Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>Hardwood floors - knowing when to refinish
4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hardwood floors - knowing when to refinish

I just purchased a new home with about 500 square feet of hardwood flooring. The previous owners didn't take care of the flooring. The polyurethane is cracking off in many places and there is severe sun damage.
The house had been standing empty for more than a year. Now that we are using the floor I am worried about further damage like absorbing dust and moisture. Will it hurt to wait a 6 months to refinish or should we do it immediately?
Second questions: How do we know if we need a total refinish, or can we "screen" the floor and reapply polyurethane?
Last question: any advice on whether this is a one-person DIY project or professional job? I've done a lot of antique furniture resoration, but a floor is a big project, and I'd be working by alone because my husband isn't too handy.

Re: Hardwood floors - knowing when to refinish


If the urethane Is literally "flaking off" I doubt that just coating over it is advisable, Also, sunfading will not be address by merely putting more urethane over it.

Will it hurt if you wait a few months? I doubt it very much, at least not under normal wear.

Is it possible to do yourself? Old fashioned drum sanders are very heavy and difficult to use. However, there are large orbital type sanders that have large pads which can do the job, especially since you do not have a huge area. You will use progressively finer grit sandpapers, starting with probably a very course 24 grit.

After the floor has been sanded to bare wood, you can use either oil or water based urethane varnish. My personal biase is for oil based, but water based is much faster and has far less odor, of importance if you must live in the house during the process. You need at least three coats of oil, or 4 coats of water based urethane. The first coat will somewhat raise the grain and should be lightly sanded or screened to smooth the grain. After that, additional coats do not neccessarily need to be sanded. Follow the instructions on the urethane can. Urethanes are somewhat odd in that they have a "window" within which you can recoat without sanding, but if you wait too long, you should give a scuff sanding to assure adhesion.

One good source of information these days is "You Tube". There are videos posted on just about any topic.

Re: Hardwood floors - knowing when to refinish

For what you described in your posting, only a complete refinish will give you the resuls you expect.

The sanding part is so dusty, you'll seal the rest of the house off, and still end up with dust everywhere. Consider hiring a pro, at least for the sanding. I would.

Timothy Miller
Re: Hardwood floors - knowing when to refinish

Check out Handyman magazine old issue for restoring wood floors it might save you$$$$.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.