You've pulled back a piece of old carpeting and hit the home improvement jackpot: hardwood floor. Experts agree that hardwood floor not only adds warmth and beauty to your home, it also adds value. Refinishing a wood floor isn't a spur of the moment home improvement. The exact amount of time it takes for the job is dependent on a number of factors including the size of the room and your available stamina, but you can expect to spend 12 to 14 hours over two days to complete this project.
Preliminary Prep Work
In addition to the hours required for the actual refinishing, you'll need to set aside time to get the floor ready. Carpet, padding, tacks and furniture must be removed before you can begin sanding the floor. While the room is clear, it's a good idea to inspect and repair or replace damaged boards. Fill any cracks in the boards with wood putty and allow two hours of drying time before sanding. If you don't own them already, you'll need to rent a drum sander, floor edger and buffer.
Sand and Stain
Sanding the floor requires three passes over the entire floor, once each with a coarse, medium and fine grade sandpaper. If cracks, holes or protruding nails turn up after sanding you'll need more time for the repair and re-sand. Wipe down the walls, floor boards and floor with a soft cotton cloth and apply the stain. Barring any after sanding damage, you can expect this step to take up to three hours plus eight hours or overnight for the stain to thoroughly dry.
Seal the floor with polyurethane. Water based polyurethane dries faster and provides the same tough finish seal as the old oil based products. The floor will need three coats of this sealer, with two hours between each coat. Sealing the floor with polyurethane is a an eight-hour step.
Enlist the help of a friend to reduce the time it takes to refinish your wood floor rather than shortening drying times. Partially dry wood putty can crack swell when the stain or sealer is applied. Footprints in the stain won't show up until you apply the sealer. Before you begin the project, check to make sure there's enough wood remaining on the floor to handle refinishing. You can lift a floor register or remove the baseboard to measure the thickness.
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