Tips & Techniques for the Perfect Wood Floor
Getting rid of blemishes
A thorough sanding usually takes care of marks and discolouration, but if you have stubborn stains or blotches that just won’t go away then you can try using undiluted household bleach. Dip a rag in the bleach and rub it into the stain as many times as it takes to remove all natural colour from the wood, leaving it with a whitened appearance. Re-sand the floor and daub any bleached spots with a thin veneer of wood stain so that they blend in with the floor colour. Once dry finely sand the spots until the grain becomes even.
Small cracks and fissures often appear (or should that be they become more noticeable!), when a floor has been sanded. Most cracks are easily dealt with by using filler, but depending upon the size of the crack and where it is situated you may want to do a ‘test patch’ first. For example if a crack is underneath an item of furniture and unseen then you can use that area to see how the floor reacts to the filler.
The burn head can be removed by gentle scraping or, if it is small, with a gentle application of a household cleaning product. Try to avoid over-sanding the burn area as this can result in a dip that will be difficult to reach with the floor sander. If the burn mark is large and very deep then bleach and wood stain can be used as above.
Nails and tacks
Inspect the floor carefully for raised, broken or missing nails and tacks. As well as causing a nasty accident these protrusions are unsightly and should be dealt with prior to the sanding process.
Damage caused by children’s toys and pet stains
A simple bleach, stain and sand procedure should remove marks caused by children’s toys or pet stains. If however you have discovered less than pleasant aromas then you can use one of the many pet odour sprays on the market. If this doesn’t do the trick then try immersing the stain in a hydrogen peroxide (laundry whitener) solution covered with a rag soaked in ammonia. Two caveats here:
1) Keep children and pets well away from the room until the process is complete.
2) Do not mix ammonia with any type of product containing bleach, as this combination emits fumes that are highly dangerous.
Lighten or darken?
If you are looking to change the floor colour be sure to remove any and all existing veneer completely, wash the floor with bleach and water (to lighten) and water alone (to darken) then sand evenly. Allow the floor to dry completely before applying wood stain.
Depending upon the size of the area you may wish to tackle this job with a sanding machine that you can hire from most plant machinery shops. If the area is small or hard to reach like stairs, you can use hand sanding tools. Always sand along the grain of the wood and never allow the sander to be immobile. For a totally professional finish you can blend the floor edges with a hand sander; particularly useful in areas with no furniture ie hallways and landings.
However, wood floor sanding is not just a matter of ‘whizzing a sander around for a couple of hours’ and if you’re concerned that your enthusiasm may outstrip your DIY ability, always call in professional floor sanding experts to do the job for you!
Vacuuming and dusting
When your floor has been evenly sanded the next step is to vacuum lightly and dry dust with a clean duster over the head of a broom. When you are sure all particles of fine dust and grit have been removed then it is time to apply the topcoat.
It is always a wise move to test stain on an area of the floor which will be hidden before going ahead and finishing the floor. Allow the stain to fully dry (at least overnight, two days if possible) before replacing the furniture.