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How To Restore and Care For Your Solid Wood Floor

By Paul Hambidge, Managing Director on 18th July 2019.

Solid wood flooring is a sound investment for your home, with its striking good looks holding fast for many years to come. If maintained properly it can last for tens of years, meaning there's no need to think about replacing your floors for a long time once you've installed your solid wood floors. However, accidents happen, and if your solid wood floors are beginning to look a little tired then you may be considering whether to repair or renew them. To help you decide we've put together a comprehensive guide for the maintenance and care of your solid floor.

What kind of care does your hardwood floor need?

The first question you need to answer is what kind of care your floor needs. This can range from resurfacing and refinishing to applying new stains and varnishes. Read on and find out exactly what your solid wood needs to look like new.

Should I repair or renew scuffs?

Scuffs are bound to occur over time, no matter the material of your floor. If this is the issue when you're deciding to repair or renew your solid woof floor then, depending on the extent of the damage, we would recommend repairing the damage.

You can do this by sanding down the all of the boards in the room to the level of the marked bands, before re-staining and varnishing for a brand new looking floor in a matter of days.

Should I repair or renew scratches?

Scratches are an unfortunately common mark to occur to solid wood floors and can be caused by wearing heeled shoes, pets claws or fine dust and dirt. If the scratches on your floor are fine then simply sanding and re-finishing should be sufficient. If, however, the scratches are more like gouges, then it may be advisable to replace the boards altogether, as sanding a scratch that's particularly deep could lead to you sand too much of the board away.

Should I repair or renew dents?

Dents can occur from heeled shoes, heavy furniture or dropping heavy items on your wooden floor. As a dent is simply a compression of the wood fibre it is possible to repair it by applying some water to the site of the mark, covering with a cloth and ironing over it gently. The water will expand the wood as the iron will force the water to rise upwards, expanding the wood as it does.

However, this only works for smaller dents and if you have a particularly large dent then repairing with sanding may be your only option. If the dent is too deep to sand, and you can't cover the offending area with a rug., then you will have to replace the floorboards.

Should I repair or renew water damage?

Water damage is one of the worst forms of damage for a solid wooden floor. To repair or renew this damage, your only option, in this case, is renewing your floors. If you wish to minimise the cost of a complete renewal of your solid wooden floor then you can try replacing the boards that are affected, though the colour may be slightly different from your original boards.

Repairing water damaged flooring

How To Resurface A Solid Wood Floor

When first buying solid wooden floors we do recommend buying extra boards for any repairs in the future. These boards are much more likely to match up with your original floor, to present a seamless, uniform finish in your home.

As beautiful and hard-wearing as your hardwood flooring may be, over the years it's guaranteed to become even a little worn. Faint scratches, deep gouges, scuffs and dents are all quite commonplace marks to occur on hardwood floors once enough years have passed, but these can all be fixed with a good resurfacing job. Before you begin, however, these are the things you need to know about resurfacing hardwood flooring.

Know how old your floors are

To take on the task of resurfacing hardwood flooring you need to have a general idea of how old your floors are. After about twenty years hardwood floors will begin to show some wear. This means that if you know your floors were installed by the previous tenants longer than twenty years ago, there's a very big chance that they have been resurfaced at least once before. Fortunately hardwood floors can be resurfaced around 6 to 8 times during their lifetime so you have a very strong chance of being able to do so again, unless the previous tenant was a particularly aggressive finisher.

Know the depth to resurface

Hardwood floors need at least 2mm of wood available to sand if you wish to refinish them. If you're resurfacing your floors because you have a scratch, dent or gouge then you need to make sure that you can sand your hardwood floors to the depth required to get rid of the offending mark.

What resurfacing hardwood flooring involves

Once you've worked out that your hardwood floors have enough surface wood available for you to sand to a depth below the damaged areas then its time to consider the other things involved in the process. If your floor doesn't have deep gouges and only has a few worn patches then you may not even need a full refinishing job. In this case only the finish on the hardwood flooring will be sanded away and not any of the wood itself. Your floors can then be easily re-varnished.

Wooden floor resurfacing

If however, your floors do require a thorough resurfacing job then know that this is a job for the professionals, not a DIY task. As much fun as it is to be able to do work in your own home, attempting to resurface your own floors will eventually end up in your spending more time and money than you would if you simply hired a professional to do the work for you. You should also bear in mind that no matter how skilled the person fixing your floors is, they will mark your baseboards in some way so you should factor this into your eventual pricing plans.

Further Considerations For Resurfacing Your Floor

Before you begin making preparations for resurfacing hardwood flooring in your home know that you should also be making plans for alternative accommodation if the floors are used often. This is because the job of resurfacing hardwood flooring usually takes several days. This includes an average of two days for sanding, with an extra day for each coat of stain and at least three coats of varnish.

However once your hardwood floors have been completely sanded, stained and varnished you'll be left with beautiful floors.

How To Refinish Solid Wood Floors

A solid wood floor is a homeowner's pride and joy once it's laid down. A solid wood floor is made from a single piece of timber and looks absolutely magnificent. These floors are stable, last over a century if cared for well, and are recommended to those who want their home to be just that bit more special. However after a certain period of time you may need to refinish them, as general wear and tear begins to take its inevitable toll.

Why refinish a solid wood floor?

One day, you'll think back to the day your wood floor was put down and be struck at the memory of a brighter, fresher looking wooden feel. Over time, your wood floors will unfortunately fade and wear away in areas of particularly high traffic. They may suffer a spilled drink or two, the accidental heavy footed high heel, or simply months to years of feet gradually wearing away the top protective layer. However refinishing wood floors is certainly much cheaper than replacing them.

Before you begin your journey to a refinished and refreshed wood floor, make sure you've given it a very good clean. Shift all the furniture into another room, vacuum in every corner and run over it with a lightly damp mop. Once you've done this you'll have a great view of the whole floor, and see exactly where the floor refinishing is particularly needed.

How to refinish floors

Sanding

  • Hire a sander and make sure you have studied its safety advice - they can be quite heavy.
  • Fit heavy grit sandpaper to the sander and start to work in the direction of the grain.
  • Once you've done this, repeat by using lighter grit sandpaper. Keep sanding in the direction of the wood grain to get an even finish.

Refinishing floors by sanding

Staining

ignore this step if you prefer the natural timber look

  • Vacuum the whole floor to remove all dust and sawdust from the sanding.
  • Test the stain you’ve chosen on a small, inconspicuous area of floor to confirm you’re happy with the shade.
  • Stain the whole surface of your floor evenly and leave plenty of time for it to dry out.

Finishing

  • Use a soft brush or roller to apply a polyurethane finish to the floor. Leave it for a few hours to dry.
  • Ideally, you should leave the floor to dry for about 4 to 5 hours and then apply another layer of finish and leave to dry thoroughly. The wood will look fantastic and last that bit longer.

A solid hard wood flooring is wholly made from real wood and this means that your floor will be extra durable. You'll be able to sand, refinish and re-coat you floor several times, regularly leaving it looking brand new every time. This is why solid hard wood lasts longer than other types of flooring. Floor refinishing can bring to life solid wood floors, no matter how old they may be.

Cleaning and restoring a wooden floor

How to stain a solid wood floor

Solid wood floors are a huge investment to make in your home and, if looked after well, will be a beautiful feature for years to come. However, over time tastes change, and things in your home will become worn, including your solid wood floors. Whether its because you would prefer a darker floor or your floors need reinvigorating after a lifetime of hard wear, then you may be considering how to stain a solid wood floor to award them a new lease of life.

Knowing how to stain a solid wood floor is usually a task best left to the experts but if you really think you could pull this off yourself, or simply want to improve your DIY skills, then knowing the various steps off by heart is a good start:

1. Put On Protective Gear

Make sure you're wearing protective gloves and a good quality mask to prevent you from inhaling too many fumes. When it comes to staining floors going without gloves is not an option as you'll end up with hands a different colour than the rest of your body.

Hard wood flooring protective gear

Make sure you're as well as prepared as possible before starting as there's no chance of a break once you begin unless you want a rather obvious join in the patches of stain where you first started and where you picked it up.

2. Sand Your Floor

To get an even finish it's crucial that you sand your floors until they're silky smooth and even throughout the entirety of the floor-space.

Sanding and restoring a wooden floor

3. Prepare Your Stain

You should prepare the colour of the stain that you wish to use by either mixing with other water-based or spirit-based stains, or by diluting with the proper diluting fluid. Shake the can enough before pouring it out into a paint kettle, which you will use to dip your rag in as you stain.

4. Apply the Stain

You should have two rags – 'rag 1' and 'rag 2'. Rag 1 will be used to apply the stain. To do this, dip your rag into the stain and then apply in a circular motion onto your floor section by section. Then use rag 2 to wipe over the newly applied stain for an even finish.

Staining a solid wooden floor

Where to stain a solid wood floor

Beginning at the far end of the room, furthest from the exit, you should stain areas that are within arms length, without having to strain to reach. Keep in mind that the less boards you stain in one go, the faster you can move.
To begin with run the stain along the corner of the wall, a metre along the side wall and along a metre of the adjoining wall. Swiftly dip rag 1 into the stain mixture, allowing any excess to drip off, before wiping over the newly stained section with rag 2.
Complete one side of the room like this before turning to the other. By the end you should be left with a slim corridor like access point, which will be the final section that you stain, leaving you by the exit.

Why should you stain a solid wood floor?

If you're making the decision to rejuvenate your floor then whatever way you choose to do this will involve a lot of work. However the pay off is worth it, with your floors dramatically improving the look of the room they're in.

There are two ways to change the colour of your floors in order to extend their lifespan. These involve either painting or staining your floors, depending on the look you desire to achieve. For the purposes of a superior quality finish we strongly recommend staining your floor. Staining your floor means the colour is locked into the boards, sealed with a waterproof varnish. If you choose to simply paint the boards, this paint is likely to become chipped over time, revealing the previous colour of the boards below.

Why Varnish A Solid Wood Floor?

Finally, once your newly stained floor has dried, which should take at least 24 hours, you can coat it with a varnish. We would recommend a clear varnish, to make the most of the colour of the stain you have so recently applied. We would recommend applying at least three coats of this to protect the stain and give it some depth in colour.

Paul Hambidge, Managing Director

Paul has 32 years of flooring industry knowledge & experience from both an installation and manufacturing perspective. He started out as installer of very large commercial flooring projects for multiple retailers. As director of Factory Direct Flooring, he has been involved in all aspects of flooring and has worked with some of the largest producers of wood flooring, vinyl flooring and laminate floors.