Refinishing a wood floor is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your home without removing the existing floor. We all go through moments in our lives where our homes begin to look dull or outdated. Thanks to home renovation television shows and Pinterest, it doesn’t take much searching to find home improvement inspiration. If you are worried your home is not as modern as the styles you are seeing on TV or online, there’s an easy fix waiting for you: hardwood floor refinishing. Instead of replacing your floors entirely, consider your options for sprucing up your current flooring. New floor installation is time consuming and definitely more expensive than sanding and refinishing your current floors. Instead of panicking over the cost of new flooring, take comfort in knowing the floor can be refinished. To ensure a swift process that you are happy with, there are some hardwood floor refinishing expectations to keep in mind.
7 Hardwood Floor Refinishing Expectations
- Expect to Create a Schedule for the Process. Unfortunately, a finished floor doesn’t just happen overnight. When you try to anticipate how much time the entire process will take, you should keep in mind that the process itself involves several steps from the beginning of the project to its completion. Before any work can be done, the area will have to be cleared out and the floors will need to be cleaned. Remove all furniture to other areas of the house. Not only does this give the contractor more room to work, but it also protects your furniture from dust and damage. Next, give the floors a thorough cleaning to remove as much dust and debris as possible. If there are any major issues with the floor, like a broken floor panel or a noticeable nail out of place, get it fixed before the refinishing process begins. The next step of the process is to sand those floors down. The goal is to buff out those marks and scuffs that have been added to your hardwood floors over the years. This process sounds easy, but it actually involves multiple steps, depending on the contractor. You can expect the sanding equipment to include an upright sander that is pushed over the floors, a belt sander to handle the edgework, and fine sandpaper to finally smooth over the floors. With your floors now looking like fresh, untreated wood, it is time to apply the stain. You can expect the stain to be water-based or oil-based. The stain will be applied with a cloth until the desired color is achieved. Now, it is time to add the ultimate layer of protection: the finish. Floor finishes also come in water-based and oil-based options. This will more than likely be applied with a brush, and you can expect two to three coats to be applied.
The timing of the process depends on how big of an area you are refinishing, whether or not you are using a stain, and how many coats of stain or polyurethane you are using. Once you finish the floor, it is not immediately ready to be lived on. You have to give it proper wait time to dry before you even think about moving furniture or carpeting back on to the hardwood floor. On average, it takes about a day to sand 1,000 square feet of flooring. Sanding the floors of a 3,000 square area would then take about three days. Then, you would expect a few additional days to deal with the stain and polyurethane of your choice. On average, the entire process could take anywhere between two to ten days, and that is not including the four days you need to let the floor settle and dry before you replace furniture. Additionally, the floors will take about 30 days to cure entirely. If you have small children or pets, establishing a schedule or timeline is key before you start this process.
- Accept That There Will Be Imperfections. While working on refinishing your floors, try to keep realistic expectations in mind. Raw wood is a natural product that comes with natural beauty of its own. That means there are going to be knots and graining variation that may not seem perfect but, if you can set expectations early, you can learn to appreciate the uniqueness of the wood. One positive to keep in mind is that these imperfections can create a handscraped look to the wood’s texture, and that texture type is very popular right now. Also, if there have been pet stains or water damage to your floors, refinishing them will not be the magic cure that erases those areas. Refinishing the floors will definitely improve the aesthetic of the floor, but it does not fix or erase imperfections. If you are unsure if an area on your floor is a natural imperfection or an area of concern, consult a flooring contractor for a professional opinion before moving forward.
- Expect to See Dust. Dealing with dust is to be expected, but you can certainly manage the amount of dust you are working with. The great thing about hiring a professional is that not only do you receive high quality work, but you also benefit from the dust collecting tools and methods they use. We can cover areas that are not being worked on with plastic to minimize the amount of dust landing on the floors. Homeowners sometimes get frustrated with dust remnants after a job is completed, but this is unavoidable. Go ahead and expect to have to dust your home a day or two after the project is finished. The good news is that the dust can be removed easily with a rag or feather duster so, while it is an extra step, it is good to know it isn’t a huge hurdle. Another major concept to consider is dustless floor sanding. Dustless hardwood floor sanding is accomplished by removing the machine’s dust collection bag and attaching hoses to a vacuum. The concept is simple and tends to exceed the expectations of others. Professionally engineered, truck-mounted equipment is superior to portable vacuums because they are more powerful; more importantly, they are engineered to produce maximum vacuum CFM proportionate to the diameter of the hoses. Make sure the contractor you hire has made the investment in proper equipment before you make an investment in them.
- Understand That Refinishing Floors Does Not Fix Gaps. Refinishing your floors can help the appearance of gaps in your floors, but it cannot fix them, and that’s okay. Remember, hardwood floors are natural and they are meant to have unique aspects to them. Lean in to the gaps or find other ways to cover them with area rugs if they really do concern you. Avoid using filler because it hardly ever looks natural. In fact, the wood will expand over time, and this will cause the filler to push out, making it even more difficult to ignore.
- Expect to Paint the Baseboards. The hardwood flooring in your house won’t be the only part of your home that is affected by sanding and refinishing. Your baseboards are going to experience some wear and tear from this refinishing process, so build in some time to go ahead and repaint the baseboards while you’re at it. Walls and stairs can also get scuffed up during the refinishing process, so take a quick inventory of spots you may need to repaint and knock them all out at once. You’ll be thankful later to have done it all at the same time.
- Anticipate Color Matching Issues. There is a natural variation in hardwood, so when you go to stain it or add the polyurethane, you may notice the color does not look exactly the same on the hardwood panels. But, don’t panic. This is completely natural, and once you finish the entire area, you will realize that the overall look does come together. If some of the flooring is darker or lighter in some areas, that is completely normal because the color variation of the wood and its knots means the color from the stain or polyurethane will soak in at different levels. While it may not initially match up perfectly upon first glance, it will absolutely yield a natural look overall. We definitely recommend testing the stain first, and you should do so on the flooring in your home and not at the store. You need to be able to see how the color looks in your home with the natural lighting from your windows. Plus, this project will obviously be a site-finished job. Keep in mind that if you replaced any of the floor panels in the past, the stain may look different on those specific panels because they may have come from a different species of wood. However, you can easily ensure that you achieve a very similar color for all panels with the right number of applications. Now, overtime, you may notice that the color of the floors change slightly. This is due to the fact that hardwood darkens naturally and polyurethane takes on an amber color over time. If your hardwood flooring is at least five years old, you may want to consider these facts as you plan to sand and refinish them.
- Expect Surprises! Becoming a new homeowner to an existing home comes with many surprises. One lucky surprise that homeowners are excited to find is original hardwood flooring beneath old carpet. With the emphasis on farmhouse decor and industrial decor, many people are going for the aesthetic hardwood flooring provides, and they are all too eager to rip up the old carpet to expose the floors below. However, you should go into this task with the right mindset. Prepare yourself to find surprises beneath the carpeting. You may find things like pet stains, damage from heaters, gaps in the flooring, or areas that are missing hardwood flooring. If the stain seems superficial, you could possibly get away with just sanding it away before treating the stain with a bleach solution. You would simply sand away the finish to get to the wood grain where the stain is most powerful. Start by brushing on a hydrogen peroxide paste and see how it takes the first time. You may need to try this a few times before the stain is properly treated. Then, you can smooth the area, and apply fresh stain to match the rest of the floor. Always follow up the process with a clear-coat to protect your work. It may not be the picture perfect floor you had imagined, but it is important to remind yourself that having even an imperfect hardwood floor already sets you ahead of the game. It is way more affordable to improve the existing hardwood flooring than to replace it entirely.
Should I Hire a Flooring Professional?
While it is possible to do this refinishing project yourself, it is a better use of your money to hire a flooring contractor because you can trust you will not have to pay out of pocket for your own mistakes. Keeping all of these hardwood floor refinishing expectations in mind may prove to be too much for a non-professional. Not only does a professionally refinished wood floor have aesthetic appeal, but it also increases the resale value of your home. Potential buyers who walk into a home could see old, worn-out floors and wonder what else is wrong with the house. This could lead to a buyer making a low offer, if they even make an offer at all. The cost of refinishing is an investment not only for the current homeowner to enjoy, but it can also pay off when trying to sell the home in the future. While refinishing your floor can be a routine job for a professional, it can be quite challenging for someone outside of the field. Instead of taking on this task, let a professional do it for you. Dealing with hardwood flooring is not something you will need to regularly repeat as a homeowner, so there really is no need for you to learn the trade just to complete this one job. By doing it yourself without proper training or experience, you run the risk of wasting materials, your time, and money in the event of a mistake.
Contact us today at Patrick Daigle Hardwood Flooring to discuss your flooring needs and options. With four generations of experience, we continue to provide exceptional, quality service to the Connecticut area.