For decades, beautiful hardwood floors were often covered up by carpeting because it was a popular trend in decorating. Did you recently discover that you have hardwood floors under your linoleum or carpet? Maybe you bought an older home with hardwood floors, and they could use a little TLC; either way, refinishing may be your best option.
We will discuss the benefits of refinishing hardwood floors, the cost, some things to consider before you refinish your floors, and how to refinish them.
The Benefits Of Hardwood Floor Refinishing
If you have recently discovered hardwood flooring in your home, you might be wondering if it’s worth pulling the carpet and refinishing the wood. While it often comes down to personal preference, here are some benefits to refinishing your floors.
Easier To Maintain
Once you refinish hardwood floors, they are typically much easier to maintain. Carpeting can be challenging to keep clean, especially in high-traffic areas. If you live in a home with kids or pets, you’ll find yourself reaching for a carpet cleaning machine more often than you would like.
Worried that your hardwood floors might be too cold or hard? Area rugs can add a little comfort, warmth, and style to any room with wood floors.
Works With Several Design Styles
If you have a specific design style in your home, wood flooring works with nearly every style from Industrial to Scandinavian. Whether you live in a century-old Victorian or an American Craftsman, refinishing your flooring can breathe life into your older home.
Increases The Value Of Your Home
Even if you’re completely in love with your home and don’t plan on moving any day soon, hardwood floors that have been refinished may help sell your home a little faster when (and if) you put it on the market.
The Cost Of Refinishing Wood Floors
What’s the cost to refinish hardwood floors? According to Home Advisor, the majority of homeowners who refinish their floors spend between $1,072 and $2,359 or about $1,000 per 300 square feet.
It’s important to keep in mind the cost for your floors may vary depending on how many floors you have refinished, if other work is needed (such as removing carpet), and the cost of overall labor and materials.
Will you save money by doing hardwood floor refinishing on your own? Most likely yes, especially since your cutting labor costs, but you need to factor in the time (and potential hassle) of doing the floors yourself.
Should You Hire Someone To Refinish Your Floors Or DIY?
If you like doing little house projects and you only need to refinish the floors in one room of your home, you could easily tackle the project yourself. You may want to consider hiring professionals if you wish to have all the floors refinished or some areas of the floors need repairs. Before you hire, here are a few things to consider.
Ask For Recommendations
You obviously want to hire someone that will work efficiently, do good work, and can be trusted to work in your home alone. There are probably a ton of people who do odd jobs and say that they have experience refinishing floors.
While this may be enough experience for you to hire, especially for a smaller job, it’s best to look for someone who is National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) certified. While it might be hard to find someone with that kind of accreditation, ask friends and family for recommendations.
Shop Around For Estimates
While we gave you a ballpark figure, the refinishing may cost more or less. As you would with any home improvement project it’s best to shop around and get as many price estimates as you can. This is a crucial step, especially if you’re working with a limited budget and it can help you decide if you would rather do the refinishing job yourself.
Make Plans To Stay Someplace Else
If you’re only refinishing one or two rooms in your home, you can probably get by with staying at home; make sure you have proper ventilation and keep kids and animals off of the floors until they are completely dry.
A larger refinishing project may require you to stay in a hotel or spend a few nights with friends. Depending on the job, you might need to stay away from home for a few days.
Should You Refinish Or Replace?
When you have a professional take a look at your floors, you will get a better idea of the condition of the flooring and if any of the boards need to be replaced. If it’s recommended that new wood flooring is put in, it may be more cost-effective than paying for someone to refinish the floors.
What are some signs that your floor is better off being replaced? If boards are missing, severe damage such as wood rot, or if most of the boards are warped, replacing might be a better option.
How To Refinish Your Hardwood Floors
If you’ve weighed all of your options and you’ve decided that it’s cheaper and easier to refinish your floors on your own, here’s how to refinish hardwood floors.
Assuming that you have already removed the flooring (carpet or vinyl) that is covering the hardwood, we’ll skip onto the refinishing steps. If you need a few pointers on how to remove existing flooring, check out these tips.
Ideally, your floors will have minimal damage, and the scratches are only surfaceable (not damaging to the wood). Here are the steps to refinishing your floor if the wood is in good condition with minimal scratches.
Remove all the furniture in the room and clean the floor with a mixture of 10 parts water to one part vinegar. Wipe the floor clean and keep the windows and doors closed to help keep the dust in the room while you sand the floor.
Even though you will be using a buffing machine to sand the floor gently, you need to use sandpaper and hand sand the perimeter of the room (about four to six inches out from the baseboard). Use 180-grit paper and remember to rub with the grain of the wood.
After you have prepped the perimeter of the room, you can use the buffer. Make sure to use the right buffing pad, probably no more than the equivalent of a 180-grit (ask a store employee for recommendations). Keep the buffer constantly moving and slide it across the floor in the direction of the grain.
To ensure you’re getting all the old finish off of the wood, make sure to overlap by about six inches. Take some breaks in between to vacuum the buffing pad. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask or respirator during this step.
After the whole room is sanded, take a short break to let all the dust settle to the floor. The next step is to vacuum and sweep the floor, making sure to get any dust that’s in the cracks. You can finish this step by using a microfiber cloth to pick up any excess dust you may have missed.
Once the floor is free from dust, cover your shoes a bootie (that you can find at a hardware store), put on your respirator, and begin to brush the finish on the wood on around the perimeter of the room. The stripe should be about three inches wide.
Pour about a one-inch strip of finish on the floor, keeping it in line with the grain. Using a roller with an extension handle, roll the finish with the grain, then across, and then overlap. After ten minutes, pour more finish on the floor and keep using the same rolling steps until another ten minutes has passed.
Do this until the whole floor is covered in the finish (be careful not to box yourself into the room). Wait at least three hours before you add another coat and avoid bringing furniture back into the room until about a week.
Caring For Your Refinished Floor
Once you have successfully refinished your hardwood floors, it’s essential to take good care of them. You can keep heavy traffic areas protected with area rugs or runners and if you can keep felt pads under furniture to avoid scratching the surface.
Typically sweeping and vacuuming your floors is enough to keep it clean, but if you must use a cleaner avoid ones that contain vinegar, ammonia, polish or oil soaps as these may wreck your varnish.
Use a gentle cleanser that won’t leave an oily film or residue or follow any cleaning instructions on the container of finish that you used on your floor.