Hardwood floors are exposed to tear and wear from foot traffic through the last few years and require some form of protective coating to help the color and wood stay in good shape. While chemical sealers are generally more common, there are organic alternatives like wax which offer the same level of safety. When the time comes to refinish your hardwood flooring, look at a wax finish instead of a compound sealer for a greater level of sustainability.
Removal of Old Finishes
The very first step to refinishing a floor is that the removal of the old end. When working against a compound finish, like polyurethane, a large disc sander is the best option to sand off the top layer of finish. An 80 to 100 grit pad does the trick. If the floor has an existing wax finish, there are a number of chemical agents available to help strip the wax from the top of the surface. You do not need a sander to remove an existing wax finish. Instead, follow manufacturer guidelines for removal and application, which usually involve a mop, rags and some elbow grease.
To Stain or Not to Stain
Once the original finish was taken away, you have a choice: to restain the floor as-is, or to sand it back to the original wood color and restain in another color. This doesn’t have anything to do with the structural integrity of the floor. Rather, this is purely a visual component that’s based on individual preference. If the ground cutting is in good shape and has just faded slightly through the years, look at applying a new coat of stain to bring new life to the floor. Otherwise, sanding it back to the wood beneath the stain layer is the sole option to change the color.
If you choose to refinish the floor in a very different color, the flooring has to be sanded. The first 80 to 100 grit pad used to sand off the top coat of compound finish also functions to remove the upper layer of stain from wood. Once you arrive at the color of the wood beneath, the flooring has to be polished to prep it for a new stain. Progressively finer grits of sandpaper achieve the smoothed surface you desire. Typically, just a couple of additional moves with finer grits on the sanding frame are needed, but if you would like a greater shine to your flooring, smooth it down with additional. These finer grits do not remove much of the wood surface, they only smooth and polish instead of sanding down through. After finished, use your stain as desired to get the look you desire.
Wax application is a multistep process, as one layer of wax doesn’t supply a decent coating for the floor. Manufacturer guidelines vary for particular application procedures, but the rule of thumb is that you use the wax in thin layers, which harden as the wax dries. For optimum results, use back and forth strokes at an angle to the joints of the hardwood planking. This better suits the joints between the wood with wax, which also helps dampen sounds sometimes caused by walking creaking planks. When you are finished, look at putting a buffing pad on the sander and buffing the floor to achieve a greater level of wax and wax.