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Things to Consider Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors Yourself

Posted by Aaron Schaalma on May 18, 2014

DIY wood flooring

So… you have hardwood floors and you need to have them refinished. You’ve watched a DIY show that shows you how you can go down to any rent-it store and pick up all the equipment and supplies you need to refinish your floors and make them look new again. Here are a few things to consider before going out and renting equipment to do your floors.

Difference in Sanding Equipment
What’s the difference between the equipment I rent and the stuff the pros use? In most cases, the equipment may be made by the same manufacturer as a professional uses, but there are different models of sanders. Most of the time the sanders you’ll find at the rent-it stores are generally a lot smaller and weigh less, which means it’ll take you longer to sand your floor. They also aren’t maintained as frequently as they should be, and often times are abused because of so many inexperienced people using them. This results in a lot of extra work to make the floor look good.

Running Sanders
Running a sander is very tricky- it’s not as easy as what they show it to be on some of those DIY shows. It takes a lot of skill and practice not to leave stop marks on the floor, which are caused when the operator leaves the sander run too long in one place. If you leave the sander in one area too long, you can even damage the floor, which then requires board replacement in the areas that have been damaged. Depending on how bad the floor has been damaged, the whole floor may need to be replaced. Now the big sander is tricky to operate, but the edger (which is the machine that sands the edges and other areas the belt sander can’t get) is even trickier to use. The edger requires a lot of skill in order to sand a floor flat. All it takes is for you to tilt it a bit, and you get an area where it’s dished out. Many times I’ve seen a poorly edged floor which looks like a rolling sea! This is not what you want! When a floor is properly edged, you shouldn’t be able to tell where an edger was used.

Dust Containment
You won’t get any dust containment when you rent the equipment, resulting in a lot of dust all over your house. I’ve heard from many customers who tried sanding their floors themselves. The amount of dust they created from refinishing their floors was enough to make them never want to sand their floors again! Are you willing to hang plastic all over your house, trying to contain all the dust, and spend hours and hours cleaning up afterwards?

Types of Finishes
There are so many different types of finish out there today from water based, oil, penetrating oil, wax and many more, it can be very hard to decide what to choose, but most places that your going to get your finish from are only going to sell you oil or maybe water based finishes greatly narrowing down the many possibilities and looks you could create from the other products.

Knowledge
Each floor is totally different, and requires knowledge on how to sand the floor to get a great finished product. One floor may require you to start with a courser grit, while another floor may require you to start with a finer grit. You can leave “peaks” from not sanding the floor fine enough. This can result in a final product that won’t last as long, due to the fact that you’ll be walking on the high point of the floor.

Time
Are you willing to give up a 3 day weekend to refinish your floors? In most cases, it will take you that long to complete an average sized job, if nothing goes wrong. If something does go wrong, or takes you longer than you thought, you’ll either have to take another day off from work, or wait to finish it up at night or on the weekend, which takes up even more of your time. Ask yourself what your time’s really worth. Are there different things you could be doing that you enjoy, or that make you more money than what you saved by refinishing your floors?

Refinishing a floor is a lot more than just going to a rental store and getting a sander. It’s a combination of many different things– from equipment, to having the knowledge to know how to work with different species of wood. When all these things come together, you create a master piece. A hardwood floor should be more than just a floor. It should be a work of art!


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