What is Floor Refinishing?
Updated: May 9
Your floor’s finish is an important component of maintaining its appearance and integrity. A strong seal coating preserves the natural beauty of a wood floor. It can protect the floorboards and structure underneath from leaks and spills, and prevent wear and tear like scuffs and scratches. In this article we will cover the various options that you have for reviving your floor’s original look and durability.
Which refinishing method is best for your floor?
If your floor finish is so important, which refinishing method options do you have, and how to choose the right one for you?
There are three major refinishing types: Sanding, Buffing and Sandless. Here’s how they differ:
Sanding – By sanding the old floor surface down to the hardwood or parquet, this method completely removes the old, worn-out top layer. This reveals a beautiful fresh layer of wood which then gets stained to the colour of your choice and then sealed with the all important sealer. Best used when the floor has most of its original thickness and can afford to be sanded down thinner. This method removes deep gouges, discoloration and minor water damage. It’s also the only true method for changing the colour of the floor. Don’t use this method if the floor is “cupping”, is too thin to sand or if having to clean significant amounts of construction dust from your walls, windows and ducts are unacceptable side-effects of refinishing. Look into “dustless” refinishing for a cleaner option.
Buffing – This method removes a very thin layer of the old surface finish, without taking it down to the wood. The new seal is then applied over top, making this method a good option for when the floorboards cannot be sanded any thinner. It’s a good alternative for removing small scratches and imperfections, as well as providing the necessary protection from dust and water damage. It doesn’t, however, help with deeper scratches or with changing the stain colour of the floor. It also doesn’t work if the prior finish has worn down to the wood.
Sandless - A relatively new method that uses a chemical solution instead of sanding to remove the old finish of the floor, without removing any wood. This is an alternative to buffing, which maintains maximum thickness of the floorboards. This method doesn’t impact the thickness of the floorboards, but it is limited in the ability to remove water stains, any discoloration or remove deeper scratches. Some sandless refinishing companies advertise the ability to change the colour of your floor’s stain.
Can your floor be refinished?
Not all floors can be refinished. Those floors that have pieces of floorboards splintering off or have large voids and crevices cannot be refinished. If the floor is severely “cupping” or warping, it also cannot be refinished. Finally, if the floor is decaying, rotting or crumbling, refinishing won’t save it.
How to protect your new finish?
Squeaking, creaking, cracking or clicking sounds are all symptoms of loose floorboards, which can cause a number of issues for your newly refinished floor coating.
A newly refinished floor is sealed with one continuous layer of sealer. However, when you start to walk on the floor that is even slightly loose the new seal can crack between the floorboards. This crack will once again be allowing moisture and sand to enter the floor. The water that enters into these cracks can start to peel the new coating. You’ve spent so much time and money and you’re back to square one!
The best way to prevent this type of damage to a newly a finished floor is to stop the movement of the floorboards before refinishing it.
Squeak Knights is the only specialized service for silencing and eliminating movement in existing floors and stairs without the need for floor replacement. After resolving squeaks and removing excessive movement, your finish will have its best chance of lasting and protecting your floor.
Stabilizing and silencing your floor is necessary to ensure the quality and longevity of any of the refinishing methods mentioned above.
Written by the Squeak Knights Team.
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