The Home Depot Flooring A-Z
What’s under your feet (or how you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to the house. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A-to-Z guide that will give you the confidence to make the flooring choices you’ll love. Read the manual from A to Z here.
A lot of the investments in a home require maintenance, whether it’s making sure that your appliances are cleaned regularly or that the air filters in your HVAC system are refreshed every two months. If you have hardwood floors at home or are planning to install them, the same logic applies. Over time, scuffs, discolorations, and dents in the wood can develop, leaving your floors in need of tune-up.
Fortunately, hardwood can be refurbished up to 10 times over its lifetime, and if done correctly, the job can last a decade. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, it’s best to know the basics before you dive into the process. And with the right tools, which you can all find at Home depot, your floors can regain a beautiful appearance as soon as possible.
But first, a quick test
Make sure your floors are in real need of refinishing by using the (incredibly simple) water droplet test. Pour a few drops of water on the area that you think needs updating. If water seeps into the wood, it means that the wood fibers are exposed and the floors probably need to be refinished. If the water droplets bead, it means your floors might just need a good cleaning and polishing (a much simpler process!).
General contractor based in New England Joe truini note that stains are also a good indicator that hardwood may need to be refinished. “Wood is extremely porous, so if it gets worn it can get stained,” he says.
It goes without saying that if you are performing the water droplet test and you are not at all sure of the results, it is best to seek professional advice for expert advice.
Tools of the trade: sanders and pads
If the time is right for the finish – and you are sure you are comfortable with power tools – gather all the items you will need to complete the project (note: they are probably not in the box). average household toolbox). Take a close look at the process and make note of common mistakes ahead of time, such as sanding too hard.
“What you don’t want to do is finish sanding a depression in the ground, because you can’t put the wood back,” says Truini. “There is no real repair other than putting the floor back up.”
Before a sander touches the wood, you’ll want to prep the part. Thoroughly clean all items, clean floors, and remove any base molding to prevent damage. While most sanders have built-in dust collection systems, it’s important to seal the room you will be working in with plastic and heavy-duty tape – this prevents dust from spreading to other areas of the house. And always wear the right kind of protective gear, like goggles and a dust mask. (For more information on the safety of the installation, see letter I.)
A edge sander is your best choice for coarse sanding narrow places (like corners) and smaller spaces (like a closet), while a random orbital sander is recommended for non-professionals who tackle the refurbishment of a larger space on their own. (Coarse sanding removes major nicks and stains in wood.) Belt and drum sanders are bigger and can get the job done faster, but if you’re worried about wielding one, leave it to the pros instead of risking damage to floors. For a more refined look, pros can use a ground buffer equipped with a fine-grained sieve for sanding floors before staining or finishing them.
All of these tools can easily be rented at Home Depot, and probably aren’t items you’ll want to buy for good (unless you’re willing to take your finishing show on the road).
Plan to use the edge sander and orbital sander in tandem to ensure consistency throughout the wood, working bit by bit with the same grade of sandpaper in both tools. (Tip: you can practice your skills in advance on a piece of old plywood.)
Always switch from coarser grit sandpaper (like 36 grit, which will remove old finishes and surface stains better) to finer grit sandpaper (like 60, 80 or 100 grit) to create a smooth surface. Don’t try to speed up the process by switching from super coarse sandpaper to something very fine – you probably won’t be removing enough old product to prepare floors for a new stain and / or finish. Even more than most flooring projects, patience is essential when refinishing hardwood. After sanding, you will want to do another deep cleaning to prevent dust from affecting your HVAC system and appliances.
Stains add style to hardwood
Once you’re done sanding and the dust has been properly removed, it’s time to move on to something with fewer machines: applying the stain.
Stains are applied to the floor like paint and enhance the natural beauty of the wood. Select your stain based on the type of hardwood (different woods accept stains differently!) And, of course, how you would like floors to appear. Lighter stains can help give the room a more airy feel and allow the wood grain to shine, while darker stains can make floors the focal point of the room and add sophistication. It’s also important to keep in mind that darker stains tend to show more dirt due to the contrast between dust particles (or crumbs or animal hair) and wood. Working in a small area at a time (think: 3 feet x 3 feet), apply the stain with a foam applicator pad, wipe off the excess stain with a cloth as you go.
The essential finishing touch
Once the stain dries, a hardwood flooring seals the deal and protects all your hard work. Even if you choose not to stain your floors in the step above, you must finish them. (It’s not called finishing for nothing!)
The finishes can be water-based polyurethane (which dries quickly and relatively clear), oil-based polyurethane (which dries slower and allows more time to complete the job, but requires a respirator while working) or wood oils (which highlight the textured grain pattern of the wood). It’s easier to do with a large scroll, working from the back of the room towards an exit door so you don’t paint yourself in a corner (literally).
While there is patience for this job if you plan to DIY, reviving your hardwood floors will breathe new life into your home and ensure that they will be there for generations to come (knock on wood! ).