Finding a wood floor underneath an ugly old carpet can feel like a huge win for a homeowner. However, repairing and polishing a damaged or aged surface to a glossy luster can require a lot of small fixes and big sanders. The good news is that once you have completed the process, the wood floors shouldn’t require another round of refinishing for many years. Plus caring for wood floors can be simpler than floor coverings like carpet or tile.
Watch the embedded videos, read the tips and learn how to bring out the beauty of your natural wood floors.
Inspect, Clear and Repair the Surface
Once you’ve removed carpeting or tile that covered a wood floor, you’ll still need to inspect it for nails, staples, pieces of foam lining and other elements that keep a floor from being uniform. Such elements may damage a sander or scrape the foot of a person walking on floor.
In the embedded video, Bill Link explains how to hammer down protruding nail heads and cover them with filler as well bleach water stains and smooth over worn sections. Sometimes molding is removed from a wood floor before carpet is installed and needs to be replaced.
Remove Trim and Moulding
You'll want to sand down your floors to the outside edge. If you have any trim or moulding along your floorboards, it should be removed before you start sanding. Use a pry bar to loosen and remove all trim to avoid any damage.
Pro Saw Dust Tip: Don’t throw away the dust created when you sand the floor. By mixing the dust with wood filler or glue it’s possible to create putty that close to the color of the floor panels.
When choosing a floor sander, it makes sense to do a little research. While a lot of drum sanders have one large rotating pad, Bill recommends one with three smaller pads. He explains that the smaller pads make it less likely for the sander to create gouge the floor or spin away from the operator (which is a real possibility).
Belt sanders can be good for working on uneven problem areas. Since you’ll likely be renting the sanders, it doesn’t hurt to ask for advice from a shop owner or store rep.
You may also want to buy extra sanding disks since they can wear down and become almost useless in the middle of a big job. Buying several different grits of sandpaper also makes sense. The roughest type will take off the polish, but once that’s removed you’ll want to finer grade to smooth down the wood.
It may make sense to start sanding slowly, if possible. Test the strength of the machine and avoid leaning to much on it, which may lead to taking off more wood than you want.
To track where the sander has been, Bill makes long pencil marks on the floor and then erases them with the machine.
After the drum sanding work is complete, smaller sanders will likely be necessary to finish the edges and corners.
Fill Holes and Divots
Now that the floor is smooth and the polish is off, the time has come to fill any nail holes or divots with putty. Bill makes his from a mixture of the saw dust and white glue, which helps to match the tone of the floor. Once dry, these filled holes can be sanded smooth and stained.
You do not want any saw dust shellacked to your floor for posterity. Once you have the the floor sanded and smoothed, use a shop vacuum to clean up the debris and finish by mopping the area. Your floor must be particle free before you start staining or sealing.
Staining and Sealing
Personal preferences usually come into play when staining and sealing. Some home owners prefer a natural look; others will adjust the tone to match the rest of the interior decor. The shininess of the finish often changes with individual taste. Several coats of stain for sealant may be need for the desired results.
First, stain the edges using a brush. Once you have a frame of finish, transition to a larger applicator to fill in the rest of the flooring. Happy with the color? A polyurethane sealant can complete the floor.
Choose between a shiny or matte finish and apply at least two coats for the best protection.