If your hardwood floors are in dire need of refinishing, get a few estimates from professionals. You may be surprised at the figures. You’ll want to sit down when they tell you it will cost you $1200 to have your living room redone. You could carpet over it for less, but doesn’t carpeting over beautiful hardwood floors seem, well, wrong?
Contrary to what you may have heard, the finish doesn’t take days and days to dry. It’s quite simple actually. Go to your favorite local home improvement store, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot or other. Rent a sander. You’ll need a drum sander, a belt sander or both. They will explain to you how to use the machine and tell you what kind of sand paper to purchase. They will also tell you what kind of stain and finish to get. Make sure you also pick up some dust masks because you will have saw dust everywhere.
The sanders are very easy to use. They’re a bit on the loud side. The key is to keep it moving at all times. Do not stop or you will get a divot in your wood. Think of it like a clothes iron. You need to keep it moving or you will burn your clothes. Same deal with the sander. It creates a lot of heat and you will burn or dent your floors if you hesitate in one place too long.
You will feel like a Zamboni driver smoothing out your surface. Word of caution, you do need to maintain control of the machine at all times. It is self propelled, like a lawn mower or a basset hound on a leash. When you power it up, hold on to the machine tightly. Don’t be afraid of it and after a few passes, you’ll start to even have fun.
Redoing your floors is like redoing your fingernails. First you need to remove the old finish, basecoat, color, and top coat. You may opt to forgo the color (stain) and just use the nature color of the wood. You will still need to apply a finish to it.
There are basically two types of floor finishes: one is oil-based and the other is water-based polyurethane. Oil-based is available in a satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish. Satin works well on floors because it hides small flaws and lets the natural beauty of the wood show without a bright shine. Oil-based also produces a warm amber look that gives you the traditional glow of wood floors. Water-based polyurethane dries clear and resists yellowing. Water-based also dries quicker.
Make sure you let each coat thoroughly dry before applying the next; same as you would nail polish. Give your floor at least 24-36 hours before moving furniture back on it. It will continue to harden in the first couple of weeks.
Don’t be overwhelmed. Instead of looking at refinishing your hardwood floors as a humongous job, look at it as giving your room a manicure, one step at a time. You’ll also save yourself as much as $1,000 by doing it yourself.