Common Mistakes DIY-ers Make When Refinishing Hardwood Floors

The age of Google and YouTube has brought the exponential rise of the DIY-er. The internet has instructions for doing almost anything, from growing a garden to building a rocket launcher. But the fact remains that not all jobs are well-suited to completion by a novice. Refinishing a hard wood floor is just such a job. It is so tempting to try this job at home. What is so hard about sanding off an existing finish and applying a new finish? Easy, right? Wrong. Here is just a sampling of the problems DIY-ers encounter when they opt to refinish hardwood floors:

  • Wrong Equipment Sanding the old finish completely off of an existing floor is a lot of work. It takes professionals who use professional-grade equipment significant time to complete the sanding process. This job cannot be done well by hand. Professional-grade sanding machines are not available to rent, so DIY-ers use low-power machines that take longer and are more prone to denting and chattering.
  • Additionally, professionals use low-grit sandpaper to get the finish off. These papers are not available at local home goods stores. DIY-ers use higher-grit papers, which quickly clog with finish. A low-powered sander with ineffective sandpaper leads to frustration, potentially damages the floor, and regularly results in incomplete finish removal.
  • Bad Surface A beautiful floor starts with a smooth, clean surface. DIY sanders have a difficult time achieving the desired surface. Even the smallest sanding discrepancies will show after the finish is applied, even if they were not noticeable before. Dents, chatter, and divots are common in DIY-sanded floors. It is also common for old finish to be left behind. Low-power sanders with ineffective sandpaper can leave significant amounts of finish behind. These spots will be highly visible in the finished floor, as finish responds differently to bare wood than it does when applied over existing finish.
  • Poor Finish Applying the finish is also a difficult task. Hardwood finishes are either oil based or water based. Water-based urethane finishes are the best finishes on the market today, but they are not available for DIY-ers to purchase and dry too fast for a nonprofessional to successfully apply. This leaves only the option of oil-based finishes. These finishes are beautiful, but not as durable as the water-based urethanes. Oil-based finishes are dangerous if not handled properly, and they require excellent ventilation.