Even when you carefully maintain your wood floor, it can’t escape everyday wear and tear. If you have kids and pets, especially, there will be plenty of scratches. And it can suffer a lot of pressure due to high foot traffic and discolouration from sun exposure.
This all calls for a total floor restoration.
To that end this post will give you a general idea about wood floor restoration and what a first-timer can expect.
Wood Floor Restoration vs. Refinishing vs. Sanding
Floor restoration is a wide term that includes sanding and refinishing, among many other services. In the process of floor sanding, the floor is stripped of the damaged top protective coating called the finish. Abrasive materials are used to remove this top layer, leaving the wood bare and unblemished. Once the wood floor is sanded, the top coating is re-applied. This process is called refinishing.
Wood floor restoration involves much more. It includes fixing the subfloor if needed, replacing and repairing missing or damaged floorboards, filling gaps, and so on. Proper restoration can not only make your floor appear brand new again, but increase your floor’s longevity.
The Process of Wood Floor Restoration: What to Expect
Floor restoration is a lengthy and difficult process. If you are planning on doing it yourself, you should be aware of the process and be ready to commit to that kind of labour, time, patience, and skill.
1. Floor Preparation
The first thing is prepping the floor. You will have to remove the furniture, delicate objects, beddings, and electronics. Your floor must be free of everything, including dust, which can complicate the restoration process, especially if there are gaps to be filled. Punch down the screws, nails, and staples before sanding. If you are hiring a professional, they can prep the room and floor at a cost.
2. Floor Repairing
Next comes checking the floorboards and determining if they are in critical condition and need repairing. It is rare that boards are beyond saving. Even badly broken ones can be secured, gaps filled, and your subfloor mended.
However, floors from the Victorian era can be a bit tricky because they used asphalt as flooring adhesive. Since it is not compatible with modern floor glues, asphalt has to be completely removed from the equation when restoring the floor.
3. Floor Sanding
Once all the above is done, it’s time to sand the floor. Sanding is a lengthy and detailed process that is divided into three parts: rough, medium, and fine. The rough sanding removes the old finishing and levels the board, preparing it for the next step. The medium sanding stage smoothes out the surface slowly and removes imperfections from rough sanding. Lastly, fine sanding evens the floor perfectly; readying it for finishing or staining.
Every floor is different and hence there can’t be a general approach to sanding. But the sanding is done in the direction of the grain. Otherwise, sanding can be uneven, leaving nasty marks on the surface.
4. Gap Filling
There are two main reasons for gap filling:
1) Because it will make your floor look good and trap less dirt. That means it will be easier to clean and maintain.
2) It will prevent draughts and improve insulation, thus saving substantially on your energy bills.
Among several methods of gap filling, two are used widely. The first employs a mixture of filler resin, and sawdust and wood slivers. This allows the gap to retain the colour of the wood and is fit for smaller gaps. For bigger gaps, resin doesn’t work. Instead, putty, wood filler, caulk, or even long pieces of stained string or rope are used.
5. Staining and Finishing
Staining allows you to change the colour of your floor. If it is not sanded flawlessly then staining will make the imperfections more noticeable. Floor finishing happens in several coats, usually 3 or 4, and serves as a protective layer that guards the floor against possible damage. There are two types of finishing: lacquers & varnishes that protect the surface; and penetrating oils that get soaked into the wood and protect it from within.
Wood floor restoration is a time-consuming process and, depending on what needs to be done, can be expensive. Understanding the restoration process will help you prepare mentally for the work involved. Before you get into restoration, make sure you ask for a quote from your restorer so you know approximately how much you will be spending.