Monday, April 11, 2011

Varnish Hardwood Floor

As I discussed in my prior post on refinishing your hardwood floor, you now need to varnish it.  When you begin refinishing and varnishing your hardwood floor, make sure that you match your varnish to the wood in the rest of your house. For instance, if you are only doing a kitchen, you will need to match the varnish to your other hardwood floors. If you are doing the whole house just choose the varnish you like. Your local hardware store will have lots of choices.

Tip – don't buy too much varnish, it goes a lot further than you think. Eyeballing your square footage wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Varnish comes in the form of a stain and a finish. Once you have chosen your varnish, you will need several items: (1) several old rages; (2) a paint tin to place the varnish in, (3) a pole sander.

Place the varnish in the paint tin and sop it up with a clean rag. Dip the rag lightly in the varnish and begin rubbing the varnish into the wood in even with the grain strokes. Don't leave wetness behind. Also, don't paint yourself into a corner.

Keep an additional dry rag handy for going over the wet varnish after you have rubbed the varnish into the wood. Do this throughout the entire floor area you are refinishing. Pay attention to detail.

After the first coat of stain dries, you need to use your long-handle sander to buff off the first layer of varnish slightly. This is an easy process and you don't need to put too much muscle grease into it. Just take it easy. Once you have sanded it, you can stain again if you want to or go directly to finish.

Once you complete the first stain, you can do one of two things: (1) sand and apply more stain to make it as dark as you want or, (2) sand and apply finish. Depending on what stain and finish you buy, you may have to wait longer or extra applications of each. Don't worry, this doesn't take that long. Also, you should wait twelve hours between applying each coat of the finish.

After the first finish application goes on, your floor should start to look really cool and you can feel proud of yourself and all the money you saved. Once you put the second coat of finish on, it needs to dry for seven days without anything on it. You can probably walk lightly on it a couple times, but just take it easy. If you are doing your kitchen, make plans for how you are going to eat food for a couple days because the fridge is likely to be near wet varnish and sealant for a while.

Once you have waited a week – put stuff on your floor, take pictures, enjoy!


Refinishing A Hardwood Floor

If you are a do-it-yourselfer or you just don't want to pay somebody else to do it, you might want to learn how to refinish a hardwood floor.  WARNING:  Trying to do jobs yourself that professional like lawyers, contractors, dentists, and other trained professionals, can result in a less than professional look to your new floor.)  

The first step in refinishing your hardwood floor is to determine whether you have patience and attention to detail – because you are going to need both. Once you determine your level of commitment, you will need some tools.

The first set of tools for refinishing your hardwood floor is a large device called a belt sander. Most floors also have edges and corners so you are going to need an edge sander too. Both of these items are for sale at many hardware stores, but a cheaper and more cost-effective solution is to rent them yourself. There are many tool rental stores and you simply need to do a search in your area and pick one.

A typical belt sander should cost you somewhere in the range of $80-$130 for a one day rental. An edge sander will be less and usually runs between $30-50 a day to rent. Add that up, and you are looking at $120-150 total for the sanding tool rentals. Also, a single room is easier to finish in one day, but quite a bit of sanding can get done in a day if you really want to do it.

The rental store will probably help you with what sandpaper you will need to install on these machines. Typically, sanding your floor involves sanding levels:

  1. heavy grain sandpaper to buff the wood down quickly;
  2. medium grain sandpaper to buff the wood down to almost fine, and;
  3. light or fine grain sandpaper to make the wood nice, smooth, and even.

The sandpaper can typically be installed on your belt and edge sanders fairly easily. Be careful that you put the sandpaper on correctly as failure to place the sandpaper properly will result in a loose connection and easy ripping of the sandpaper. Ripping can cause you to momentarily be startled and lose concentration. It may cause you to sand your wood in an unsightly fashion.

Once you get the main tools and sandpaper you need some minor tools to keep you safe. I recommend using a shop-vacuum for clean up. You will also need eye goggles, mouth protection, a hair net, and definitely ear plugs. All these things help keep you safe and clean during the messy sanding process.

Additionally, because sanding wood three different times with three different grains of sandpaper is messy, you need to cover your room furniture and valuables. You can use plastic, garbage bags, old sheets – anything that protects stuff from dust. Better yet, just take your furniture and other valuables out of the room altogether.

Once you have gotten all of your tools and cleaned out the room, you can begin sanding. The sanding process is not difficult, but it can be easy to create gouges in your floor. This is where the attention to detail part comes in. Don't turn on the sander and leave it on the floor for any extended period of time. Doing so will result in gouges in the wood. Gouges don't look good. (Additionally, you may not notice the gouge until you stain the wood which is bad because you are going to have to start over again at that point.)

What you need to do with the belt sander is make easy and even passes up and down the wood and always with the grain. Going against the grain can make your floor look very bad. You don't need to worry about this as much with the edge sander, but do pay attention to the circular strokes of the edge sander as it can cause gouging as well. Basically, pay close attention to what you are doing and never, never stop the sander on the wood for very long. After that, it's pretty easy.

Once you go up and down the wood with the belt sander, and around the corners with the edge sander, you can change your sandpaper and go to the finer grain. Doing this with all three types of grain is very important as missing an area with one level of sandpaper will cause the floor to look darker and unsightly when you stain it because the wood will not pick up stain evenly.

Now that you've gotten all of the sanding done you will have to clean the floor very well. Use the shop vac to clean up all particles of wood. Check the wood for uneven areas where you might need to use the fine grain sandpaper again. If you are satisfied with the look and feel of the unvarnished wood, you can commence with varnishing.