When it comes to flooring, few materials compare to the charm and beauty of hardwood. In older homes that have passed through several owners, hardwood floors may be covered by layers of unsightly vinyl tile or carpet. If you move into an older home and discover hardwood flooring beneath synthetic flooring, you may be able to save the wood and give your home an aesthetic upgrade. The following guide on refinishing hardwood provides you with a primer on what you need to do to save the natural flooring material.
Determining if Floors Can Be Saved
A hardwood floor that has been hidden under layers of vinyl, adhesives and old carpeting may look hideous to you at first sight. However, most hardwood floors can be salvaged. Even if the floor has squeaky floorboards, glue-damaged surfaces, small holes, shallow scratches and stains from liquids, it can be saved.
There are a few problems that may make it more logical to pull up the flooring and start over including severe termite infestations, floorboards with extreme movement and structural problems in the subflooring.
If you are unsure about whether or not you can save your hardwood flooring, consult a contractor that specializes in refinishing hardwood.
Preparing Your Floor for Refinishing
Every single of bit of vinyl or carpet material must be removed from your floor. Vinyl tile can be a challenge to remove because of the strong adhesive used to apply the material to the floor. The top layer of the tile must be cut away with a sharp knife, in small sections, one at a time.
You will also have to use a putty knife to help remove the bottom layer of vinyl. Any remaining vinyl material must be removed with a heat gun and a floor scraper.
Removing carpet involves pulling up the carpet and padding while making sure you do not injure yourself on tack strips and staples. For hard to remove carpet, you may have to cut the material into strips to make it easy to pull up from the floor.
Taking up old vinyl and carpet is not a task for the faint of heart and you may want to pay your refinishing contractor to perform the job for you.
Understanding the Refinishing Process
Refinishing a hardwood floor that has been covered for years is a multi-day process. It requires wearing protective gear including gloves, goggles, a dust mask, ear plugs and knee pads.
In addition, you will need to seal off the room to keep dust and fumes from entering other parts of the house.
The first thing a refinishing contractor will do is clean and sand the surface of the hardwood with a heavy duty power sanding machine. While you can sand the floor on your own with a handheld sander, if you have no experience in refinishing hardwood, you could end up damaging the floor if you use the wrong kind of sandpaper with the sander.
Professionals will use several grades of sandpaper, beginning with a coarse abrasive for the first pass and gradually moving to finer abrasives until the floor is completely smooth.
If there are any nicks and gouged spots on the floor, the contractor will fill them using wood putty and then sand the area to make sure it is smooth. When the sanding is complete, the room will then be cleaned of the dust that accumulated on the floor and walls.
The final steps of refinishing the floor include choosing the right type of sealer for the floor. The sealer the contractor uses will vary based on the color of your floor and whether or not you want a glossy or matte finish.
After the first coat of sealer is applied to the floor, you will have to wait for it to dry. It can take up to 24 hours or more for the first coat to dry before a final coat can be applied.
Taking Care of Your Refinished Hardwood Floor
After all of the work you put into refinishing your floor, you want to make sure it retains its beauty for a long time. Invest in a high-quality broom to sweep your floor on regular basis. Do not let dirt, debris and grime accumulate on your floor. Ask your refinishing contractor for recommendations on the best products to clean the floor.
Avoid walking on your floor in shoes that will leave scratches and marks such as heels. In addition, if you have pets, do not place their water bowls on the floor.
For more information, contact a company like Cooper Floors.