Does your home feature once-beautiful hardwood floors that just need a little love?Or maybe you're hoping for a different finish or entirely different look?

Re-finishing or painting hardwood floors are great options for giving your space and the flooring some new life, but there are things to consider before starting either project:

Re-finishing floors

1. Remove all furniture from the space
As great as it would be to be able to complete the project while just moving the furniture or storage around, unfortunately you will need a blank canvas to work with.

2. Complete any repairs
New finish and especially paint will make any damage or spaces between the boards much more obvious. Make sure you've inspected the flooring and allow for repair time before getting the project under way.

3. Clean the floor
In order for a new finish to adhere to an existing finish, any floor polish or wax on the existing finish must first be removed- as well as dirt, grime, grease, dust or soap film. 

It's important to not clean the floor with hot, soapy water or harsh chemicals. Excess water can cause the wood to swell, the soap may leave a residue, and harsh chemicals can cause damage the finish. Make sure to use a hardwood floor cleaner designed to dissolve contaminants with dissolving the existing finish. Once clean, wipe the floor with a soft, dry cloth and allow the floor to dry. (You can use a fan to speed up the process.)

4. Gently scuff away the original finish
Since neither water-based nor oil-based finishes can form a chemical bond with a previous layer of smooth finish, use either a floor polisher or hand polisher with a synthetic pad, or an orbital sander with 180-grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the surface of the existing finish. Once the floor is scuffed, vacuum the dust to make sure none gets stuck under the new finish.

5. Apply new finish
Regardless of the type of finish you apply, remember that there is a difference between “dry time” and “cure time.” A finish may dry in a matter of minutes, but it will not achieve its maximum hardness until it has had time to cure, which can take approximately one week. Once dry, you can walk on the floor in stocking feet, but keep shoes and pets off it for an additional day. If possible, wait three days before bringing in rugs and furniture.


Painting floors

This project also requires some planning but not as much as re-finishing the floors.

1. Prepare the space
Again, you’ll need to move all the furniture out of the area, and make sure you can either sleep out of the house for a few days or completely air the house out during and after you've painted. Also keep in mind that it is better to complete this project when it is less likely to be humid. Extreme humidity may keep the paint tacky even after it has dried.

2. Pick your paint
For best results, find a standard oil-based porch and floor paint or oil-based enamel as they’ll stand up to foot traffic better than any other paint. 

No matter which type of paint you choose (some types will have less fumes but will be less durable), consider wearing a face mask or respirator, and don't paint without having the windows open and ceiling fans running the whole time.

3. Prepare the floor
Use a square pad sander (or you can do it by hand) with 150-grit sandpaper to rough up the finish on the floor- just enough to remove the gloss from the finish. Once sanded, vacuum the dust and use a damp mop to do a final clean. Allow the floors to dry completely before proceeding.

4. First coat of paint
Using a brush or roller, apply a thin first coat of paint. A brush can give a smoother finish but using a roller will get the project done a little faster. Start around the outer edges with a brush and work your way towards the door with either a brush or roller. Allow this layer of paint to dry for 24-48 hours.

Once dry, lightly go over the floor with 220-grit sand paper to create a sleek surface, then vacuum the floor to remove the dust.

5. Second coat of paint
Apply a second coat of paint in the same way the first coat was applied. If necessary, apply a third coat and follow the same instructions. Within a few days, the floor will be ready to walk on but will take a few weeks before the paint is fully cured and the scent dissipates.

6. Seal the floor
If you've painted the floor in a high-traffic area, you can coat the finished floors with a clear polyurethane to protect the paint job.

how-to-paint-prefinished-hardwood-floors-reveal-cleverlyinspired-4_thumb Photo: Cleverly Inspired

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