Floors Refinishing hardwood floor

Published on October 21st, 2016 | by Henri

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Refinishing a hardwood floor

Q.  I have oak floors that were installed at least 30 years ago. There are worn pathways from foot traffic and the polyurethane is completely off. The rest of the floors have turned dull, yet the wood is in perfect condition.

My thought is to lightly rub the worn areas with steel wool, clean off and apply a new coat of finish over all the floors.

Can I do this or should I rent a sander to remove all the old finish before applying a new finish? It seems to me to be a lot of work when only the worn areas need sanding.

My last question is what to use to take the original finish off if I do not need to sand all the floors?

By the way, I am a 76-year-young woman and love to do projects. Thank you for any advice you can give.

A.    Congratulations on your energetic approach to projects around the house.

If the worn pathways are not too extensive, you can sand them lightly, using a sanding block and 240-grit paper to remove all pollutants. Sand lightly about an inch wider than the worn areas to make the new finish blend. Vacuum thoroughly and finish removing all remnants using a tack cloth.

For the dull areas, try wiping them lightly with a damp cloth impregnated with a solution of dishwashing detergent and water, making sure that you do not wet the floor too much, as it could damage the wood. Remember that the industry recommend a light cleaning of polyurethane floors with a damp cloth after vacuuming them.

Now the trick will be to match the existing finish. If it is a clear varnish, is it a matte finish or a glossy one? Does it have a slight tint to it? If the floors were stained, you will have to try to find a match.

Apply one coat to the worn areas and let it dry following the instructions on the container. You may need to apply a second coat.

Then apply one coat to the entire floor. Best of luck–it will be a lot of work!

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