Hardwood Floor Refinishing

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Do-It-Yourself Hardwood Floors

Removing Hardwood Floor Stains

Dear NH,
I recently installed a hardwood floor in part of my home. My intent was to match it with the existing hardwood floors throughout. I used wood filler on the new floor and I really like the finish but the existing floors have been finished without wood filler. The finish is a water-based urethane that looks dull. Do I need to resand completely before using a wood filler and new finish or can I lightly sand with screens and a buffer. I am really not looking forward to the work and mess of a major floor-refinishing job. But I want the old floor to look more like the new part. I was advised to not use a filler when I refinished the old floors 4 years ago, now I regret heeding that advise. Any suggestions?
WP from Evansville, IN

Water-based urethane will stick to most old work (and itself) as long as the surface is clean, thoroughly dulled and totally free of grease or wax. Urethane can be recoated many times before stripping is necessary. I suggest you check your manufacturer's label to see what their recommendations are.

I can't see any reason why you couldn't use the filler prior to refinishing the old areas. There is the slight chance that it may lift out in spots (it would stick better to raw wood) but I think overall the effect will be worth the risk. Do the filling after the first sanding of the old floor. Then resand to level the filler to the floor and stain, followed by the urethane (again, according to manufacturer's directions).

One option that is usually not discussed in floor refinishing is the use of a chemical deglosser, such as Wilbond, on urethane. I have found it to be very effective in dulling many types of finishes. However, the problem with using it on floors is the buildup of vapors in the room. Forced ventilation is essential and all sources of sparks must be eliminated for safety reasons. You could experiment and see if this product might hold some value for you in this job... specifically in preparing the floor for filling. Test on a small area... if you find significant dulling you might want to use some Wilbond prior to filling. One thing to be aware of is that Wilbond can remove finishes that are very fresh.

For sanding purposes, renting a commercial floor machine with screen pads will make fast work of this job. Use a grit of 100-150, starting with the 150 to see if you get an adequately dull floor. This isn't progressive sanding... from rough to fine grit... this is simply to dull the finish. The old floor finish must be totally dull or you may have adhesion problems, so be thorough. Use a sanding block to get into corners the circular pads can't reach.

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