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TOPIC: Finishing hardwood floors

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 11:45 #5392

Hello, I'm new to the forum and new to refinishing any type of hardwood flooring, so I want to apologize ahead of time if I have way to many questions. I tried to do a search, but returned no results (maybe search is broken?).

I would like to refinish my hardwood floors, and am going to rent a drum sander from my local home depot. I originally was going to do the edges/parts you'll see (we have area rugs) with a handheld belt sander-It worked well for about 30 seconds then the belt burnt up, and actually left burn marks. Don't know what was going on there.

I was going to start with 36 grit sandpaper, unless you guys think that's too rough, then skip down to whatever they make next, and so on until the floor is smooth. (Using 3 different grits). The part I'm most confused about is the stain/finish. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can apply polyurethane directly to bare wood? I think "staining" the floor would be totally different, and I'm new to this, so I don't want it to come out uneven.

This may be a stupid question, but what do you apply the polyurethane with? A roller? I know they make lambs wool pads, but what do you put the pad on to? Do you put the polyurethane directly onto the floor and smooth it out, or do you dip it from a paint tray? Also, could you recomend a brand of finish? At my local HD they only had Minwax, "Poly", and "Bona" (all oil based). I think I have the sanding aspect figured out, but applying finishing I don't fully understand.

Sorry for such a long post, and thank you for any and all help.

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 12:46 #5393

One more question: If I apply polyurethane directly over bare wood, it will make the floor somewhat darker right? I don't want the floor to look like raw wood-I want some color.

Thanks

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 12:58 #5394

You can apply polyurethane thinned about 10% as a sealer coat then two more coats over that should suffice. We generally use a lambswool applicator. The final two coats are thinned only as needed to achieve the proper consistency. Applying polyurethane requires a plan to work yourself out a door so use your first two coats to hone your plan and address any shortcomings in your technique.

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 16:20 #5395

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Ask the guy at home depot. Research on the internet. If you think your post was long the answer is at least 10 times longer.

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 17:13 #5396

That would take us a long time to answer, to get started check Youtube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZR7SYgQymc ).
You can do it yourself if you have the stamina to do the prep work right, I often hear plenty DIY's say that they wish they had it done by a contractor after they found out all the labor involved (half through the job). If you are patient, have a good mechanical feel and don't mind spending a lot of time it can get done.

Applying finish is really the easier part if you choose to use Oilbased Polyurethane, rolling is easiest for the homeowner. YouTube can be used to research application methods also.

A good contractor should be able to do this in a fraction of the time you will spend on it!

Johannes.

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 17:28 #5397

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Shadwell1020. OH MY OH MY.. For me to advise you on this project would be as much folly as telling you how to paint your car with Pep Boys Equipment & paint.. You will soon find that there is NO OTHER DIY job so tedious, so risky and back breaking-time plus consuming with Rental equipment.. you will honestly finally spend over 50% as much as a pro would charge but the pro will do it in 20% of the time you will!!! over 80% of the people who call me will call back for me to redo the whole thing and I have to charge the same...so they are out from all the wasted time and expense.... the Results??? Major difference.. God Bless and Good LUCK....TDMAC OUT of this one!

Finishing hardwood floors 29 Aug 2012 20:16 #5402

I'm a school custodian, we do the gym floor every summer...but that's a different process. We don't use polyurethane, and we have a mop bucket with a drain hole, and drip a line across the gym. We use a half-circle type spreader to push the finish smooth. Just didn't think it was the same process at home.

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 08:49 #5410

Finally found the answer I was looking for:
"rolling is probably not a good way to apply poly. the lifting of the roller knap from the floor disturbs the finish causing irregularities. a lambswool applicator will help that situation. most of the pros i've watched have never shaken their finishes to mix them, careful sstirring seems to be their approach. in applying the finish, they have poured the amount they want to apply, a little at a time, and then spread it on the floor in passes that are parallel to the direction in which the floor is running."
No one ever says HOW to apply poly, just "apply it" or "use this". Home Depot only sells the lambswool applicator itself...I guess I'm going to look at Lowes for the lambswool applicator that I can screw a handle onto.

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 11:25 #5413

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Mop bucket?? Drain hole?? Circle spreader??? Whut??

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 12:28 #5415

I find that most of these "online forums" typically provide no useful information. You go onto these forums for help and advice, but most of the time just get criticized from the forum "regulars". These forum "regulars" never provide anything useful, they just criticize anything you say and tell you to take it to a pro-after all, there not gonna give there secrets away, they'd rather have you pay them to do it. Totally useless. I should have just called a flooring company and got a straight answer in 5 minutes and skipped all the online bashing. Thanks anyways though.

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 13:07 #5418

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shadwell1020 wrote:
I find that most of these "online forums" typically provide no useful information. You go onto these forums for help and advice, but most of the time just get criticized from the forum "regulars". These forum "regulars" never provide anything useful, they just criticize anything you say and tell you to take it to a pro-after all, there not gonna give there secrets away, they'd rather have you pay them to do it. Totally useless. I should have just called a flooring company and got a straight answer in 5 minutes and skipped all the online bashing. Thanks anyways though.

Whoa there big fella...your questions were very vague at best! There are many ways to put finish on, depending on finish, preferred method of finisher, etc. A responsible flooring company would never tell you how to put on finish, one because...yes they want to make money, two...what kind of wood....what type of stain or sealer, three...what type of finish....roller, t-bar (weighted or unweighted), lambs wool...etc..

By the way...I put sports finish on gym floors. I never have used a mop bucket, or circle spreader, I use the same methods as I use on house floors.

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 15:23 #5419

shadwell1020 wrote:
I was going to start with 36 grit sandpaper, unless you guys think that's too rough, then skip down to whatever they make next, and so on until the floor is smooth. (Using 3 different grits). The part I'm most confused about is the stain/finish. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can apply polyurethane directly to bare wood? I think "staining" the floor would be totally different, and I'm new to this, so I don't want it to come out uneven.
Sanding schedules depend on the condition of your floor, the equipment you are using, and the final grit required by the finish you are going to use. You can apply polyurethane (OMU) directly to the wood, but it is common to apply a sealer first to help with side bonding and to seal in any impurities that might be left behind. I'm not well versed on staining as I prefer the natural look of wood and don't care to get into that bag of worms what with trying to get even application, compatibility with the finish, and trying to match it with repairs.
shadwell1020 wrote:
This may be a stupid question, but what do you apply the polyurethane with? A roller? I know they make lambs wool pads, but what do you put the pad on to? Do you put the polyurethane directly onto the floor and smooth it out, or do you dip it from a paint tray? Also, could you recomend a brand of finish? At my local HD they only had Minwax, "Poly", and "Bona" (all oil based). I think I have the sanding aspect figured out, but applying finishing I don't fully understand.
You can brush it, roll it, pad it, and T-bar it. It depends on the type of finish you are using and is somewhat of a personal choice. Rolling and lamb's wool pads seem to be the most common for OMU unless you're doing a small area then brushing is feasible. I know of one fella that rolls on his OMU then goes back and lightly drags a *quality* (eg. $50) natural bristle brush through the wet OMU to pop the bubbles, but he's the only one I know of that does that. Application techniques vary, but in general you either have a tub of finish to dip the applicator in or you pour out a thin line of finish and spread that around. There's actually a lot more to the technique than "spread it around", but that's a whole other topic to itself.

As far as Home Depot goes, the only thing you should be buying there is mineral spirits for clean up and *maybe* some tool rentals. The quality of products and tools they provide are the cheapest on the market and therefore will produce the worst results and be the least durable. Call around till you find a flooring supplier that will sell retail to the DIY person. I found one place locally that does just that and they saved my bacon by having a new seal kit in stock for my nailer. I was drooling over the gallons of Waterlox they had on the shelves, but that's probably the only finish they would have sold me as Swedish finishes are usually only sold to the pros. They would have rented me a nailer for the whole weekend for $35 while the local HD would have charged me $75 every 24 hours. I didn't ask about sanding equipment prices, but I would expect a similar disparity. Add to that their tools are going to be well cared for and they will train you properly in their correct use.

By the questions you have asked it is clear that you are at the very early stages of this project and have a lot to learn before you can roll up your sleeves. It's best to learn the basics on your own from books such as those by Charles Peterson and Don Bollinger then come back here for specific questions particular to your situation. Charles Peterson specifically suggest the U-Sand machine rented by HD is suitable for the DIY, though most pros around here find them too slow and would probably only use them for special situations. I'm a DIY homeowner too and I just spent the past 3.5 weeks tearing out carpet, linoleum, and particle board then prepping the subfloor and installing the new wood. I can tell you that what my contractor would have charged me for that labor was very reasonable (I just wanted to do some of the work myself) and I'll be paying him to do a sand and finish because I want the floors to look good, be done in a few days, and I can't get my hands on Swedish finishes. You might want to get a quote from a NWFA certified contractor, but if you still want to do the sand and finish yourself then I'd suggest getting PoloPlaz as it seems to be a popular brand with some of pros.

Finishing hardwood floors 30 Aug 2012 16:34 #5421

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Pardon for ruffling your feathers there Shad....This forum seems to work well for those who are having problems and learning about the correct decisions to have their flooring done properly. In my Opinion, this NWFA Forum is NOT to teach folks how to do a job, especially sanding a floor. as that would be FOLLY, since, when you did something wrong, you would then say....OH he said so on the forum.
Learn to rebuild your car engine by going on line??? learn to paint your car on a forum??? some projects can not be taught on the phone or on line. Sanding and finishing is one project you should have a pro do it. Installing with nails....OK we can help as that task is so much more defined. I am here to discuss over all parameters with other pro's and folks who need basic sound advise on Hardwood flooring.
I do wish you luck but as was stated by others, go to a You tube video and hope that will get you there.

Finishing hardwood floors 31 Aug 2012 16:01 #5432

shadwell1020 wrote:
I find that most of these "online forums" typically provide no useful information. You go onto these forums for help and advice, but most of the time just get criticized from the forum "regulars". These forum "regulars" never provide anything useful, they just criticize anything you say and tell you to take it to a pro-after all, there not gonna give there secrets away, they'd rather have you pay them to do it. Totally useless. I should have just called a flooring company and got a straight answer in 5 minutes and skipped all the online bashing. Thanks anyways though.

You asked what to use as an applicator and I answered.
Sorry you think you were treated shabbily but exactly what did you expect after asking a DIY question in a forum for and by industry professionals? Did you expect someone to take an hour to type out an answer. Before the advent of the internet, people like you would come in my showroom, ask me to tell them how to sand and finish a floor then leave without buying anything.
You get what you pay for. I'm incredulous that an internet search didn't turn up information more to your liking. Try this:
https://www.google.com/webhp?source=search_app#hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=how+to+refinish+hardwood+floors&oq=how+to+refinish&gs_l=hp.1.3.0l4.908.4727.0.7878.15.11.0.4.4.1.375.1820.0j9j1j1.11.0.les%3B..0.0...1c.MVLJvC5L0Xw&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&fp=dcba65b68bf92b64&biw=1598&bih=839

I came up with about 1,010,000 results to "how to refinish hardwood floor".
<em>edited by jfcwood on 8/31/2012</em>

Finishing hardwood floors 31 Aug 2012 19:32 #5435

Thank you SteveM, for providing a detailed and useful answer. Didn't know this was for "professionals" only, it doesn't say anywhere that you can't create a username unless your a pro. (There was another forum that did state that, which is why I came to this one.) And as far as what we do here at the school, I couldn't remember the name of the equipment we use, however we use a "t-bar" with a pad, but it's like a paint roller cut in half-which is why I said half-circle, bad wording. What's so hard to understand about a mop bucket with a drain hole in the side of it? There's a handle that opens the spout and you drip a line...And jfcwood, you simply stated "lambswool applicator" could it be any more vague?

Finishing hardwood floors 31 Aug 2012 20:21 #5436

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I would use a t-bar applicator and whatever type of finish you use on the gym floor (oil or waterborne) (skip the mop bucket, just pour it fom the container) because you are familiar with that type of system. Now simply choose what finish you want to use and follow the instructions on the container. No sense teaching an old dog new tricks. As you said anyone can use this forum...that doesn't mean you will get the answers you want. It would be like someone asking the proper way to care for a school on a forum....a hundred different ways by a thousand different people, everyone is right and everyone is wrong
<em>edited by Jeff on 8/31/2012</em>

Finishing hardwood floors 31 Aug 2012 22:22 #5437

listen, you don't need to get upset for the lack of support here. You stated you had no and you meant no experience in wood floors. The experienced men and women here either thought you were crazy to ask them how to finish wood floors or just chose to not reply. As expected, every comment posted made you ask more questions. This is endless and somewhat insulting. This trade done right is not to be learnt in one day, one year or Google search. You don't go asking a surgeon how to perform oral surgery and then trace your steps back to "hi, let me take some x rays". Same thing with us, you don't go how do I finish wood floors? and then go "so in what angle should I hold the brush in relation to the sun?".
It is not my intention to insult you or upset you, it is just the way I express myself. I hope you get the point I am trying to make.

Finishing hardwood floors 31 Aug 2012 22:58 #5440

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Avi, well said! this forum is not to each our trade. Some folks have the mislead thoughts that they can do what we have toil over for years with just some online instructions. The recoil from this one is sad as we here try to advise on what will be the real valid results.. Shad has disillusionment of grandeur since he has GYM finish experience.. OH WELL
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