If you have decided to hire hardwood floor refinishing services to uncover the beauty of wood hidden underneath your old hardwood floors, it is a good idea to educate yourself on what to expect when the contractors get to your door. This will spare you of surprises and make the job easier. Here is what happens during a wood floor refinishing project.
The area or room where you plan to refinish your floors must be empty, with all the furniture moved to another area of the house and window treatments removed. Before starting the work on the floors, your contractors will cover the plugs, heating vents and lighting fixtures, then seal the door to the rest of the house with a plastic sheet. Keep in mind, however, that it is not possible to perfectly isolate the workspace, so dust WILL enter other areas of your home. The wood floor specialists will try to minimize this as much as possible.
The wood floor refinishing contractors will then inspect the floor for any nails that must be removed or fixed in place, so that the work area is flat and smooth. If the floor needs repairs, this is the time to do it. Then the floor is cleaned and debris removed, so that the area is ready for the refinishing work.
Sanding the Floor
The contractors will use a sander to remove the top layer of the wood by systematically working on overlapping rows on your floor. This is both extensive and noisy work. The sanding is done in continuous motion and in stages, starting with a coarser grit, then moving to finer abrasives. Even though the sanders come with attached sand bags, wood particles will escape, so it is imperative to stay away from the work area. The wood floor refinishing contractors will use earplugs and dust masks. They will most likely use a drum sander, even though an orbital sander may be useful in narrow spaces or when it is not possible to go with the wood grain. A palm sander will come in handy when getting closer to the baseboard moldings.
After the sanding is done, the contractors will vacuum the floor and clean it with a cloth, so that the work area is ready to receive the stain.
Staining the Floor
If your new floor color needs to match the old floor, the wood floor professionals will mix a few stains and check it against the desired color. The stain is then spread with an applicator on one area at a time, using a cloth to remove the surplus and taking care that the stain does not dry before the next one is tackled, so that you are not left with differences in color and unsightly marks. Your contractors will apply the stain moving towards the exit, so when the application is done, they can leave the stain untouched and exit the area. To help the stain dry, you can turn on the heat (70 degrees and above). You will not be able to step on the newly stained floor for 24 hours, so plan accordingly.
Applying the Polyurethane
The following day, your wood floor contractors will apply the polyurethane with a long applicator, occasionally using a brush for edges and corners. This is a work of patience. First, the polyurethane must be applied in thin coats so that it dries fast and uniformly. Second, if some foreign particle has been trapped in the coat of polyurethane, the contractors will have to remove it by carefully sanding away the top hardwood floor coating and reapplying the polyurethane.
Applying polyurethane is a hazardous job, so your wood floor professionals will wear eye protection, gloves and vapor respirators. Polyurethane fumes are another reason why you should try to stay away from the house during this project. Even so, the smell will most likely linger around the house for a few days, so keep your windows open as much as possible for extra ventilation.
Your contractors will apply 2 to 3 coats of polyurethane. Because each oil-based polyurethane coat needs 24 hours to dry, the hardwood flooring restoration project will take a few days (generally between 2 and 5 days, depending on how large the floor is), unless you choose a water-based sealer that needs only a few hours to dry between coats and can be applied in one day.
After the Project Is Done
Once the project is done, your wood floor refinishing contractors will give you a few pieces of advice that will ensure that your floor dries and cures well. For example, you should not walk on the floor for the next 24 hours, to allow the top coat to dry. For the following day, wear only socks when walking on the floor and avoid wearing shoes or stepping on the floor barefoot. Keep your pets away from the floor for at least 2 days, (if it’s possible, aim for 2 weeks).
Allow 4 days before moving furniture back in. Even if you long to see how your rugs look against your newly finished floor, refrain from bringing your area rugs in for 4 weeks after the job is complete. This will ensure that the floor will properly cure.