The verdict is in, and you’ve decided it’s time to do a full resurfacing of your hardwood floors. Although it’s a time-consuming job, the effort is well worth it. Cared-for hardwood is gorgeous and ups the value of your home!
And if you plan to live in your home for some time, resurfacing will also be inevitable. Wood can never totally resist the dings and scratches of life under people’s feet. If you decide to go the DIY route, here is some pro advice to help you do a great job and avoid mishaps.
- Is the damage severe or widespread? It might make more sense to replace the floor entirely. In this case, consult an expert.
- Check the boards’ thickness. If the board (or the top layer, if you have engineered hardwood) is less than 3/4 inches thick, it’s time to replace the floor or just redo the finish. Every hardwood floor has a maximum number of times it can be resurfaced.
- Secure loose boards by nailing them into a floor joist. And make sure NO nail heads are protruding from the floor. This can damage sanding and buffing equipment.
- Get the dust under complete control. At the beginning of your project and between sanding, buffing or sealing sessions, sweep and vacuum thoroughly. Make sure your vacuum is suitable for hardwood floors and doesn’t use beater brushes. Dust and grit will foul up your resurfacing project faster than anything else.
- Ventilate the area, but keep dust and fumes out of the rest of the house. Seal off air vents and the door, but open windows and use fans to direct airborne particles outside.
- How is your floor finished? If it’s stained, it should be re-stained once it’s resurfaced. If it is sealed with polyurethane, you’ll need to do the same again.
- Pay attention to edges and corners. Remove the “base shoe” (the quarter-round wood that goes around the edge of the room), and make sure your resurfacing efforts go all the way to the edges and corners of the room.
- Forget stripping, just sand. Some experts recommend chemically removing stain, varnish or polyurethane before resurfacing begins, but you can get equally good results by skipping the strippers and going straight to a sander. You’ll keep noxious fumes out of the air, too. Check for damaged boards that need replacing. You may need an expert’s help with board replacement, so check for planks that have severe damage such as bad stains or odor, burns or scorch marks, warping or deep gouges.
- Consider renting from a specialist. The guy working the floor section at a big-box store may have been flipping burgers just two weeks ago. Not to say you can’t get good rental equipment from a large chain store, but it doesn’t hurt to check out smaller, specialist stores as well. You probably will get free advice along with quality equipment.
If all in all, the job is too big or intimidating, don’t feel bad about deferring to an expert. Sometimes the best use of your time and money is to hire an expert and focus on the things you feel truly confident doing.