Wood Floor Refinishing & Recoating Process
There are several steps involved in the process of refinishing and recoating, and many depend on the particular home and flooring situation. The following are the basic steps involved:
Screening the Floor
Not all floors can be screened, so this step may or may not be on the list for a particular flooring project. If the floor in question qualifies, though, this step could be the only one necessary before applying a new coat of polyurethane finish on the floors.
Screens are clog-resistant sanding disks, and the process of screening removes the floor finish without cutting into the wood itself. This step should only be done on a floor with a non-waxed polyurethane finish floor.
Screening can only occur when the floor’s finish is worn, scratched or dull, but the wood beneath has not been damaged or stained. This process is also called buffing and tends to cost around $1 to $2 per square foot, totaling $200 to $250 to complete a slightly worn room measuring 15×15 feet, or 225 square feet.
Sanding the Wood
When there is a wax coating on top of the floor’s polyurethane finish or when the wood underneath the finish has been damaged or stained, the finish must be sanded down. During this step, the existing finish on top of the hardwood floors is sanded down to just bare wood. Though it’s possible for homeowners to rent a sander and take on this step themselves, the risk of leaving large gouges in the floor is relatively high for a DIY project. This task is best left to the professionals.
Staining the Hardwood
This step might not be required if the color of the hardwood floors is already fine. If homeowners desire a different hardwood floor color or tone, though, it’s time to call in a professional to stain the floor. This step generally requires several applications in addition to sanding in between coats. This typically adds time and cost to the overall project.
Finishing or Coating
The most common finish is polyurethane, which resists nearly everything and can withstand heavy traffic. Both types of polyurethane finish are durable but have a few distinct differences. An oil-based finish will turn an amber color over time, while a water-based finish will remain clear, keeping the wood the same color over time.
Water-based finish dries faster, which can be a bonus if there’s a time restriction or deadline. This type of finish cannot be worked on when wet, though, so hardwood professionals must take care not to make mistakes when working with water-based finishes. Oil-based finish takes around 24 hours to dry, and it’s easy to fix mistakes along the way with this type of finish. A final distinction is the cost. Water-based polyurethane runs around $40 to $ 165.00 per gallon, while oil-based polyurethane is around $25 to $ 35.00 per gallon.
Other options for finish are water and acid-cured. Water-based finishes are more eco-friendly with low odors and VOCs, but they are not as durable as other finishes. An acid-cured finish leaves an exceptionally tough coating through a two-part process. A bonus for the acid-cured finish is that it dries extremely fast, so it’s possible to apply two coats in a single day. Most brands of acid-cured finish produce a volatile odor that forces homeowners to leave the home until the project is finished, in addition to avoiding using light switches and turning off pilot lights.
From finish quality to hardwood type, several factors can increase the cost of refinishing hardwood floors. Here are some of the most common factors that increase the cost of a refinishing project:
Exotic wood: If the floors are made from exotic lumber, expect to pay a premium price since exotic floors are more difficult to work with. For instance, some exotic woods will have extreme reactions when their moisture levels change, while others can burnish during sanding because of their hardness. Other exotic woods’ dust can make people physically ill and therefore must be handled with extreme and expert care.
Increased square footage: Of course, the more square feet included in a project, the more it will cost. The cost of refinishing an average 15×15 (225 square feet) room is $340 to $900, costing anywhere from $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot.
Quality of previous finish: The finish that is currently on the hardwood floors can be a major factor in the work required to refinish or recoat the floors. A project originally imagined as a recoating project only can become a more involved refinishing project if the coating currently on them is low quality.
Stairs: Refinishing stairs costs extra, generally $45 to $95 per step.