Refinishing hardwood floors takes the worn down, stained and scuffed up surface and breathes new life into it. Wood floor refinishing can be a DIY project or require professional help. How do you decide which route to go?
Why Refinish a Hardwood Floor?
Original hardwood floors are a beautiful feature in a home. Not surprisingly, homeowners look to wood floor refinishing as a good alternative to ripping out the floor or covering it up with laminate or other flooring materials. Due to the availability of step-by-step directions that explain how to go about sanding hardwood floors, refinishing them and also sealing the flooring, it has become somewhat of a DIY project as well.
Be careful! No matter how easy a DIY guide claims it is, refinishing hardwood floors is not for the faint of heart, the procrastinators or those notorious for starting numerous home improvement projects that then continue to linger for weeks (months or years).
Wood Floor Refinishing FAQ
Before deciding to take on the DIY refinishing, hardwood floors require a once over and some cost estimation. Is it cheaper to do the job yourself or should you hire a professional? Remember that your time spent on the project is also worth some money.
Q: Is there any prep-work involved?
A: Prior to refinishing hardwood floors, the homeowner must empty the room of all furniture, carpets and rugs. Now is the time to get out the shop-vac and thoroughly vacuum all the crevices and cracks. Are there nails sticking out? Pull and replace them. Are there carpet strips or tacks? Remove them.
Q: Does sanding hardwood floors require specialized equipment?
A: Yes. Contact the local big box home improvement store and ask to rent a floor sander. Be sure to buy a sufficient amount of sandpaper sheets (in varying grits) to do the job. Demand an orbital sander, which prolongs the work just a bit but is a lot more forgiving. For the homeowner who does end up with a drum sander it is crucial to try out the equipment on some spare wood to get a feel for the speed of operations. In addition to being extremely heavy, these sanders work very quickly and it is easy to go past the initial surface and actually damage the wood and cause noticeable indentations.
Q: How long does it take to sand the hardwood floor?
A: Until all the scratches are removed. Start with the heavy-grit sandpaper, do the entire floor, vacuum up all the dust and evaluate the surface. Move up to the lighter grit and repeat the process. Continue sanding hardwood floors (proceeding down to the lightest grit) until scratches and gouges are gone. Remember to clean up the dust in between sanding!
Q: Is staining part and parcel of the refinishing process?
A: Unless the homeowner wants to keep a natural-looking floor, staining is the next step of the process. Be sure to follow the instructions on the stain can to get an even coverage. In addition, it is absolutely vital to remove as much of the fine dust (that is still in the crevices) as possible. After applying the stain, wood floor refinishing requires the application of one (preferably two or even three) coats of polyurethane finish.
Q: What does it cost to have professionals do the job?
A: Costs associated with refinishing hardwood floors vary depending on the extent of the damage to the surface. Cost Helper explains that a basic re-coating of an only slightly worn floor costs about $1 per square foot. Should the damage be more extensive, the cost goes up to between $1.50 and $4.
If extensive work is to be done, then the cost goes up even further to about $3.75 or $5 per square foot. If stairs are involved, plan on spending and additional $25 to $45 per step. Professionals will charge extra to work on weekends, for rush jobs, in cases where carpet removal is involved or if repairs must be made to the sub-floor.