Reviving Hardwood Flooring Hardware floors are incredibly durable, and unlike carpet, they generally won't need replacing at all once you have had them fitted in your home. Despite this, they do still need maintenance work, and there will come a time when they need some kind of refurbishing or refinishing. Don't worry, though, this is a fairly easy and inexpensive job, and once it's done, you won't have to think about fixing them up again for a long time.

Before you start planning what work needs to be done, you need to evaluate your floor and think about which treatment it needs - refinishing, refurbishing, or both? 

Refinishing

If you have had your hardware floors for more than a few years, they are likely to have become dirty over time. So long as the wood is not worn through, all you will need to do is refinish them. First, you need to clean them and remove the dirt and wax so that a fresh new finish coat can be applied. This is a simple job that can typically be carried out with basic household products, like detergent and elbow grease. If you have money to spare, you may prefer to hire something like a floor-buffing machine to make things even easier.

Refurbishing

Floors in bad condition will need refurbishing. If you don't do this now, they will gradually worsen and be more difficult to repair in the long run, so it's important to get them spruced up as soon as possible. This is slightly more complicated than refinishing, though still a relatively simple job that you should be able to do without hiring someone in to help. Essentially, all you need to do is sand them down, then follow the refinishing steps above. Sanding them down should bring them back to their initial state. If your floor itself is in reasonable shape and still flat, you can use a vibrating sander to remove the current finish. This is an easy to use hand tool that you can hire from local DIY or home improvement stores for a small cost.
Depending on your level of skill and experience, refinishing your floor could take anything from 2 to 4 days. If you've never done anything like this before, it is estimated to take you around four days of work, whilst pros should be able to get it done in no more than two.

What you'll need

Don't head to the shops until you have a clear idea of exactly what you need to complete the job. There's nothing more annoying than missing one or two crucial items off the list and having to return to the store before you can carry on working. This can delay the process or could even result in you having to start over again.   

Here is a conclusive list of everything you will need to get your floor back into shape. Your list will vary depending on what exactly needs doing to your hardware floor, but should look fairly similar.

Tools - hammer, nails of various sizes, paintbrush, fresh cloths, paint tray and brush, pry bar, putty knife, plastic sheeting, vacuum, dust mask, tack cloth, lambswool applicators, big flooring sanders, edge sander.

Materials - varnish, finishing nails, sandpaper, steel wool, blue painter's tape, latex wood filler, wood stain.

Preparation and safety advice

Take care and follow safety precautions when using tools like sanders on your floors. If you are concerned you won't be able to run the machine or feel you are putting yourself in danger, get someone in to do it for you. Your safety should be paramount, and nothing is worth risking injuring yourself. Once the sanding is done, you can do the rest, as finishing and staining are risk-free. Always follow instructions on any labels of the products you are using, and stick to the recommended drying times.

Step by step guide to refinishing your floor

1) Remove the shoe molding - base molding can interfere with your sanding tools, so it's best to remove it. The shoe molding is the quarter that runs along your floor and is easily removed by prying. Be careful not to damage the baseboard whilst doing this, and use a scrap piece of cardboard or wood to protect it if need be.

2) Get rid of squeaks by re-nailing the floor - if your floorboards' nails are loose, you will probably notice squeaking. Look out for loose or protruding nails, set them then use latex wood finish to fill the holes afterwards. If your floorboards are still loose or squeaky, nail 8d finishing nails into the floor joist.

3) Contain the dust - stop dust travelling through your house by closing doors and making good use of duct-tape and plastic sheeting. Protect yourself during the sanding process by wearing a dust mask.

4) Rough-sand the floor - ask a professional company for advice on what kind of sander to use. Most floors need a vibrating sander, but if yours is rough you may need a drum sander. Go over the floor a few times for maximum smoothness. 

5) Clean up between sandings - use a vacuum or sweep the floor between sanding, as dust can collect and get in the way.
6) Even out the floor - if your floor is looking uneven after rough-sanding, then fine sand it with a vibrating sander afterwards. This is optional and may not be necessary.

7) Don't forget edges and corners - your rental products should come with a sander specifically for edges. These can be hard to get used to, so when you start using it go for an area that is hidden by something, e.g. behind furniture.

8) Finish off edges - random-orbit sander's are easy to use and will give your edges a nice finish.

9) Apply stain - when you've done everything, swept up the dust and finished off with a tack cloth, you should be ready to apply your wood stain. Use an applicator pad and take it easy, doing small areas at a time.

10) Remove excess stain - wipe off any excess stain as soon as you finish. You can do this with a clean cloth or paper towel. Keep your applicator in a sealed plastic bag to prevent it drying out over night.

11) Apply the finish - once the stain has completely dried, you are ready for the final step - applying the finish. Apply three coats if you're using oil-based finish, or four if it's water-based, and make sure you sand and vacuum up any dust in between.

Wrritten for wooden floors specialists floors2go.co.uk