Hardwood floors can be a beautiful addition to any room. As with any type of floor covering, hardwood flooring wears and can become dull and unattractive. The good news is that dull floors can be easily transformed to their original luster at minimal cost and a little elbow grease. If your hardwood floor is in good condition, meaning the boards are not cupping or warping and there are no major defects, they can be returned to their original surface appearance by simply sanding the floor and re-applying a few coats of finish. The process of resurfacing your hardwood floor is called “screening”.
You will use Norton Screen-Bak mesh abrasive screen to prepare the floor for new coats of finish. There are two machines that perform the screening process, a buffer/maintainer machine (see picture 1) and an orbital sander (picture 2). The buffer/maintainer machine uses a screen disc and will perform the surface preparation quicker than the orbital, but it takes some skill to operate and may not be for everyone. The orbital sander works like a large palm sander and can be operated by most anyone without incident. Always follow machine manufacturer's instructions. Orbital sanders normally take a 12” x 18” screen sheet along with a white non-woven driver pad .
To get started you must go to your local hardware store or rental yard to get your machine. Once you have decided on which machine to use, you will need to purchase abrasives. For the buffer/maintainer machine you will need a 120 grit screen disc along with a thick white nylon pad. The machine should come with an attachment, known as a driver plate, which will allow the white pad to be applied to the machine. Be sure to know the square footage of the floor you will be sanding. That will help the people at the rental counter to know how much abrasive to sell you.
Before you begin sanding, make sure you have proper ventilation and that any areas you do not want sawdust to go are properly sealed with plastic and masking tape. This sanding process will cause a fair amount of dust that can be difficult to clean up. Also make sure you have the proper safety items. You should always wear a disposable dust mask, eye protection and hearing protection .
To begin sanding with the buffer/maintainer make sure the driver plate is properly installed as per manufacturer directions. Place the screen disc on the floor along with the white driver pad directly on top of the screen disc. Carefully place the buffer/maintainer machine on top of the white pad making sure the driver plate is centered with the white driver pad. Begin sanding by squeezing the trigger handles on the handle of the machine. On most buffer/maintainers both triggers must be squeezed before the machine will begin. To keep the machine under control you must lift up or push down on the handle to make the machine move from side to side. Lifting up on the handle will move the machine to the right and pushing down will move the machine to the left. Be sure not to push of lift too much too fast because the machine will move very quickly. If the machine gets out of control let go of the triggers immediately and the machine will stop automatically. Once you have gotten the hang of sanding with this machine sand the entire floor so that you have removed the entire original polyurethane. Once complete you should have smooth raw wood looking surface.
To begin sanding with the orbital machine, place the screen sheet on the floor along with the white nylon 12” x 18” pad on top of the screen. Again place the orbital machine directly on the white pad making sure the machine is centered on the pad. Start up the machine and sand the entire floor so that you have removed the entire original polyurethane. Once complete you should have smooth raw wood looking surface.
Once you have completed the sanding process it is time to remove the sawdust from the floor and begin applying the finish. To properly remove the sawdust first thoroughly sweep the floor. Then vacuum the floor using a standard shopvac. Be sure not to make any marks on the floor with the nozzle of the shopvac. The final step to removing all of the sawdust is to tack it. To tack the floor you would use a Norton Tack Cloth. Open the tack cloth all the way and place on the bottom of a broom or mop. Be sure to keep an eye on the tack cloth to make sure it is not completely full of dust or it will not work effectively. Now that the floor is completely dust free, it is time to apply your finish. Apply the first coat of finish carefully following the manufacturers directions and specifications.
If your floor feels rough after the first coat of finish, don’t be alarmed. That is the grain fibers raising because of the finish. You will need to sand after each coat of finish to properly smooth out the surface. To smooth the surface use one of the screens you used to sand the floor. This screen will not be as aggressive as a new screen and less likely to remove too much of the finish. Lightly sand the surface to remove the roughness and prep the surface for the next coat of finish. Repeat this until you have applied three coats of polyurethane finish. After the third coat of finish you do not want to use a screen on the floor. To complete the job, simply place a new white nylon pad on the sander and run the machine until the floor reaches it’s peak shine.
This will complete the floor re-sanding process and should leave your hardwood floor looking brand new.
Buffer / Maintainer or Obital Sander Machine
Norton Screen-Bak Mesh Abrasive
White Nylon Pad
Norton Project Planning Form