How to refinish wood floors
Article Summary: Eventually you will have to refinish wood floors as the protective coating becomes worn, resulting in a patchy looking floor. There are two ways to refinish floors. One is to completely strip the old lacquer off and two is to use a method of chemical etching to give a good recoating surface. This article looks at the pros and cons of each.
All wood floors will eventually wear through the lacquer coating, depending on the amount of traffic that they have on them. Many people think that there is only one way to fix the problem, namely to sand the floor back to the natural wood finish and then recoat with a new lacquer finish. Although this is certainly one way to achieve the desired result, there is another way that has been developed that requires far less work and is far less messy.
Before using this product it is always advisable to check the condition of your wood floor first as it won’t get rid of lumps or bumps in the surface. These will have to be sanded first and if necessary filled with colored wood filler in order to get the perfect refinished wood floor. Depending on the overall condition of your wood floor it may be worth sanding the whole floor rather than end up with a second rate finish.
The new system uses “liquid sander” rather than an actual abrasive sander. The liquid compound is actually a chemical mixture that eats into the existing lacquer and creates a surface that feels slightly rough, the perfect base onto which a new layer of lacquer will adhere extremely well. The application process takes a short time, after which all you have to do is wait for the designated time span before wiping over the floor surface and leaving it to dry.
The advantages of this new system to refinish wood floors are savings in time and mess as there is no dust created during the process. This is an easy do-it-yourself task, and even if you employ a tradesman to apply the final layer of lacquer you should save yourself some money in the process.
You cannot use this for a bare wood floor, that is a floor that has yet to be lacquered. Bare wood floors will need proper sanding using belt sanding machines available from your local hire shop.
The alternative to the chemical process is mechanical sanding. The advantage of this method is that any existing grit or lumps that were left in the original lacquer will be removed as long as the surface is properly cleaned after sanding. The process involves the use of a mesh sanding material that scuffs the surface of the lacquer. By using finer grades of mesh the floor gradually becomes smoother after each sanding pass. There is a fair amount of dust created with this method and so it is vital that the surface is cleaned afterwards. Use a brush to pick up the majority of dust, being careful not to stir it up too much, then a vacuum cleaner for the second pass. After this pick up any final particles with a lint free cloth or pad soaked with mineral spirits.
The most difficult part of this job is applying the lacquer correctly. Use a proper application pad and don’t soak the pad with too much lacquer, otherwise you will get a pooling effect. Once you have started you will have to finish the job in one go – you can’t stop half way, so make sure everything is ready before you start. The smell of some lacquers is overpowering. Don’t even think of staying in the house after this for at least the first night unless you are using water based lacquer, in which case the smell will be kept to a minimum.
When buying lacquer for your floor you could also take a look at different colored lacquers to add a new dimension to not only your floor, but to the room as well. Lacquers come in a wide range of different shades, as well as the usual clear. There are also gloss, semi-gloss and matt finishes available.