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Wood Floor Sanding, Refinishing & Installations in Vermont

By Blog Owner 19 Oct, 2015

We’re not going out on a limb when we say hardwood floors are one of the most popular, value-adding features in your home. Homebuyers love ‘em.

But hardwood floors need regular maintenance and refinishing to keep them looking spiffy.

How much wear and tear your floors get determines how often you need to refinish them and what product you use. A household with just two adults might only have to refinish every 10 years; a home with adults, kids, and a dog might need to refinish every three to four years.

There are a lot of finishes out there. Use our at-a-glance guide below to choose the one that’s right for your home. We also help you decide if you want to refinish floors yourself .

Wax

Pros Cons
Easy to apply  Not as durable as poly finishes
Low luster  Susceptible to stains
Penetrates into wood.      
 Needs regular upkeep (refinishing)
Mild odor  Must be completely removed before applying a polyurethane finish


Wax is the time-tested, old-fashioned way to refinish wood floors and was routinely used before polyurethanes became available in the 1970s. Both paste and liquid versions are making a comeback with homeowners who want a mellow, low-sheen look, and with those who prefer to use natural products with low VOCs and toxicity.

It’s applied by hand working small areas at a time, which makes it DIY-friendly (but labor-intensive). It’s also easy to touch up a wax finish, so ongoing maintenance is simple.

If you don’t want to darken your wood (which wax tends to do), first apply a base coat of shellac or sanding sealer that penetrates and seals the wood. Two to three coats of wax are recommended.

Especially good for: antique flooring in historic homes

Cost: $10 to $25 per 1 pound covers 400 to 500 square feet

Water-Based Polyurethane

Pros
     Cons
Fast drying time (2 to 4 hours between coats)      More expensive than oil poly
Low odor; low VOCs
     Less tough than oil poly
Doesn’t yellow like oil polys  
Easy to apply; good for DIYers  


Polyurethanes are today’s standard floor finish. Water-based varieties used to have a reputation for being eco-friendly (still true) but not as durable as regular polys. However, today’s water-based polys are nearly as tough as their oil-based cousins.

One difference is final color: Water-based polys dry clear; oil-based polys have a slight amber tint.

Water-based polyurethane has very low VOC content and is easy for a DIYer to apply. Three to four coats are recommended. You can use a water-based polyurethane over an oil-based poly as long as the old finish has completely cured (two to three weeks).

Especially good for: eco-conscious DIYers

Cost: $40 to $60 per gallon covers 400 to 500 square feet

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Pros Cons
Less expensive than water-based poly       
Long drying time (8 to 10 hours between coats)
Extremely tough High odor during application; high VOCs
Easy to apply Gets yellow with age (benefit to some)


Oil-based polys are the mainstay of floor finishing and widely used by professional finishers.

Although they’re tough, long-lasting, and less-expensive than water-based polys, oil-based polys have a higher VOC content and stronger odor during application. A coat takes 8 to 10 hours to dry, so you’ll want to vacate your house until the floor is completely dry — and bring your pets with you. Two to three coats are recommended.

Professional floor refinishers report some problems when using an oil-based poly over a water-based poly. Best advice: Don’t do it.

Especially good for: professionally finished floors at a reasonable price

Cost: $30 to $40 per gallon covers 500 to 600 square feet; it’s $1 to $2 per square foot to have a pro do it.

Acid-Cured (Swedish) Finish

Pros      Cons
Extremely hard and durable      Difficult to refinish (must use acid-cured finish if used previously)
Fast drying time (2 hours) but up to 60 days to fully cure      Volatile odors; high VOCs
More expensive than most finishes      Pro-only application


The Cadillac (or Volvo) of floor finishes, acid-cured Swedish finishes are for pro application only. They’re among the toughest of all hardwood flooring finishes, and the most expensive. They’re sometimes called conversion varnish sealers.

Acid-cured finishes have extremely high VOC content; you’ll have to bunk elsewhere for a few days after finishing to give the odors a chance to clear. The finish takes up to 60 days to fully cure, but you can walk on it after three days. Keep furniture off for two weeks, and rugs off for the full 60 days so the fibers don’t stick.

Especially good for: high-end homes with flooring made from exotic woods and floors with elaborate inlay designs

Cost: $3.75 to $5 per square foot professionally applied

Moisture-Cured Urethane

Pros
        Cons
Extremely durable (one of the hardest)         Extremely high VOCs (fumes may last for weeks)
Expensive         Pro-only application
Fast drying time allows for multiple coats per day         Low humidity extends drying time


This is a durable finish that’s a step up in toughness and longevity from water- and oil-based polyurethane. It’s tricky to apply and isn’t recommended for DIY — it dries very fast, so speed and a deft touch are needed to avoid lap marks.

It has a high VOC content, making a respirator and good ventilation a must during application. Homeowners and pets should vacate the house during application and for up to two weeks afterward.

Especially good for: high-traffic areas and homes with multiple kids and dogs

Cost: $2 to $4 per square foot professionally applied

Penetrating Oil Sealer

Pros         Cons
Easy for DIYers to apply         Not as durable as a poly finish
Non-toxic ingredients         Should be reapplied every 2 to 3 years
Mild odor  
Mellow sheen  


Oil sealers have been used for centuries to protect and moisture-proof wood. They’re easy to apply, and spot touch-ups are a snap. Because it penetrates the wood, an oil sealer enhances grain patterns and deepens the color of the wood. The finish itself doesn’t scratch, but recoating usually is needed every two to three years as the finish wears down.

The basic ingredient is tung oil, a naturally occurring, low-VOC oil that hardens as it dries. It needs long drying times between coats (24 to 48 hours), so finishing a floor with the recommended three coats can take several days.

Especially good for: historic homes with antique flooring; DIYers

Cost: $60 to $70 per gallon covers 500 square feet

Aluminum Oxide

Pros         Cons
Extermely hard and durable (25 years)         Only available with prefinished flooring
          Difficult to refinish
          After 25 years, you might have to replace the flooring


This super-tough finish only comes on prefinished wood planks. You won’t apply it yourself, but you’ll need to know it’s there if you ever decide to refinish it. It requires special refinishing techniques, like sanding with milder grits before using heavier grits. Your floor refinisher can determine if your flooring is covered with an aluminum oxide coating.

Shellac

Pros         Cons
Easy to work with         Not very durable
Few harmful VOCs         Most shellac contains wax — refinishing with modern products isn’t possible
Inexpensive         Must be recoated periodically
Easy spot repairs  


Polyurethane floor products have surpassed the usefulness of this time-honored wood finish. Houses built before 1970 may have hardwood floors finished with shellac, and you can maintain and refinish them with another coating of shellac. It’s not compatible with more modern finishes, such as polyurethane, so only refinish shellac with wax or another coating of shellac.

Test for shellac by dribbling a few drops of water on an inconspicuous spot. If the finish turns milky white, it’s shellac.

Shellac is a natural product that’s non-toxic and produces few VOCs. It’s not as tough and durable as polyurethanes, and is susceptible to stains from water and other spills. However, it’s easy to repair scratched areas by rubbing out the scratches with denatured alcohol, then reapplying shellac.

Shellac pairs well with wax. Use shellac as a base coat, and finish with two or three coats of hand-rubbed wax.

Especially good for: refinishing antique floors already coated with shellac

Cost: $80 to $90 per gallon covers 300 square feet

Two Options for Refinishing

Does your floor need a touch-up or an overhaul?

1. For surface scratches and normal wear and tear, lightly sand the finish (called screening) and apply a new topcoat. You’ll want to use the same type of finish product that was on your flooring originally.

2. For more damaged flooring, you’ll want to completely sand the old finish off down to the bare wood. Once you’ve done that, you can apply any finish.


By Blog Owner 10 Sep, 2015
Cut hardwood-floor cleaning time with smart preventive maintenance. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In snowy or rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water and de-icers.

Prevent marks by using floor protectors under furniture and by using rugs in play areas to ensure children's toys don't scratch the floor.

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren't completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor's finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish -- common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes . If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.

Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.

Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don't work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you're done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.

Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.


http://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/surface/how-to-clean-hardwood-floors/
By Blog Owner 19 Oct, 2015

We’re not going out on a limb when we say hardwood floors are one of the most popular, value-adding features in your home. Homebuyers love ‘em.

But hardwood floors need regular maintenance and refinishing to keep them looking spiffy.

How much wear and tear your floors get determines how often you need to refinish them and what product you use. A household with just two adults might only have to refinish every 10 years; a home with adults, kids, and a dog might need to refinish every three to four years.

There are a lot of finishes out there. Use our at-a-glance guide below to choose the one that’s right for your home. We also help you decide if you want to refinish floors yourself .

Wax

Pros Cons
Easy to apply  Not as durable as poly finishes
Low luster  Susceptible to stains
Penetrates into wood.      
 Needs regular upkeep (refinishing)
Mild odor  Must be completely removed before applying a polyurethane finish


Wax is the time-tested, old-fashioned way to refinish wood floors and was routinely used before polyurethanes became available in the 1970s. Both paste and liquid versions are making a comeback with homeowners who want a mellow, low-sheen look, and with those who prefer to use natural products with low VOCs and toxicity.

It’s applied by hand working small areas at a time, which makes it DIY-friendly (but labor-intensive). It’s also easy to touch up a wax finish, so ongoing maintenance is simple.

If you don’t want to darken your wood (which wax tends to do), first apply a base coat of shellac or sanding sealer that penetrates and seals the wood. Two to three coats of wax are recommended.

Especially good for: antique flooring in historic homes

Cost: $10 to $25 per 1 pound covers 400 to 500 square feet

Water-Based Polyurethane

Pros
     Cons
Fast drying time (2 to 4 hours between coats)      More expensive than oil poly
Low odor; low VOCs
     Less tough than oil poly
Doesn’t yellow like oil polys  
Easy to apply; good for DIYers  


Polyurethanes are today’s standard floor finish. Water-based varieties used to have a reputation for being eco-friendly (still true) but not as durable as regular polys. However, today’s water-based polys are nearly as tough as their oil-based cousins.

One difference is final color: Water-based polys dry clear; oil-based polys have a slight amber tint.

Water-based polyurethane has very low VOC content and is easy for a DIYer to apply. Three to four coats are recommended. You can use a water-based polyurethane over an oil-based poly as long as the old finish has completely cured (two to three weeks).

Especially good for: eco-conscious DIYers

Cost: $40 to $60 per gallon covers 400 to 500 square feet

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Pros Cons
Less expensive than water-based poly       
Long drying time (8 to 10 hours between coats)
Extremely tough High odor during application; high VOCs
Easy to apply Gets yellow with age (benefit to some)


Oil-based polys are the mainstay of floor finishing and widely used by professional finishers.

Although they’re tough, long-lasting, and less-expensive than water-based polys, oil-based polys have a higher VOC content and stronger odor during application. A coat takes 8 to 10 hours to dry, so you’ll want to vacate your house until the floor is completely dry — and bring your pets with you. Two to three coats are recommended.

Professional floor refinishers report some problems when using an oil-based poly over a water-based poly. Best advice: Don’t do it.

Especially good for: professionally finished floors at a reasonable price

Cost: $30 to $40 per gallon covers 500 to 600 square feet; it’s $1 to $2 per square foot to have a pro do it.

Acid-Cured (Swedish) Finish

Pros      Cons
Extremely hard and durable      Difficult to refinish (must use acid-cured finish if used previously)
Fast drying time (2 hours) but up to 60 days to fully cure      Volatile odors; high VOCs
More expensive than most finishes      Pro-only application


The Cadillac (or Volvo) of floor finishes, acid-cured Swedish finishes are for pro application only. They’re among the toughest of all hardwood flooring finishes, and the most expensive. They’re sometimes called conversion varnish sealers.

Acid-cured finishes have extremely high VOC content; you’ll have to bunk elsewhere for a few days after finishing to give the odors a chance to clear. The finish takes up to 60 days to fully cure, but you can walk on it after three days. Keep furniture off for two weeks, and rugs off for the full 60 days so the fibers don’t stick.

Especially good for: high-end homes with flooring made from exotic woods and floors with elaborate inlay designs

Cost: $3.75 to $5 per square foot professionally applied

Moisture-Cured Urethane

Pros
        Cons
Extremely durable (one of the hardest)         Extremely high VOCs (fumes may last for weeks)
Expensive         Pro-only application
Fast drying time allows for multiple coats per day         Low humidity extends drying time


This is a durable finish that’s a step up in toughness and longevity from water- and oil-based polyurethane. It’s tricky to apply and isn’t recommended for DIY — it dries very fast, so speed and a deft touch are needed to avoid lap marks.

It has a high VOC content, making a respirator and good ventilation a must during application. Homeowners and pets should vacate the house during application and for up to two weeks afterward.

Especially good for: high-traffic areas and homes with multiple kids and dogs

Cost: $2 to $4 per square foot professionally applied

Penetrating Oil Sealer

Pros         Cons
Easy for DIYers to apply         Not as durable as a poly finish
Non-toxic ingredients         Should be reapplied every 2 to 3 years
Mild odor  
Mellow sheen  


Oil sealers have been used for centuries to protect and moisture-proof wood. They’re easy to apply, and spot touch-ups are a snap. Because it penetrates the wood, an oil sealer enhances grain patterns and deepens the color of the wood. The finish itself doesn’t scratch, but recoating usually is needed every two to three years as the finish wears down.

The basic ingredient is tung oil, a naturally occurring, low-VOC oil that hardens as it dries. It needs long drying times between coats (24 to 48 hours), so finishing a floor with the recommended three coats can take several days.

Especially good for: historic homes with antique flooring; DIYers

Cost: $60 to $70 per gallon covers 500 square feet

Aluminum Oxide

Pros         Cons
Extermely hard and durable (25 years)         Only available with prefinished flooring
          Difficult to refinish
          After 25 years, you might have to replace the flooring


This super-tough finish only comes on prefinished wood planks. You won’t apply it yourself, but you’ll need to know it’s there if you ever decide to refinish it. It requires special refinishing techniques, like sanding with milder grits before using heavier grits. Your floor refinisher can determine if your flooring is covered with an aluminum oxide coating.

Shellac

Pros         Cons
Easy to work with         Not very durable
Few harmful VOCs         Most shellac contains wax — refinishing with modern products isn’t possible
Inexpensive         Must be recoated periodically
Easy spot repairs  


Polyurethane floor products have surpassed the usefulness of this time-honored wood finish. Houses built before 1970 may have hardwood floors finished with shellac, and you can maintain and refinish them with another coating of shellac. It’s not compatible with more modern finishes, such as polyurethane, so only refinish shellac with wax or another coating of shellac.

Test for shellac by dribbling a few drops of water on an inconspicuous spot. If the finish turns milky white, it’s shellac.

Shellac is a natural product that’s non-toxic and produces few VOCs. It’s not as tough and durable as polyurethanes, and is susceptible to stains from water and other spills. However, it’s easy to repair scratched areas by rubbing out the scratches with denatured alcohol, then reapplying shellac.

Shellac pairs well with wax. Use shellac as a base coat, and finish with two or three coats of hand-rubbed wax.

Especially good for: refinishing antique floors already coated with shellac

Cost: $80 to $90 per gallon covers 300 square feet

Two Options for Refinishing

Does your floor need a touch-up or an overhaul?

1. For surface scratches and normal wear and tear, lightly sand the finish (called screening) and apply a new topcoat. You’ll want to use the same type of finish product that was on your flooring originally.

2. For more damaged flooring, you’ll want to completely sand the old finish off down to the bare wood. Once you’ve done that, you can apply any finish.


By Blog Owner 10 Sep, 2015
Cut hardwood-floor cleaning time with smart preventive maintenance. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In snowy or rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water and de-icers.

Prevent marks by using floor protectors under furniture and by using rugs in play areas to ensure children's toys don't scratch the floor.

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren't completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor's finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish -- common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes . If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.

Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.

Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don't work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you're done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.

Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.


http://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/surface/how-to-clean-hardwood-floors/
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