Hardwood floors are timeless in their elegance, and they bring warmth and coziness to any home or office, while also adding value to a property. With proper care and maintenance, they can stay in shape for decades, becoming even more elegant as they age. However, hardwood floors are not indestructible, and over time, they can lose their shine and become dull.
Heavy daily foot traffic, pets and small children, sudden or frequent changes in temperature, spills and stains, dust and debris – all of these things can damage hardwood floors over time. When this happens, it’s important to take the necessary steps to bring hardwood floors back to life, back to their former glory, and protect them from further damage. This is the only way to ensure their integrity and durability for the long haul. So, where do you start?
Assess the condition of the hardwood floor
First thing’s first: before doing any work on hardwood floors in need of a refresh, you need to assess the damage. Just how damaged are the floors, and are they even salvageable? If there is significant damage, such as buckling or warping, if there is heavy water damage and rotting of the wood, or if there are deep cracks and scratches, it might be easier and even necessary to replace some of the planks, or the entire flooring.
But if what you’re dealing with are some minor surface scratches, stains, discoloration, or dullness, then your hardwood floors still have a lot of life left in them. Inspect the flooring thoroughly, making note of any signs of damage, and figure out what tools or materials you’ll need to bring life back into the hardwood. If you’re not sure whether the wood can be saved, or what kinds of tools you should get, then you’d be better off asking the advice of a flooring professional. Some floors might require extensive repair work and professional expertise, in which case you might want to avoid the DIY route.
Give the floors a proper cleaning
The next step is to give the hardwood floors a proper, thorough cleaning. You’ll want to start with cleaning the space or the room where the floors are installed, and clean the hardwood flooring last, to avoid dust or debris to settle on the floor. Cleaning the hardwood floors is not rocket science, as long as you use the right products, otherwise you might end up damaging the wood even further. Use cleaning products and solutions specifically designed for hardwood flooring, vacuum gently or use a soft broom, followed by a damp, almost dry mop. Water is hardwood’s biggest enemy, so you want to avoid washing the floors with a lot of water, because it can infiltrate deep within the wood planks and cause them to slowly rot from the inside over time.
Sanding and repairing come next
Sanding is the next step in the restoration process, and a crucial one at that. By sanding the hardwood floors, you make sure that the old, worn-out finish is removed, and that the floor surface is even. Sanding can also eliminate scratches, dents, debris, providing a smooth and even surface to work with. You can begin with a coarse-grit sander to remove the current finish and reveal the fresh, natural wood below, and then move to medium-grit and fine-grit. A crucial tip is to always follow the direction of the wood, to avoid scratching it and causing damage, and consequently thinning out the wood planks. Also, make sure that you don’t press too hard and that you wear protective gear to keep dust and debris away.
If, during the sanding process, you discover small gaps, holes, or other issues that need to be fixed, use a quality wood filler in the same color of the floors, and allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Stain and polish the hardwood flooring
Next comes the staining and polishing phase of the restoration process. If you want to keep the natural color of the hardwood floors, you can skip the staining process or use a transparent, neutral finish to protect the floors. If you’re looking to darken the hardwood floors or remove the red hues from the planks, depending on your preference, you can pick a product that can do that for you, like Bona Red Out.
After that, you’ll want to apply a fresh coat of polish to bring back the shine to your hardwood floors, while also keeping them protected from damage. Ensure that the floors are clean and dry before taking this step, and apply one or two layers of polish to keep the hardwood protected from heavy traffic, dust, debris, pets and children, sunlight, and so on. Over time, once the finish starts to lose its shine, look dull and discolored, you can do it all over again to extend the lifespan of your hardwood flooring.
If you’re not willing to spend the time and effort to restore or revitalize your hardwood floors on your own, or you’re not sure how to do it right and what tools and materials to use, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. At First Atlanta Flooring, we have a team of dedicated professionals with years of experience in all things related to hardwood flooring. If you have questions or inquiries about our products and services, contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.