Refinish a Hardwood Floor
After floor sanding comes refinishing when you can lay on a fresh topcoat veneer of your choice. The better your sanding foundation, the better the finishing will be, so get the basics right and you are more than halfway to a great looking floor!
If the floor has been previously painted you can apply a solution of stripper to the boards, which should always be applied prior to sanding. Stripper should be applied by hand and in small areas at a time. Once the stripper has been introduced to the floor and has been left for five minutes or so you will see the old paint start to fizz a little and rise up from the plank. Now is the time to remove the stripper – never wait until the solution is dried in before removing, as to do so will cause damage to the wood.
Stripper can be removed by a glazier’s knife or blade. With one motion you will be able to lift both the stripper solution and the old paint together. If there is left-over solution on the planking then this can be made to vanish with a little steel wool and methylated spirits used sparingly.
Now the area must be left to completely dry out before sanding can be carried out.
When the sanding has been completed, the floor must be prepped for finishing, and this includes a further inspection for small holes and imperfections that can be concealed by a wood paste, which can then be varnished over.
Making your own wood paste is simple: mix a little sawdust with white glue and mix to a paste. Using a small spatula, apply wood paste to the hole and allow to dry. Hand sand it so that it’s flush with the floor.
If the holes are slightly larger then they can be stoppered by using wooden carpentry plugs. It may be necessary to drill down slightly to even the hole up so that the plug fits snugly. Glue in place and tap lightly with a mallet before hand sanding to the consistency of the floor.
Carefully vacuum the floor and wipe over with a damp mop, leaving to dry completely before applying the finishing product. Even the smallest particles of grit will become apparent under the new finishing and can completely spoil the look, so make sure the floor as clean as possible before continuing.
The finishing touches
There are a great variety of toxin-free floor finishing products on the market including varnish and coloured varnish, wood paint, clear sealants, wax and lacquer-based finishings and more.
If you are after a glossy finish use a polyurethane finish and if a matt look is what you are after use a wax based product.
Whatever type of floor sanding and finishing you opt for make sure the room is ventilated throughout and you are wearing protective clothing including face mask and eye goggles. Finishing should be hand brushed on in small areas. Invest in a good quality brush as you do not want dropped bristles ruining the effect. Do a spot test in a hidden area before applying to the floor proper.
Apply finishing from the area furthest away from the exit and work backwards, reversing towards the door as you work.
Allow the product to dry as per manufacturer instructions (usually 24 or 48 hours) and keep family members and pets out of the room during this time. Don’t be tempted to feel the floor to find out if it is tacky – chances are it will be and you will have that section to re-do! Better to walk away and leave for the required time.