Refinishing Hardwood Floors

by Joseph Hardly
(New Jersey)

Preparation is an important part of the job of refinishing floors. After taking all furnishings out of the room, remove the shoe molding (save it to put back later on). Removal of the molding will make edge sanding possible without damage to the baseboards. All projecting nails should be either pulled or set below the surface and loose boards nailed down. Do the initial drum sanding with the grain in one continuous pass across the room.

For the first sanding, use an open coat (coarse) sandpaper belt on the drum. Make as many passes as are required to ex-pose the bare wood. As you move to an unsanded section, overlap the area you have just sanded. Continue this way until you have done the entire floor. Change the belt to a liner grade of sandpaper for the final drum sanding. Don't use a worn out coarse belt instead of one with a liner grit. The next part of the operation is done with the edger. For inaccessible sections, use a hand sander. For the floor's finish, apply a penetrating sealer varnish, shellac, lacquer, or one of the polyurethanes.

The polyurethanes are more expensive but give you a durable surface that is moisture and scratch resistant. Use two coats of any finish. Apply either a liquid or a paste polishing wax (never use a water wax) made specifically for hardwood floors. Use a soft cloth as an applicator and buff with an electric polisher. Apply a second coat over the dry initial coat and polish it. Complete the job by replacing the shoe molding.

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