Cunningham of Metro Sand Pro sands a wood floor in a
Wauwatosa home in preparation for staining.
wall-to-wall carpeting has been the floor covering of choice in
homes across the nation for decades, in recent years a growing
number of homeowners are choosing to show off their wood floors.
They are discovering that you can add charm and sometimes value to
your home by restoring your hardwood floors. But whether you want
to completely restore a floor or just refinish it, you need to get
the facts first.
Ninety to 95 percent of wood
floors can be restored, according to Kevin Davidson. Davidson
and his partner Dieter Hess are owners of Metro Sand Pro in
Menomonee Falls. Sometimes floors have water damage that cannot
be repaired, he said. And occasionally other difficulties
arise. We have been hired to redo the kitchen floors in some
old homes, but discovered that once the linoleum was removed there
were only fir planks beneath it. Fir is too soft a wood to
refinish, so the entire floor must be replaced. You cant assume
that all floors are hardwood, he said.
Before you begin, consider your
goal. Do you wish to refinish a floor thats badly worn, repair
a stain or renew a dull finish? In the very worst cases, you
must decide how far you wish to go to restore a damaged floor. If
necessary, we can remove and replace damaged boards, Davidson
said. It is possible to do the job yourself, he said, but if you
are not mechanically inclined you probably are better off hiring
someone to do it for you. The machinery is definitely
industrial and heavy duty. Its not easy to master it, he
The first step in refinishing a
floor is to sand it to remove any existing finish and expose the
raw wood as well as to level it out. Sanding must be done in the
direction of the wood grain in even strokes. Dont sand across
the grain. After the entire floor is sanded, a light grain
sandpaper is used to remove scratches and lines in the floor.
Before stain is applied, all loose sawdust must be removed. Some
of the equipment we use has gotten better in recent years. The
sanders have a dust evacuation system that draws the dust outside
into a collection bag. Its a lot less mess for everyone,
Davidson said. If you are doing the job yourself, however, you
will need to wear a dust mask and cover door openings with plastic
to keep sawdust in one area.
Next, you may wish to stain the
floor or leave it natural in tone and apply a finish only. The
stain is usually applied in two or three light coats to achieve
the desired color. The area must be well ventilated because of the
fumes. After the stain, Davidson applies three coats of an
environmentally-friendly waterborne acrylic finish. The most
important thing here is to remember there is a time period when
the floor is off limits. You dont want any smudges or
footprints, he said.
These days, there is relatively
little work involved in caring for a hardwood floor if it has an
acrylic finish. Gone are the days of scrubbing and waxing. The
typical lifespan of a waterborne finish is five to ten years,
Davidson said. Regular dust mopping and cleaning with a mild
detergent are all you need to do to keep your floor looking