Tips For Refinishing Hardwood Floors

With more Chicago condo and home owners deciding to remodel and upgrade their current residences instead of buying a new house or condo, one of the projects that many decide to tackle is refinishing hardwood floors. Not only will refinishing your hardwood floors give your home a great new look, it will add value if you ever decide to sell. Hardwood floors that have a beautiful finish are one of the top selling points that many prospective buyers look for when shopping for a new condo.

Refinishing your hardwood floors isn’t as complicated as you might think, although it can be time consuming and a little labor intensive. There are a few tools and supplies you will need though. Nearly all can be rented if you don’t want to lay out the money to buy them or think you won’t have a need for them in the future.

The basic tools you will need are some kind of sander, which we’ll cover in the next section, safety glasses, dust mask or respirator, ear plugs, sand paper, masking tape, drop cloths or plastic sheeting, stain and plenty of rags or tack cloths.

Before you begin sanding, you need to determine the thickness of your wood flooring. It needs to be at least 3/4 inch thick before sanding, otherwise you risk sanding too deeply and damaging the floor. Older wood flooring is normally fairly thick, but some of the newer engineered wood floor material can be thinner, so check before you start to sand.

Start by emptying the room of all furniture and sweeping your floor to remove any debris that might cause scratches while sanding. Since there will be a good deal of dust generated from the sanding process it may be wise to also take down any window coverings, pictures on the walls, cover ceiling lights and also put a plastic sheet barrier over any doorways to other rooms to prevent dust drifting. You should also tape off heating and cooling vents and electrical outlets. The trim along the edge of the floor should also be carefully removed and sanded by hand. If you can open some windows and even place a fan to draw out the dust it would help a lot.

You can rent a drum sander at most hardware stores. This tool takes some getting used to if you’ve never used one before, so it’s wise to practice a little in a part of the room that won’t be seen as easily until you get the hang of it. Always tip the drum sander up before you turn it on. Never start it while it is still flat on the floor. Gradually lower it and then move it back and forth or from side to side, never let it sit still or it will sand out a deep pocket and you’ll ruin your floor. Keep moving until you’ve covered the entire surface.

If your floor has a lot of scratches or needs a lot of sanding, begin with about 20 grit sandpaper. The lower the grit number, the coarser the grit and the higher the number, the finer the grit. So you should progress from low to high, and usually finish with about 120 grit. It’s best to save the edges for last and do them by hand. Once you are finished sanding, vacuum thoroughly and it’s also a good idea to wipe the floor down with a tack cloth to be sure you get all the dust up

Now you are ready to actually stain your hardwood floor. Depending on what type of water-based or oil-based stain you decided upon, you may have to apply more than one coat and do a light sanding between coats. Be sure to read the instructions on the product before starting. And remember that the color on the can label or in the store won’t be the exact color of your floor, so try out a small patch in an area that isn’t easily visible to make sure you are satisfied with the color. Be sure to have plenty of ventilation while staining as the fumes can be strong.

Once you have all the coats applied and the floor is completely dry, you should probably rent a buffer to really give the stain job a great finish. Just like the drum sander, start slow until you get the hang of using the tool. The final step then is to reattach any molding or trim you removed (after staining it of course) and apply a polyurethane finish. You may have to give the floor more than one coat with drying time between. You can do this by hand with rags, but using a tool with a long handle similar to a sponge mop will save both your back and time. Read the label for recommended drying time, but it’s always a good idea to wait an extra day or two especially in high humidity before moving the furniture and any rugs back into the room.

Refinishing your hardwood floors will add beauty and value to your condo or house. Most Chicago real estate agents have noted that units with hardwood floors like the ones listed in these new construction condos sell better than homes without hardwood floors. This not only is a great selling point that many buyers look for, but something you can enjoy yourself for years to come.

Paula Cherrist writes articles about Chicago real estate, Chicago condos for sale, housing-related topics and home trends.

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