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Q: One visitor asked, "First, this is the most informative website I have found (after hours upon hours of research) for the subject of floor finishing. I am grateful for it and thank you. My question would be this:

I hired a professional sander to come in and prepare my floors for staining and poly (oil base-gloss by minwax super fast dry formula). They did a good job, but the house is 120 yrs. old and this particular floor is pine. There are some low spots which are VERY grainy (this is pine as well) and I messed up with the non-ventilation so pet hairs found their way into the room. The screen on a pole(220 grit) can't get into there. I keep reading about using buffers, I have read to use steel wool 000, screens 220, sand paper 220 etc. I have considered buying a buffer, but when I go to the stores they don't suggest steel wool and I'm not sure the buffers they sell have pads that can accept screens or paper. What kind of buffer is this? I am afraid to rent a huge buffer and attempt this, as I failed miserably with the rented sander and wound up hiring out the sanding job. At this point, I am screening the areas I can to break the glaze and going back over the sunk spots with a pad and my elbow grease. Not having nearly the problems with the maple floor they also prepared for me though!"

A: We just had a discussion about this at a forum I belong to. I have tried and do not like using a pole sander for the reason you mentioned. Also, it won't get right up to the quarter round and is difficult to control the amount of pressure. Nothing beats some fine sand paper, elbow grease and a good set of knee pads. The problem with steel wool is that it can get stuck on grainy spots and leave strands on the floor. Use a fine abrasive, 120 or finer to degloss and smooth out. I don't see any practical reason you would go out and purchase a buffer. Mine cost $2000. Not something that is done for a one time, or rare use.

When applying a polyurethane, remember that thin coats are always best. You have to try to ensure that not only the floor area, but the surrounding area is as clean as you can get it.


Related questions about refinishing and staining wood floors:
Sanding/Refinishing
>Gloss, Satin, or Semi-Gloss?
>How long will it take me to sand my floors?
>How long would it take you to refinish, stain, and polyurethane...?
>Should I sand my own floors?
>Is it possible to refinish engineered floors?
>Can I sand with nails in place? Can I recoat with a low gloss oil-based urethane?
>Do I have to sand the whole floor, then stain, then polyurethane?
>I was wondering if waxing the floor would be a good option to varnishing?
>Can a soft wood be sanded like a hardwood?
>Is it possible to have too many coats of urethane?
Costs
>Cost to resand 1400 sq. ft.?
>What do people charge for sanding and finishing natural (3 coats- No Sealers)?
>How much will it cost to refinish my hardwood floors?
>There is a living room, dining room, staircase and upstairs hallway, together with 4 small bedrooms which we would like to have done. Is this going to cost thousands of dollars or can it be done quite reasonably?
Filler
>If I fill some gaps *******, and the wood expands some during the summer, will that squeeze some of it out?
>Should finish be applied over filled nail holes?
> Is there a filler for filling the gaps between the planks? Should I punch the nails through and rescrew the planks to the joists before sanding? Do I apply the filler before I sand? What sealer should I use?
Finish Problems (e.g. Air Bubbles)
>What causes air bubbles?
>Did not buffing between coats cause this?
>We had the flooring company come back a second time tofill in some gaps and buff and put another coat on. We now have veryvisible air bubbles in our urethane finish (they were not present the first time). What is the best way to remove the air bubbles?
>I have two rooms. One is 9x12 the other 11x20. They are already stained with a royal mahogony minwax stain. It has a high gloss finish and the finish is now scratched and starting to peel. What do you suggest we do, strip and sand right down? What would the cost be approximately? How long would it take?
>At a doorway my urethane finish has lots of debris in it. How do I fix this?
>A contractor just finished installing/finishing my hardwood floors and left multiple lap marks (covering the entire width of the floor). What should be done about them?
>When there are air bubbles in the polyurethane finish, can you spot sand some of them by hand and then touch up that spot with another coat of polyurethane?
>There are some worn areas on our floor that need refinishing. Is it possible to redo only the worn areas andhave them blend into the older finished areas without redoing the entire floor?
>After many professional sanding and recoats, why is our floor is still rough?
>What do I do now that my finish is peeling off because there is wax in the grain?
>What do we do about problems with swirl marks in the floor finish?
>Why did the polyurethane peel right off?
>There always seems to be a film on the floor and they show all the dirt. Can I remove the 'shiny' top coat and redo with something more 'matte'?
>We have sanded off all the old stain, used the 120 grit to give a smoother finish, used a polyurethane but it still looks dull. I was reading on sanding tips and it says that after we sand the stain off, put the new stain on, then add the polyurethane, to sand it again lightly with a 120 grit and then add another coat of polyurethane for a smoother finish. Is that correct?
>We have put on 2 coats of water based polyurethane on our floors. The floor feels rough. How do you get that hard smooth finish?
>We have done the second coat of polyurethane but the floor is still rough and not shiny! What do we do now?
>The polyurethane coat on our hardwood flooring is peeling and flaking. I was able to scrape off most of the coat in one room. Should I apply wax or polyurethane?
>I just applied stain and poly. Why are my floors sticky?

Staining
>Why is my stain not drying faster?
>We stained our floors. Why are some areas lighter than the rest?
>Can a dark stain be stripped and stained to match lighter floors?
>Do I choose a wood putty to match the colour stain I use? Can I use a minwax-type gel stain that I have used on furniture, or do I need a special floor stain?
>Is there anything that I can do now to repair that blotchy appearance on the pine plank floors I just stained and refinished?
>What colour hardwood works best for a small room?
>How do I get the stain on my banister to look even and not blotchy?
>I stained the floor and allowed it to dry then put the polyurethane on it, which made the floor white, and in some spots the stain came off. why?