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Hardwood floors add warmth and character to a home or business, but damage caused by years of foot traffic can diminish their appeal. Resurfacing improves the look and stability of a hardwood floor, but it can be a complex process that's usually better left to a professional. Knowing the basics of hardwood floor resurfacing can make it easier to find and hire the right contractor for the job.
Hardwood floors may be resurfaced to correct problems such as warping, cracking, or discoloration, which usually can’t be solved by refinishing. In addition to surface refinishing techniques, the resurfacing process may involve the removal of floorboards so they can be evened out and reinforced.
The cost to resurface hardwood floors depends on several factors:
Before beginning the process, remove all furniture and rugs from the room. Inspect the floorboards for damage, and remove any that need to be restored or replaced. After completing floorboard repairs or replacements, use a drum or orbital floor sander to thoroughly sand down the floor. Your floor may then be prepped for staining and sealing.
Although engineered hardwood floors may not hold up to the full resurfacing process, they may be refinished once or twice in their lifetime depending on the thickness of the wear layer and the original method of installation. Badly damaged boards may be removed or replaced. Floating floors may not be sanded.
Yes. A screen and recoat technique may be used in place of sanding. This process involves using a floor buffer with a sanding screen to scuff up the wood’s finish, and then applying a refresher coat of stain. The process won’t remove deep scratches, and it won’t repair warping or cracking.
Yes. Hardwood floors are designed to be durable, and resurfacing can revitalize worn-out floors. However, if a hardwood floor has been refinished multiple times, excessive thinning may cause it to become structurally unsound. In this case, replacement is generally recommended.
Yes. When resurfacing hardwood floors, distressing techniques using tools such as wire brushes, chain links, and hand scrapers can give your floor the look of seasoned wood. The right stain can also give wood a seasoned appearance.
After resurfacing is complete, you should wait a minimum of 24 hours before walking on your hardwood floor. For the next 48 hours, you should wear only socks when walking on refinished flooring.
The easiest way to refresh a hardwood floor without restaining is by vacuuming it, and then cleaning it thoroughly using a product formulated for hardwood. For added shine, buff your floors using a buffer machine, and follow up with a new coat of polish.
Depending on the techniques being used and the level of restoration, several machines may be used in the resurfacing process:
Although some people use the terms interchangeably, refinishing and resurfacing involve slightly different processes. Refinishing involves sanding off the floor’s top layer and reapplying the top coat. Resurfacing is a more complex process that's often used on badly damaged floors. It may involve the removal, repair, or replacement of individual floor boards.
It’s cheaper to refinish a hardwood floor. Depending on the type of wood you choose, replacement costs may be as much as two to three times more than the cost of refinishing.
Although costs may vary depending on the amount of work required, refinishing a hardwood floor typically costs from $2 to $5 per square foot. Refinishing stairs may cost slightly more due to the complexity of the job.
You can prepare for the refinishing process by taking the following steps:
Wood refinishing and resurfacing products such as varnish and lacquer may contain chemicals including arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, and xylene. For greener alternatives, look for products with Green Seal-11 certification. Water-based products and those made from natural oils such as linseed and tung also typically contain fewer toxic chemicals.
Although sanding can bring out natural variations in your hardwood floors, it won’t change the color of the wood. A change of color may be achieved through staining, bleaching, or whitewashing.