How to re-finish a wood floor – the benefits of screening
Wooden floors are a great feature in any home. In recent years people have been flocking to their local hire shops in droves to hire the equipment needed to sand their floors and re-finish them. However, while sanding is the most commonly used option, it’s not always suitable, especially if it is a less intense and less invasive approach that is required for the particular type of floor you have in your home. As such, many people have begun to look at an alternative method in the form of screening.
What is screening?
Screening is the process of removing just the polyurethane ‘top coat’ or ‘finish’ from a wooden floor, rather than removing a whole layer of the wood itself. This process is achieved by using an industrial floor polisher and a series of screens, which are clog resistant sandpaper discs specially designed for this purpose.
Is screening for me?
Whether screening is a better option for you than a full sanding of the floor will depend on what condition the wood is currently in, and what finish it previously had applied. Screening will only be appropriate for floors where the wood itself is in good condition, and the finish itself is what has lost its lustre. If it’s the wood that needs reinvigorating rather than the finish then a full sanding will be more useful. In addition to this, if the finish on the wood is wax based rather than a polyurethane varnish, screening will not be effective.
Screening sounds like it’s the best solution, how do I do it?
The screening process is not entirely dissimilar to sanding your floor in terms of the practicalities. The same principles as sanding should be applied by taking the correct safety measures such as using appropriate eye protection and a mask to prevent any possible injury related to excess dust particles. In a similar vein, practising on a less visible area of the floor to get comfortable with the weight and feel of the machinery, as well as using fluid movements to avoid damaging the floor is advisable.
I’ve removed the finish – do I just re-apply a new one?
Once you’ve finished the screening process you can apply a new finish. As with any such process it may take more than one coat, but unless you plan on having to potentially sand the floor in later years, it is worth using a polyurethane finish rather than a wax finish, so that you have the option of re-screening the floor in the future should you need to. Obviously this is not a process that needs repeating on a regular basis, but over the years the floor may become dull or need further attention, so having the option could be worthwhile.
Screening is not always the most viable option, and most people do opt for sanding their floor. However, if the wear and tear is only present in the finish this is a great way to add years to the lifespan of your floor, as well as breathing new energy into a luxurious feature in your home.
You might also want to check out our recent refinishing hardwood floors tutorial to make the most of your floors.