Step By Step Illustrated Guide to Refinishing Wood Floors

Be very careful. The drum sander is loud, and heavy and it can gouge or make a swirl mark your floor. Keep your mind on what you are doing. Walk the sander forward, sanding with the grain of the wood. If the floor are warped sand diagonally to the wood grain. Sand from wall to wall making both a forward and a backward pass of each row. Move slowly but deliberately. The first sanding does not resurface the wood, but rather to remove the finish that is on it.. Overlap your path by one plank of flooring each time. Check the sanding belt often for wear and replace it when you need to.

There are other options. You can leave the wood unstained and go over it tung oil or with a natural finish called Osmo Hard Wax Oil. It is environmentally friendly and an excellent option for historic floors. Because it will not raise the grain when applied you do not need to sand between coats and it is safe for use in children's areas and on kids' furniture. It resists humidity and so is great in bathrooms and kitchens. This would be a more historically true finish for your old wood floor if that is important to you.

Do a walk through before you begin and carefully look for areas where boards seem to be loose or need repair. If there are old holes from radiators you can plug these with a dowel in the same size as the hole, and then cut it off level with the floor.All of this should be done before sanding.

Consider starting in the center of the room so until you get the hang of it so that you don't bump walls. To finish up, switch to a random-orbit sander with 100-grit paper. Sand up to the baseboards and blend into the main floor.

Decide Which Finish To Use

There are a couple of ways you can finish the floor. The most obvious ways are to use either a water based or oil based polyurethane stain. You can get it in a gloss, semi glass or satin finish. Normally satin is the best because it helps to hide imperfections in the floor. The oil based finish will give your floor the traditional golden glow that is part of the charm of the wood, enhancing the look of the grain, however the fumes are horrid for the environment, and your family, and you have to be really careful with ventilation.

The final sanding will remove the scratches left from the previous sanding. Install 100-grit paper and begin in the same place in the room as you started your first sanding. Sand as before but when you get to the edge sanding, add a couple of extra sanding discs under the 100-grit pad. Stacking the discs like this will provide a some cushion and allow the sander to conform to any irregularities in the floor which will help to minimize swirl marks. Sand up to the baseboards and then blend the edges into the main part of the floor.


Now you will be moving on to buffing. Put a 100 grit sanding screen on the buffer.. The buffer, moving back and forth across the floor, will help to even out any problem areas or scratches left by the previous grits. Move the buffer slowly and overlap each pass, just as you did with the sander. Don't hurry this step. Keep your feet firmly planted and the buffer moving. You don't want to run the buffer in any one place for too long or you'll create marks .

First Sanding

Sanding raises a lot of dust. Be sure that you wear the mask to protect your respiratory system. Also hang plastic over doorways and vents to keep the dust out of the rest of the house..

The water based polyurethane will dry clear and resist yellowing and the fumes aren't as toxic.

Be sure to use your safety gear. Sanders are very loud and it is not uncommon for a nail or splinter to fly up in your face unexpectedly. First, fit your drum sander with a 20 to 36 grit course paper. Beginning an area that will be least noticeable so that you can get the hang of the machine .Start the sander with the drum off the floor and slowly lower it onto the wood.

Do not try to sand down to bare wood. When you have removed about 85 per cent, or so, of the finish, you're ready for the next step. Once you have the main part of the floor done, sand the parts of the floor that the sander couldn't reach, such as wall edges and corners it is time to use an edge sander. Install the same grit disc you just used in the edge sander. Start sanding next to the baseboard and work from there out to where you just sanded. Tip the edger back and slowly lower it to the floor. Use a left to right semicircular motion

Second and Final Sanding

The second sanding removes the scratches left by the previous sanding, and any remaining finish or blemishes left on the wood. Switch to an 80-grit paper and repeat the steps of the previous sanding. Start the machine close to the wall at the opposite end of the room from where you started last time so that you're not starting in the same spot each time. If sanding in the same direction of the grain is not improving the floor finish, you can try smoothing it out by making one passdiagonally across the grain (never directly across) with a medium grit sandpaper. When the floor is completely sanded, use the edge sander with the 80 grit paper to sand near the walls that you couldn't reach with the large machine. At this point the wood should look like freshly milled planks.

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