Refinishing hardwood flooring is a more affordable alternative to completely replacing it. Refinishing also gives you the opportunity to restore your old, worn-out real wood floors to their original luster, rather than having to settle for laminate instead. You'll be able to remove scratches, cuts and other abrasions due to years of wear and tear from the wood floors. Prior to refinishing them, however, you'll need to do a little prep work.
Here are some things to do or consider before refinishing your hardwood floors:
1. Plan to refinish the floors during a time of year when the humidity at it's lowest. Avoid starting this project during the rainy season, as bare, natural wood is porous and will absorb any moisture in the air. Also, if you use polyurethane as a protective finish on the floors, it will take much longer to dry in moist, humid conditions.
If you can, it's best to schedule the floor refinishing project during the driest part of the year, which may be summer or winter depending on where you live.
2. A day before you start refinishing, remove everything, including furniture, plants and decor items, from the room. Don't forget wall hangings, lamps, and books and items on built-in shelves as well, since wood dust can coat anything left behind.
Be sure to remove any window treatments, such blinds or draperies, as well. If there are closets in the room, remove all of the items inside. Protect kids and pets by blocking off the room with a baby gate, which will keep them out of the area during the refinishing process. You can also hang an old sheet or blanket in the doorway to prevent dust from escaping to other parts of your home.
3. Tape plastic bags or sheets over heating and AC vents to prevent dust from entering and contaminating the air filters. If there's anything that you didn't remove from the rooms, such as heavy artwork, be sure to protect it with plastic as well.
4. Plan to leave your home, taking any pets with you, when the polyurethane is applied. Polyurethane, which is applied to wood floors after the refinishing process, contains several toxic chemicals and has a strong odor. The product manufacturer may recommend allowing it only 24 to 48 hours to dry, but it may take up to a week or more, depending on your climate. Polyurethane will release the strong smell until it is fully dried or "cured." Consider using water-based polyurethane, which is considered more eco-friendly than its traditional oil-based counterpart.
For more information on hardwood floor refinishing, talk to a professional.