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Liquid Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Liquid Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Back in the olden days hardwood floor refinishing was a nightmare. One would bring in the heavy sanders and start grinding away. It still has to be done in some cases, but I find out every day that people forget that they actually don't walk on a wood floor. They are walking on top of a clear finish that is on top of the wood floor!

Invisible is the Reason

Since clear finishes are just that - clear - you have a very hard time seeing them wear. Colored or patterned objects show wear quickly. The trouble with wood floors is that you want to avoid heavy sanding if at all possible. If you can do this, an average wood floor has an indefinite lifespan. Sanding a wood floor destroys it as each sanding removes wood fibers. You only want to sand a wood floor one time - that's it!

This floor sanding machine uses abrasive belts to sand the hardwood floors down to bare wood. The plastic hanging over the opening is to help control dust. PHOTO CREDIT: Roger R. Henthorn

This floor sanding machine uses abrasive belts to sand the hardwood floors down to bare wood. The plastic hanging over the opening is to help control dust. PHOTO CREDIT: Roger R. Henthorn

 Screening is the Alternative

Wood floor care professionals know that the way to avoid sanding is to apply another maintenance coat of finish before the current finish wears away. Before the new liquid finishes were developed, the method was simple. A refinisher would bring in a low speed buffing machine equipped with a special pad. This pad lightly scuffed up the finish. Dust was removed with a special vacuum and then the really good refinishers would wipe the floor with a rag soaked in mineral spirits to remove every trace of dust.

After the floor is wiped with the mineral spirits a fresh coat of urethane is applied. This method of avoiding pesky sanding is used by many professional refinishers even as I write this. But many pros are discovering that the dust free liquid products are just as good if not better. One thing is for sure. Anytime you can avoid creating dust of any type or amount you are miles ahead!

DIY Liquids

The new liquid systems are readily available. The average homeowner can get really good results using them. All too often, I see home improvement columns, TV shows, etc. that tell folks like you that this or that is easy to do. Well, the truth is many home improvement projects are hard to do and without lots of experience, it is impossible for an average person to get professional results.

Pouring the urethane on the floor. The wide applicator can be seen in the background. PHOTO CREDIT: Roger R. Henthorn

Pouring the urethane on the floor. The wide applicator can be seen in the background. PHOTO CREDIT: Roger R. Henthorn

 The liquid hardwood floor refinishing systems are different. The average person can get professional results! One of the hardest things to learn is how to NOT overwork the finish. I wish you could see how professionals apply urethane. They use a wide applicator much like a squeegee. They quickly apply the finish using back and forth sweeping motions across a floor. You can see lap marks, it almost always looks like they put too much urethane on, and it generally looks sloppy! The magical thing is that two hours later the floors look awesome. The reason why is simple. 90 to 95 percent of the volume of the liquid finish disappears into the air! As the finish dries, the finish levels itself and dries perfectly. You can only make a mistake if you leave a deep puddle in a spot.

Don't Run Out

Pay attention to the coverage amounts on the products. Don't get caught with not enough finish! If the label says 225 square feet of surface area and you have 220 square feet, you better think about buying more BEFORE you start. You can always take it back if you don't open it! But, if you get started, run out during the process and then try to run to the store to get more, you WILL have a lap mark where the first batch of finish dried while you were gone. You must maintain a wet edge as you apply the material. Be sure you are awake and alert as well. If you miss a spot it will stick out like a sore thumb!

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