Bringing a dull, scratched hardwood floor finish back to perfection used to mean sanding down to bare wood, but not always. A technique called screening takes off the worn top layer of coating, leaving the wood underneath ready for a new finish. It’s inexpensive, less risky and lets you do the work yourself without the hassle of hefty clean-up.
Screening is accomplished with the use of a floor polisher and clog-resistant sanding disks called screens. The weight of the polisher and its synthetic-wool pad hold the screen in place, but you don’t have to have a lot of strength or skill to use one. As long as the floor is not waxed and the wood underneath is not stained or damaged, the screens remove just the floor finish, such as
polyurethane. Then, you can re-finish the wood as you desire.
Steps for Screening
Step 1. Remove everything that collects dust from the room. Seal off doorways, duct registers and cabinet doors with plastic sheeting and masking tape. Open the windows if possible. Remove baseboard molding and put on a respirator.
Step 2. Prepare the screening disk by sanding it with a palm sander and 100-grit sandpaper. Use four screening grits, from rough to smooth (60-, 80-, 100- and 120-grit).
Step 3. Fit the floor polisher with the first screening pad and begin screening the floor, just like you would to sand it. Use the palm sander or sanding pad and sandpaper to get into corners and edges.
Step 4. When the screening is complete, wipe down walls and vacuum dust up from all surfaces. Use a tack cloth to pick up any remaining dust on the floor.
Tips for Sanding Floors
If the floor is waxed, stained or damaged, sand the floor down to the base wood using a drum sander and edger.
- Keep the sander moving, so it doesn’t dig into the wood or leave a noticeable swale
- Move at a steady, even pace, sanding away a uniform amount of top coat and wood
- An edger will fit into many corners, but not all, so use the palm sander
Finish the Floor
The most popular and readily available floor finish is polyurethane, because it’s tough and resistant to constant foot traffic. Choose an oil-based or water-based polyurethane depending on the effect you want to achieve. Oil-based polyurethane dries slowly, is relatively smelly and turns a light amber color with age, while water-based dries quickly, emits no odor and remains clear. With both types of polyurethane, apply at least two coats along the grain of the wood. For the smoothest finish, use a pole sander to sand lightly between each coat using 100-grit sandpaper, leaving the last coat shiny, which will last for years. Polyurethane finished floors can also be waxed and buffed.
To add a different color to a floor rather than the natural wood color, use a penetrating hardwood floor stain before finishing with polyurethane. Apply the stain along the grain of the wood with a rag or paint roller directly to the screened or sanded floor as evenly as possible.
Allow the stain to dry before finishing with several coats of polyurethane – again, sanding lightly between coats.
Penetrating oils and sealers like linseed oil, soak into the wood and the floor will require a wax for protection. Apply directly to the screened or sanded wood surface. Occasionally, wax is used as the only floor finish. Make spot repairs on wax floors by rubbing lightly with steel wool, then applying more wax and buffing.
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your floor refinishing projects. If you have any questions about how to choose floor polisher or floor sander, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Check our recent blog post, How To Sand & Finish Your Wood Floor in 3 Simple Steps, for more helpful information. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.