The Refinishing Process
Refinishing hardwood flooring is a messy, time-consuming job that’s best left to a professional. When you hire a contractor, expect the job to progress in the following manner:
- Sanding: The first step is to sand the floors in order to remove the old finish, any scratches and dents, and accumulated grime. The amount of sanding required depends on the condition of the finish and underlying wood as well as the wood species.
- Polishing: After the floor is evenly and thoroughly sanded, a buffing machine is used to ensure the floor is smooth and even.
- Coating: Once the dust from sanding and polishing has been vacuumed and tacked, the floor is ready to be finished. Based on your preference, the wood can either be stained and then sealed with polyurethane (typically at least 2 coats), or else polyurethane alone is applied directly to the bare wood. If you prefer the wood’s natural color, staining is not necessary.
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Below are the answers to frequently asked wood floor refinishing questions.
How can I tell my floors need to be refinished?
To determine whether your hardwood floors need refinishing, identify the area of the floor that receives the most traffic and pour a tablespoon of water onto it. Slow absorption of the water by the wood means the finish is thin, but may not need to be refinished right away. If the water is quickly absorbed, however, you are advised to have the floors refinished ASAP.
I already had my floors refinished. Can I do it again?
While hardwood floors can be refinished more than once, there is a limit to the number of times the procedure can be done. To find out how thick the remaining wood is, remove a register vent from the floor and examine the hardwood. As long as you still have 1/2″ to work with, refinishing should still be possible.
How long does the process take?
In most cases, refinishing is a three to five day job. A number of factors go into determining the actual job length, including whether or not stain is applied, whether an oil or water based polyurethane is used (oil takes longer to dry), and how dry or humid the conditions are (drying takes longer in humidity).
Hardwood Refinishing Costs
The actual cost of refinishing wood floors depends on the condition of the floor, the size of the area to be refinished and the contractor’s level of expertise.
- Screening, which involves only light sanding and the application of a new finish topcoat, might only cost $1 to $2 per square foot, or $225 to $450 for a 15 x 15 foot room.
- To completely refinish hardwood in accordance with the steps outlined above costs $2.50 to $5.00 or more per square foot, or around $550 to $1,000 for a 15 x 15 foot room.