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The Proper Way to Finish Hardwood Floors
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The Proper Way to Finish Hardwood Floors

While carpeting in a new home is nice, and lends sophistication to it, there's just something about hardwood floors that provide a house with an elegance that nothing else does. And here's something you might not know: If you bought an older house already carpeted, there's a chance that if you pull back the carpeting, you'll discover that the floors are hardwood. If this is the case with your home, when the carpeting is ready for replacing, how about considering restoring the old hardwood floors instead? This means that once the carpet is torn up, or once you've installed new hardwood floors, you'll have to get the floors finished.

First, a note of caution. If you're still in the process of building your home and have installed hardwood floors, wait before you apply the finish. The rest of the house needs to be completed before you start this project. Otherwise, you risk having the dust that often comes with construction sticking to the finish, destroying the beauty of the floors.

One you're sure that you're ready to begin, take everything out of the room. This includes rugs and curtains, because the finishing products could damage anything else in the room. Also, dust from those items could settle onto the finish, ruining it.

Some floors will already have an old finish on them. If this is the case with yours, have a sander ready to remove it. You can rent one at almost any equipment rental shop. As you sand, keep the drum lifted a bit off the floor, and then move the device in even strokes.

As you approach the wall at the other end of the room, lift the drum and move over, lower the drum, and start back the other direction. As you finish each stroke with the sander, take a look at the board you just did. Make sure you've gotten rid of all of the old finish. If not, make another run over that board. However, be careful not to sand so much that you begin to wear down the wood.

You'll have a difficult time with the sander getting the finish that's up near the baseboards. For this job, you'll likely need to use an edger. You'll also use it in the corners of the room, and in tight areas that the sander can't easily reach, such as closets and by the base of fireplaces. One other thing: If you're renting a sander, you might find that the sandpaper is worn, so keep an eye on it, and decide if you need to get new paper for the job.

After you're sure that the sanding job is finished, clean up all the debris from the floor. Now examine the floor closely. Are all nails completely filed down? If not you'll need to do this. Are there open holes? These will have to be filled in, and then sanded down even with the boards. For filling, buy filler at your local home improvement store. These come in enough different varieties that you should be able to easily find one that will match the wood on your floor.

Finally, after you've finished preparing the floor, you can stain it. For the right stain color, ask for an expert opinion. And as you're staining the floor, don't get in a hurry. If you do, you'll likely splash, and then you risk getting the stain on the windows and walls. Use a soft cloth the apply and spread the stain, being careful to stroke with the wood's grain, never against it. Once you've stained the entire surface, let it dry completely. Once totally dry, you will have a gorgeous new floor that will look almost too good to walk on!

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