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Wood Floor Refinishing Tips

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Sometimes people tell me that they spend hours (and sometimes days or weeks) refinishing an older hardwood floor, only to find that there are now cloudy or white stripes between the boards. It can be very frustrating, but it can be avoided.

To begin with, it's important to remember that older hardwood floors had decades of foot traffic and often weren't been maintained with the proper floor care products. People sometimes use household cleansers or furniture polish, even though neither of those products are meant to be used on hardwood floors. If any of that residue was left on the floor after preparations were made, the new floor coating could cause it to turn cloudy or white, regardless of whether the new coating was oil or water based.

To avoid such a situation, make sure to use the proper grit of sandpaper and the correct procedure for using it. Start with a coarse sandpaper, then switch to medium, followed by a fine grit, to make sure you're getting all the residue off the floor. Just because it appears as if the floor is clean after the first or second step doesn't mean you should ever skip a step. If you do, you may run into costly and time-consuming problems later, because you'll have to start all over again and do it right, removing all contaminants completely by thoroughly sanding with all three grits of paper.

Also spend time preparing the floor in between each successive coat of new finish, which will help the coats adhere better and look nicer. Many future problems can be avoided by taking your time in between coats to make sure you're doing it all right. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on preparing the floor between coats, which will often include light sanding and buffing with an abrasive pad or screen. There are some refinishing products that can be coated without padding or screening, while other require extra long drying times between coats. Read the instructions carefully--and then follow them to the letter.

Letting coats dry can be critical, because even though the main boards may be dry, the seams between the boards may still be wet. Pay special attention to the seams, bearing in mind that cloudiness or whiteness may not appear until after the second or third coat, at which time it will be too late to do anything about it.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher


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