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11 Dec. 2004

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Unless you plan to sand many floors in your lifetime, random orbital sanders are the best choice for do-it-yourself floor refinishers. A sealer coat is not normally needed, but if your floor takes stain unevenly, it will help ensure even stain coverage.
Many pros pour polyurethane along the floor and then spread it with an 18-inch lamb’s wool applicator, but for the novice this is likely to result in a layer that’s too thick. Of course, the color of the paneled walls is very distracting and detracts from the beautiful floors, so I want to paint those ASAP. The equipment rental and sandpaper came to $450 (about half of that cost was for sandpaper!!), and the Waterlox cost me $700. On the other hand, if you want really light-colored floors, you’ll almost certainly have to use a water-based finish. Waterlox would be more comparable to a polyurethane, in that both Waterlox and polyurethane are used as a clear finish to protect wood. Waterlox actually makes a cleaner that you can use to mop the floor, but just plain vinegar and water will work also. And don’t forget to check out my other post where I shared a few specific details and tips regarding sanding the floors. I didn’t fill any nail holes because one person who comments on a previous post said she liked the look of the nail holes on her floor, and regretted having her hubby fill most of the nail holes. If you can, let us know the type of wood flooring you have, and how many square feet you refinished. You may find that your wood floor has been sanded to many times in the past, and now is too thin to be sanded again.
This job was to refinish the floor area called the sanctuary and the choir stall floors, about 600 sq. I was the only flooring contractor who suggested the floors be chemically stripped instead. They take longer to remove old finishes than drum sanders, but they do not require a lot of experience to use and are less likely to damage your floor. I was beginning to think that this hardwood floor refinishing project would never be complete, like I was caught in some Groundhog Day-type loop of never ending sanding.
Throw in the extras, like a new natural bristle brush, a gallon of mineral spirits, etc., and the cost came to right at $1200.
The color you see is the natural color that the wood turns when you apply an oil-based finish.
In fact, the day before I applied the first coat of Waterlox, I actually wiped down then entire floor with mineral spirits, and they turned almost exactly that color with just mineral spirits.


The difference is that polyurethane is literally a plastic coating that sits on top of the wood.
We hope this information proves helpful to anyone needing to get a basic sense of how much something costs, and how much you can expect to pay to hire someone. Go over the whole floor and set all nails below the surface of the wood, but don't fill them. Wait about another 15 minutes and this time use a good quality filling knife to work the stripper without scratching the wood.
There will still be some residual stripper left and I do a final scrubbing of the floor with nylon rubbing pads.
When the floor is dry it should be quite a bit lighter in color unless it was previously stained. If the floor has darkened with age I sometimes apply a medium dark stain to the floor that helps even out the overall color. So wiping mineral spirits onto wood is actually a very good way to see what color it’ll turn once an oil-based finish is applied, so you can determine of you want or need to use stain or not.
Waterlox is a tung oil-based finish that actually penetrates into the wood, much like the oil finishes (tung oil, linseed oil, etc.) that have been used to protect wood for over 200 years.
This article will show you how to use safe, but effective chemicals, to refinish your wood floors. The organ pipes were right above this and if the floors were to be sanded and finished the pipes would have to be covered, at great cost.
My experience with woodwork stripping included doing about 4 months of work for a friend spaced over several years. You need to go through all the steps I am about to describe, including any staining and finishing of the sample area.
I soak the floor a small section at a time and scrub with a clean pad, turn over the pad and keep scrubbing until the area comes clean.
I soak the whole area I'm working on and roll out the towels to absorb the mineral spirits as they lay flat on the floor. To hire a pro to sand, seal, stain, and apply several finish coats of an oil-based poly will cost $4 per square foot, or more. Even covering the pipes would not assure their safety from the sanding dust, and the estimated cost for cleaning the would run into the many thousands of dollars. This is the proper tool for the job and it will not scratch the wood like an ordinary putty knife will. All this solvent may have raised the grain a bit giving the floor a rough hairy appearance.


Use odorless mineral spirits instead of regular paint thinner to remove Citristrip from the floor as this low odor varsol or naphtha (as it's also called) is a bit less toxic to breathe. I found that they had the least tendency to scratch the bare wood surface, even when working against the grain. These are abrasive enough to assist in the final removal but won't scratch the wood, and will absorb most of the remaining stripper.
You will know when all the goop is off the floor when your white paper towels come wet but clean. This can be easily removed with a gentle sanding by hand (try a drywall pole sander) or if you have a large area you can rent a floor buffer and with a 100 grit screen disk polish the surface smooth again. Had I skipped the satin finish, my cost would have been 60 cents per square foot, which would have been a $3,600 savings.
I don't touch the pad because I have a handle that has little knobbies that keep it in place while I scrub the floor vigorously with the grain of the wood.
And don't smoke or strike a match around this solvent laden floor, else you will have no floor and no house. These cost 15 or more USD and are worth every cent, even their walnut handles feel comfortable after hours of use.
By now you should be feeling the bare wood beneath your filling knife and not the slippery top of the left over finish. You will know by doing the test patch if you have to repeat this process and have some prediction as to the amount of stripper it will take to get to the bare wood. It's typical to use 6 rolls to mop up each 100 square feet of floor, so look for them on sale a couple of weeks before you do the job, and buy more than you think you need. As I was the only viable proposal, I won the contract to strip and finish the floor with 4 coats of polyurethane. For the average floor finish removal, a gallon of Citris Strip ® will do only about 100-sq. And as of this writing I have chemically stripped over 5,000 square feet of hardwood floor.



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