Renewing hardwood floors has always been misconstrued to involve a long session of messy sanding and staining, but the reality is that a simple solution can reveal the hidden beauty of your hardwood flooring. It is common knowledge that dirt and dust can leave behind superficial scratches that dull the hardwood surfaces. Fortunately, restoring dirty floors that have lost their gleam can be relatively easy. As you investigate solutions for renewing your hardwood floors, here are some of our suggestions for you to consider.
First let’s discuss why and when you should stain your hardwood floors.
Regular maintenance prevents permanent damage
You can’t always see what’s happening beneath the surface of your hardwood flooring. Moisture, lack of consistent humidity and general wear and tear can gradually impact the long-term durability of your hardwood flooring. Regular refinishing can reveal damage and allow you to take preventative steps to ensure you enjoy the elegance and charm of hardwood flooring for years to come.
There’s a pay-off to refinishing
Hardwood flooring owners have reported a positive impact on the resale value of their house. Potential home-buyers love the look of well-maintained flooring. It gives the immediate impression that you care enough to keep your hardwood flooring in immaculate shape. Based on this, the buyer can trust the integrity of the rest of the home’s structure. A little investment in time and money will provide high dividends in the long run.
Protective finish enhances the natural beauty of your floor’s texture and provides insulation from damaging moisture on the surface. That may include water that is tracked in near doorways or could come from large spills that were left to sit and soaked in. Regular cleaning and mopping should not involve excessive water and will not damage your floors. However, if you notice water soaks immediately into the wood instead of resting on top that is a clearsign it’s time to refinish. You can also watch for your hardwood turning grey as this means water damage. Darker boards point to more severe destruction, and if the wood turns black, that likely indicates they’ll need to be replaced entirely.
Dents and scratches
Critics of hardwood flooring often cite the inevitability of surface dents and scratches, particularly if you have pets or children in the home. It’s true that excessive marks can add up over time, but sanding off the damage and applying fresh finish will restore your floors flawlessly.
Fading and discolouration
The most common cause of fading for any flooring material is prolonged exposure to direct sunlight over time. We all know that UV rays can damage our skin, and the same is true for many flooring types including hardwood. Prevention is the best approach if possible, and you can protect your floors by using blinds and shades to limit UV exposure at peak strength. If you have inherited hardwood floors that faded due to sunlight, or if you’ve noticed discolouration developing over time, stripping and refinishing can provide a fresh look and restore a beautiful, uniform shade.
Now let’s discuss how to actually refinish your hardwood floors.
Using a sanding machine, sand the floor
We suggest three sanding sessions, each with finer grits to ensure a smooth surface that will properly accept the polyurethane finish and stain for long-lasting results. If done correctly, the wood should essentially resemble new, raw hardwood.
After sanding, you can add a stain
You can choose from a light stain, a dark stain or a mid-color stain depending on your renovations. As every floor is different based on wood species, grade and age, the stain will need to be tested before its application. Each wood will accept the stain differently because it is a natural product with intrinsic color variations. Another option at this point is to “go natural” and skip the stain.
Add a polyurethane layer
This is typically 2-3 coats of polyurethane. With an oil-based polyurethane, each layer will take approximately 24 hours to dry, and you should buff the floors after the second coat is applied. This will smooth the floors and help the wood absorb the polyurethane. When selecting the polyurethane, look for the type of finish or sheen that you wish. This can be matte, satin, semi-glossy or glossy. Currently, satin is the trendiest option with over 90% of homeowners going for it. This is because a satin finish is very good at hiding scratches compare to a glossy finish.
If your hardwood flooring is not successfully restored after a deep cleaning, you should try to provide a fresh finish to the floors without sanding or staining
There are a series of different kits and products available on the market that will provide a glossy, polyurethane finish to restore your floors. A majority of these products are designed for refreshing hardwood floors without the need for sanding; therefore they have a thick consistency that can fill in any existing scratches. Unfortunately, some hardwood floors will require more work to restore its beauty. If your hardwood floors are dry, grimy and full of deep scratches, be aware that the renewing process will be lengthy and labour-intensive with sanding, patching, staining and top-coating. Of course, you can always find a professional contractor to help with this job. Just be sure to confirm that they are bonded, licensed and insured to work.
Although dark hardwood is extremely popular and delivers beautiful results, it is not recommended for small spaces as it can make the room appear smaller or even cramped
Now that you are more inclined to change the colour of your hardwood flooring, you are probably wondering how light can you go with hardwood. Well, this depends on the type of hardwood that you have installed as flooring. Unless you decide to bleach or use white wash finished, the lightest colour you can achieve with your hardwood floors is natural with no stain. The resulting colour is the hardwood with a clear layer of polyurethane. For example, if you have pine hardwood floors then the final outcome will be light while if you have walnut hardwood floors, the result will be a dark brown. If you do want to go lighter with bleach or a white wash finish, you should know that the process can cause slight damage to the wood. It is very important to remember that you must sand the hardwood floors in order to change its colour. Simply adding stain or paint on top will not look aesthetically pleasing or be durable.
When might refinishing not be enough?
Unfortunately, in some cases where damage is excessive, a full flooring replacement may be necessary. These include structural issues such as gaps between boards and loose or warped boards. In the case of very deep gouges or scratches, refinishing might be insufficient to repair the problem. If you notice any boards that have darkened or turned black, these planks may not be saved by refinishing and could require replacement.
These worst-case scenarios can undoubtedly be expensive, but they can also be prevented with care and maintenance before problems escalate.