How to Revive Hardwood Floors

Kevin McDermott

Hardwood floors get dingy and discolored after years of use. It's usually not the hardwood itself that is affected, but the gloss layer of varnish or other clear finish that suffers wear and tear.

Seriously age-worn floors may require a full sanding down to bare wood and complete refinishing, which is a huge job and can be done just a few times to any given floor. An alternative is to screen off just the gloss and replace it, which revives the look of the surface without affecting the wood itself.

  1. Load the buffing machine with the roughest sanding screen, which will be the lowest grit level (60-grit). Run the machine over the floor, starting along one wall. Move it along the direction of the floorboards, back and forth, until the top layer of gloss is removed.

  2. Vacuum the dust. Repeat the screening process with each successively finer level of screen (meaning, each higher number of grit level). Vacuum between each screening. When done, the surface should look dull, flat and clean.

  3. Pour some of the polyurethane in one corner of the room, opposite the entrance. Set your gloss applicator (which looks like a cloth-covered push-broom) in the puddle of polyurethane. Spread the polyurethane across the floor, with the direction of the floorboards.

  4. Pour more polyurethane as needed. Gloss the whole floor. Let it dry overnight.

  5. Sand the floor with 220-grit sandpaper by hand, just enough to dull the shine off the gloss so the next layer of gloss will adhere. Vacuum the dust.

  6. Apply the second coat of polyurethane in the same manner as the first. Let it dry, sand it, vacuum, and apply a third layer. Let the third layer dry for two to three days and your hardwood floor revival should be complete.

  7. Warning

    Wear a dust mask when screening the floor.

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