good and you will save valuable time and money.

Restoring Hardwood Floors