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Hardwood floors add a special kind of beauty to any home and keeping them in tiptop shape may be easier than you think. If you have hardwood floors that you have covered with carpet due to scratches and stains these tips will help to you restore them to shimmering perfection. Begin by clearing the room of any furniture and sealing it off from the rest of the house with plastic sheeting. Since you will need to be working close to the wall you will need to remove all the shoe molding. If you have removed carpeting from the room or if the room was carpeted at any time in the past, remove all the carpet staples. Check the entire floor for loose or damaged floorboards and if you find any repair them. Check the nail heads in all the boards to be sure they are driven well below the surface and then fill the holes with wood putty. Vacuum the room thoroughly and then re-inspect the floor.
If the floor has been coated with clear finish you will need to strip it with a sander before you begin refinishing. Drum type floor sanders and hand held disc sanders can be rented for your local rental store. If you are unsure of how to use the sanders, ask the clerk to give you a demonstration so you will not have to guess. Using 36 grit sandpaper, sand the floor with the drum sander. To do this you should raise the drum off the floor, turn on the power and then lower the drum carefully onto the floor. Be sure to keep a firm grip on the handles and work across your floor with the grain. When you have finished a length, return to the beginning and strip the next section parallel to and slightly overlapping the first section. When the entire floor is stripped, use the hand sander with 36 grit sandpaper to sand along the walls. Repeat the entire sanding process two more times using 80 grit sandpaper the first time and 100 grit sandpaper the second time. Strip the corners with a scraper and then sand by hand at the ends of the room to remove the marks where the sander stripped across the grain. Between each sanding you will need to vacuum the floor thoroughly before proceeding to the next stage.
To remove any dust, wipe the entire floor with a tack cloth. A tack cloth is a sticky rag for picking up particles when finishing wood. It can be purchased at a local hardware store or you can make one using a 24 inch square of clean, lint free cotton saturated in warm water and thoroughly wringing it out. Moisten the cloth with turpentine and sprinkle it with about 2 tablespoons of varnish while you knead the fabric to make sure the varnish works in evenly. If this is done correctly the cloth should be slightly yellow and sticky. When the floor has been cleaned with the tack cloth apply a clear sealer or a stain. If you use a stain try to use one that you can combine with the sealer. Allow this to dry thoroughly and then buff the entire floor with fine steel wool. Vacuum the floor again and the apply polyurethane, shellac or varnish using a roller for the middle areas and a brush around the area closest to the walls. This will need to dry for no less than two days. After this time period you should buff the floor with steel wool and vacuum. Then apply two coats of paste wax and buff with a lamb’s wool buffing pad. Be sure you check the label of your polyurethanes to make sure your floor will need to be waxed. Some of these products do not require waxing. If you are using the no wax product you should wax only if you prefer a softer look. When the floor is completely dry reattach all the shoe moldings.
When your hard wood floor are not in need of refinishing but just have a few scratches that need to be touched up, you can do this by adding brown shoe polish to a liquid wax. Be sure you spot check when doing this to insure that the amount of brown shoe polish you have added will blend with the rest of your floor. Begin by waxing the scratched areas and allow them to dry thoroughly. If they need a second coat of wax to create the proper color, apply a second coat to the scratches. Then wax the entire floor area with the liquid wax and allow to dry. Apply two coats of paste wax allowing each to dry before applying the next and buff the floor to a sheen. To keep the shine on your hardwood floors use a dust mop to clean them instead of a broom or vacuum cleaner. Lightly spray the dust mop with furniture polish before you clean. This will cause the dust to cling to the mop and add more shine to your floor. Since waxed hardwood floors can be slippery when you put throw rugs around the room, you might consider purchasing a product to place beneath your rugs to hold them in place. A simple way to do this today is to purchase and inexpensive webbed rubber shelf lining and cut pieces that are smaller than the rugs to place beneath them. This will not mar your floor and the rubber shelf liners will not slip. They can also be easily cleaned when you clean your hardwood floor.