The vacuum attachments included in most power sanders will suck up the majority of the sawdust generated by the refinishing process. However, it is still important to sweep and/or vacuum the room thoroughly before proceeding.
Afterward, a tack cloth, which is much like a cheesecloth, can be dampened slightly and run along the floors and walls. Don’t let any water pool, and avoid inundating the wood with liquid. If necessary, use several of these so that you can get every speck of debris clear before you move on to the next step.
Stain: This is an optional process that involves brushing a coat or two of a liquid material onto the wood, which will slightly change the color of the material, enhancing it and bringing out the natural features of the surface. There are a number of stains available ranging from dark browns and cherry reds up to golden hues.
Paint: In some cases, you may choose to paint your refinished hardwood flooring. This will completely remove the look of the wood, replacing it with whatever color that you choose.
Once the wood is sanded down it will be completely vulnerable to stains, damage, gouges, and scratches. That means that you need to apply a treatment that can help to protect it from further damage, so you can maintain the brand-new look of the surface for as long as possible. Some products can also enhance the appearance of the flooring itself.
Polyurethane: This is the best and most widely used protective coating. A clear almost plastic-like substance, it is applied with a standard paintbrush and is available in a variety of finishes from matte to glossy. Its purpose is to create a clear, protective layer over the top of the wood, which is resistant to liquids, stains, and scratching damage. Note: Polyurethane is a toxic substance and should only be applied in well-ventilated areas with the proper eye, hand, and breathing equipment. It will also require at least 24 hours to fully dry before the floor can be used again.
Varnish: This is similar to polyurethane, except that it has a more dramatic effect on the wood, darkening it noticeably. The advantage of this substance is that it is thinner, so spot repairs can be more easily made when future damage occurs.
Sealer: This is a thin, protective liquid that goes over hardwood, both seeping into the pores of the material and creating a clear surface coating over its top. It has very little effect on the look of the floor, but it also provides the least protection and may need to be reapplied every six to 12 months depending on traffic use.
All of these substances should be applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions and need to be brushed on in very thin, even lines. Allowing the finish to bubble, pool, or sit in standing areas can cause permanent damage to the material.
Make sure that whatever you use is applied in a thin, even coat, with no puddles or drips to affect the finished look. If necessary, these finishes can be sanded down then reapplied in areas to create a matched appearance.
Often several coats will be used to enhance the changing effect and the protective benefits of the treatment. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions about drying time and the maximum number of recommended applications.