Hardwood floors look beautiful in nearly any house and they are a long-lasting choice. Whatever condition your hardwood floors are in, it should be possible to restore them to their former glory.
Worn-looking hardwood might need to be cleaned and then recoated. If the floor is in a poor condition or damaged, options include restoration, refinishing and repair.
Working with a professional will help ensure your hardwood floors are restored to their original beauty, and will stay like that for a long time.
Cleaning and Recoating vs Restoration, Refinishing and Repair
Before deciding what to do with your hardwood floor, you should first know some of the terms used in the hardwood flooring industry. A professional might inform you that the floors need to be repaired, they should be restored, or they need refinishing. Perhaps they will tell you the floor simply needs cleaning and recoating.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these terms, so you have a better idea about what your hardwood floors might need:
If the hardwood itself is damaged, the floors will need to be repaired. There might be damage in some areas only, such as spills, water damage, mold, pet accidents or fire. In this case, the damaged part will need to be replaced.
It is not always easy to locate an exact replacement, and this would depend on the type and age of the floor. However, a professional can locate the right species of wood and stain it so it matches well with the rest of the floor.
- Restoration or Refinishing
These terms are interchangeable. If the hardwood floor is in a reasonable condition but has sun damage, splintering, dents, scratches or buckling, it might be possible to fix those without actually having to replace part of the floor.
Restoring or refinishing mean the floors will be sanded down until smooth and flat without leaving any scratches. After this they can be stained with whichever color you like and finished with the sheen of your choice.
- Cleaning and Recoating
If the floor is in good condition but looks rather worn or dull, or has light scratches, a clean and recoat should be all it needs. This is the cheapest option but it is only done when the floor is in good shape.
When cleaning and recoating the hardwood floor, your floor will be scuffed lightly in order to remove grime and imperfections that might be caused by normal wear and tear. After this, the floor gets a fresh coat of finish in whichever sheen you prefer.
How are Hardwood Floors Repaired?
As long as the floor hasn’t already been refinished several times, repair can be performed regardless of the age of the floor. Typical repairs would include wall or radiator removal from a remodel, pet stains or deep gauges which are too deep for refinishing.
A large area of damage might mean it is cheaper to invest in new hardwood flooring in that room. A hardware flooring professional will see which planks or boards must be repaired or replaced.
Fixing a Squeaky Hardwood Floor
Any floor squeaks are the result of a gap between the sub floor and the hardwood floor. This gap is caused by poorly acclimated floors or the house settling.
A squeak can be fixed by inserting a wedge or shim between the bottom of the sub floor and the top of the floor joist. Although you can buy special screws to fix the floor from the top surface, these are gimmicky and probably won’t last long if they even work at all.
Hardwood Floor Restoration or Refinishing
It is possible to restore any wooden floor, even old ones, as long as the wood is still thick enough. This type of restoration is done to restore the look of the floor back to its original splendor. It can be hard to tell whether the wood is thick enough but a professional will know if restoration or refinishing is a possibility.
If you can see silver-colored, brushed nail heads on the surface of the wood, that means the floor has been refinished already. Usually these nails are well below the surface and seeing them may mean the wood might not be thick enough to restore any more.
Solid planks of hardwood are typically between 5/16’ and 3/4” inch thick. Refinishing removes some of this thickness, although it is necessary every now and then to ensure the floors stay in good condition.
The refinishing process is needed on average every seven to ten years, for most hardwood floors. Some might need to be refinished more while others might need much less, depending on the care taken to keep the floors looking good and how much foot traffic they have.
How to Clean and Recoat a Hardwood Floor
If your hardwood floors are cleaned and recoated every two years, you should not have to refinish them. Grimy, dull, uneven or lightly scratched floors can be restored to their original beauty with a simple cleaning and recoating.
Complete the process with a fresh coat of finish and the floors should look brand new again, or at least in a very good condition.
Can I Clean and Recoat Hardwood Floors Myself?
If you have a budget or you prefer to DIY when possible, you might be wondering whether you can do your own cleaning and recoating. There are even videos online showing you how to restore, repair, refinish or clean the floors.
However, because you are dealing with an expensive, highly visible and important part of the house and don’t want to risk ruining the floors, it is always recommended that you call an experienced professional.
A DIY floor can be challenging, here are the common hurdles:
Tricky Equipment to Use in the Wrong Hands
It isn’t easy to work on hardwood flooring. The equipment you will need can be hard to use and it is heavy. If you make a mistake with the equipment the flooring could be damaged beyond repair, which is going to cost even more in the long run.
Contaminants in the Floor
Sanding down wood makes dust which is going to spread all over the room and beyond, so it needs to be done carefully. A respirator should be worn when sanding, as well as when applying stain and finish coats.
A professional flooring contractor will use plastic barriers as well as dust containment including HEPA filtration. This can eliminate up to 98.9% of the dust which is inevitable during sanding.
Specialized Tools for Hardwood Repair
You can’t refinish a hardwood floor with a hand sander, because of its sheer size. You need a large sander. You can rent these from big box stores but they are hard to use, have to be brought to and from your house, and they are really heavy as well.
A hardwood floor sanding machine needs to be connected to your electrical panel by an expert since these machines need a high voltage, higher than what a typical wall outlet gives.
If you add up the cost of the tools, rental costs and other supplies, as well as the time it will take you, plus the risk of making an expensive mistake, you will probably want to hire a professional hardwood floor contractor to make sure everything is done well and make the process a hassle-free one.