When Should You Restore Your Hardwood Floor?
As beautiful and durable as they are, hardwood floors are still susceptible to the wear effects of daily life. All that foot traffic, the sun’s radiation bearing down on the structure and affecting the lignin, changes in humidity resulting in the regular expansion and contraction of the wood, stains from accidental spills, scratches from footwear or pets’ claws – these all have an effect on the wood floor. This is also why it is imperative to have the floor finished with protective treatments that match the abrasion resistance requirements of the structure. These finishes set a barrier that shields the underlying wood from damage, prolonging its life. However, the finishes are not invincible. There will come a time when a renovation will be required, due to the deterioration of the surface. With this renovation, the floor’s beauty is restored, and also protective properties are obtained to preserve the structural integrity of the installation.
How often should the floor sanding and refinishing be carried out? This will vary from one installation to the next, but predominantly comes down to how much wear there is. Here are signs that it is time to have your hardwood floor restored:
- Faded surface
The primary cause of this is the sun’s effect on the wood and finish coats. The UV radiation affects the lignin of the wood, causing it to fade, such as is the case for Red Oak, Maple and Hickory. However, for some species like Brazilian Cherry or Tigerwood, they will darken. For finish coats on the other hand, the effect of the sun on them will depend on the chemical makeup of the product used. Some will fade, others will develop a yellow tint. Either way, this clashes with the original look of the wood floor, necessitating an overhaul in order to have fresh treatments applied – and this will require a complete floor sanding to get to the bare wood.
Water remains one of the main threats against the wood floor – and the scale of the effects of it on your installation will determine whether or not it is due for a renovation. From water stains, greying wood due to the polyurethane finish wearing off and causing the wood to absorb more moisture, to the likes of cupping and warping – they all have different remedial measures.
- Scratched up surface
Scratches are inevitable. The rate at which they develop will depend on the kind of traffic handled in the premises, as well as the strength of the finish coats that have been applied. A couple of scratches and dents on the surface may be ignored, but with time they become too many such that they drag down the decor of the rest of the space. It’s not just the aesthetics that are on the line. Scratches on the floor increase the risks of water damage, especially for deep scratches. This is because they provide direct entryways of moisture into the bare wood. When you’re faced with an excessively scratched surface, the only recourse is to carry out a complete floor sanding and even out the surface. If there are gaps on the floor, these will need to be resolved before the new finish coats are applied.
- Splinter troubles
Splinters on the floor are an actual safety issue. They can easily cause injuries to persons walking around. The presence of splinters points to the wood floor getting worn over time. For instance, when the protective finish wears down, the wood becomes more susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Even when excess water is used during the routine cleaning processes, the wood can swell, causing the board edges to crush together and splinters to form at the edges. Improper measures during the installation or finishing processes can also cause rapid wear and splintering. With splinters, trying to “pull them up” from the floor can result in you yanking out a significant chunk of the affected board – which is not how you want things to play out.
When the time comes to have your floor worked on will you take on the task yourself or hire a professional contractor? Going the DIY route comes with its set of hurdles. When getting the equipment, the common option is hiring it from dealership stores. This floor sanding gear has been through the hands of multiple users, with varying skill levels, some of whom end up damaging the equipment, reducing its performance. Also, in a bid to make the equipment more affordable for people to borrow and light enough to be transported, the dealerships stock lower capacity machinery – which means that the floor sanding will end up taking far much longer than had been anticipated. The kind of industrial-grade floor sanding machinery that the professionals use is heavy-duty and comes with an expensive price tag, and is not readily available for rent.
Mistakes are also a concern. Failing to properly sand the surface, and leaving patches of old finish on the floor, will prevent the new coats that are to be applied from properly bonding with the surface. On the other hand, if you go too slowly and end up sanding away too much off the surface, then this reduces the number of times that the floor can be successfully restored in future. What of how the machinery is handled? For instance, when using a random orbital sander, how you start the machine matters. Turning it on before placing it on the surface can cause it to gouge out the floor. It’s a simple oversight that will be frustrating to resolve. On the other hand, pushing it too hard when manoeuvring it on the floor increases the wear on the machine. Even moving it too fast on the surface risks swirl marks forming. Oversights like ignoring those nail or screw heads sticking out of the floor will cause the belt sander to get damaged.
Turning to the professionals means that you will be able to skip the frustrations that are involved with the process, and also wind up with quality results. They will also get the task done within a shorter time compared to a DIYer, minimising the disruption in your premises.