Many people will tell you that only professionals have the wood floor refinishing techniques to get the job done right. That's because there are a lot of variables that can affect your refinishing job. You'll need patience, and you'll want to pay attention to all the details. Consider the following variables when deciding what technique to use and prepping for the job. That way, you'll avoid surprises and problems midway through your refinishing job.
If the wear to your floor isn't too severe, you may want to consider a liquid renewal system. Instead of sanding you apply a "liquid sander" that roughs up the finish of the floor. These liquid systems involve applying a couple of preparation liquids that dry quickly and then applying an epoxy-like finish.
Another wood floor refinishing technique for floors that don't have much damage is waxing. Layers of wax are applied and buffed.
Neither of these methods can hide a lot of damage. If there are deep gouges or the finish has worn away in some spots, the results will not be perfect. If you really want a brand-new look, sanding is the way to go.
Sanding, staining and coating with polyurethane is the most popular wood floor refinishing technique. For the remainder of this article, we'll assume this is the method you'll use.
The first variable to consider is the cost of the job. Break the costs up into two parts: the costs that apply only to the drum sanding portion of the job and the costs for the rest of the job. Add in the cost of renting or buying tools and heavy equipment, the cost of the materials and products, plus the cost of safety supplies, like ear plugs, face masks, etc.
After you figure out the costs that apply to the sanding, get a professional estimate to find out what a professional would charge to do just the drum sanding portion of the job. When it comes to wood floor finishing techniques, drum sanding is by far the hardest to master and can damage a floor if done improperly. You may find that the amount of money you'll save doing it yourself isn't worth the hassle.
Before You Start
Before you start your traditional wood floor refinishing technique, you'll want to decide what stain color you'll use and what finish you want (glossy, matte or satin) and whether or not you want to replace the quarter round molding.
Finally, you'll need to decide whether to use water-based polyurethane or oil-based polyurethane. The smell of the water-based version isn't nearly as bad as the oil-based version, but you have to apply more coats. Another advantage of water-based polyurethane is that it doesn't yellow over time. Water-based polyurethane is more expensive.
When choosing from among the wood floor refinishing techniques, keep in mind that neither waxing nor the liquid system can hide gouges, bumps and lumps. The liquid also cannot be used on bare wood floors.
Don't use a small sander unless the floor you're sanding is very small. It will add hours to the job, is difficult to do evenly and is tough on your back.
Be sure to use a dust mask and work in a well-ventilated area.
Don't smoke or use open flames in your work area.