How to Refinish Hardwood Floors with Knots, Cracks, and Other Character Marks
Floor looking a little tired and wondering how to refinish hardwood floors back to life?
When you see a newly refinished hardwood floor, you may actually mistake it for a newly installed floor. In some cases, if you saw that same floor before the finishing process started, you might have thought it was more or less hopeless, thinking – just rip it up and replace it. It’s amazing what refinishing can do.
A good floor refinisher can work their magic on the wood during the sanding, staining, and finishing stages so that the end product looks almost flawless and the same tricks of the trade can be used when refinishing your worn hardwood floors.
How to Refinish Hardwood Floors while keeping Character in Mind
Wood is a natural product that often has small cracks, knots, and other surface imperfections. The mill usually culls out the worst defects, depending on the grade of your flooring, and some will probably make it through to your floor. Many of these are character marks that will give a floor its unique quality.
The most durable hardwood floors can eventually show the wear and tear of daily use – especially in a busy household. Fortunately, one of the benefits of using hardwood is that with a little bit of work, the floor can look just like new again and still keep its character. Solid hardwoods can normally be refinished several times and even engineered flooring with a hardwood veneer can usually be sanded and refinished at least once.
A question you need to ask yourself before starting the refinishing process is whether you want to maintain the character marks your floor have developed over time. Many homeowners like these types of small imperfections in their hardwood and even pay extra to have salvaged wood reclaimed from old homes and buildings then installed as their new floors.
Refinishing means sanding and the more you do the less you’ll see those character marks. If you want to keep as many as possible, just sand enough to remove the old finish so you’re staining fresh wood.
If you prefer a pristine hardwood floor, sand away until they disappear, keeping in mind the thickness of the wood. Extra caution should be taken when sanding engineered flooring’s thin veneer or you might soon have more than character marks showing through.
How to Refinish Hardwood Floors with Knots and Cracks
Some character marks aren’t going to be affected much by your sanding disks and may require a little special attention:
Unless you have an extremely high grade of flooring and even sometimes then, you are going to have knots in your hardwood – they are kind of like beauty marks for wood flooring. Medium and rustic grades of flooring have larger knots and it’s not unusual for them to loosen over time and possibly even come all the way out of the wood.
If you have loose knots, wood filler can often be used around the character marks to tighten them up and the new sealant applied during the refinishing process should hold it in place. A knot that is completely missing can be replaced by whittling a plug out of the same variety of wood for a small hole — boards with large missing knots should be replaced.
CRACKS & HOLES:
Temperature changes inside your home throughout the year and can combine with the drying of your hardwood flooring when it’s first installed to create cracks in your flooring. There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent them and fortunately most cracks are very small and unobtrusive.
Refinishing your hardwood provides the ideal opportunity for making them all but invisible by using a little wood filler. If you are planning on staining the floor after sanding, plain filler should suffice for the task.
A natural floor receiving only sealant should be filled with filler that matches the wood as much as possible. Wood fillers can shrink as they dry so two applications may be required and don’t forget to sand the repairs down before continuing with the refinishing.
Extensive damage to your hardwood such as large cracks or complete breaks could be repaired with pieces of wood or may be better off fixed by replacing the affected boards. While the floor is being refinished can be the perfect time.
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