Refinishing Hardwood Floors — carpet padding damage Ask MetaFilter

Refinishing Hardwood Floors - carpet padding damage Ask MetaFilter

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Inspired by a number of people moving into my neighborhood and talking about the gorgeous oak floors revealed when they lifted up the carpet, we decided to jump on the bandwagon and ditch the carpet. Besides, with having two puppies this year, it was beginning to get funky. When we tried, we found that the padding was almost disintegrated, powder in some spots, in others stuck to the floor, and not with adhesive. No amount of mineral spirits and elbow grease was making that stuff budge. Also, there are black spots from when we must have missed a puppy accident. In other words, it looks like crap. Google gives me conflicting reports about the salvagability of the floor — some say a good sanding and maybe some bleach will take care of the dark spots, others say the boards will need to be replaced. Any first hand experience with this one? I know refinishing is a must, but will it be worth the effort?

Some of my relatives had this done a year ago, but not to the extent of having planks replaced. Sanding and bleaching will never completely remove the dark spots, as those are permanent stains which the wood absorbed over time. For the most part, the blemishes will be less visible, and nearly opaque in appearance when recoated.

A special word of caution — many homeowners make the common mistake of requesting a high gloss finish once the floors have been stripped and enammelled. While the veneer will appear lush, your floors will be too reflective, and you’ll feel you were residing in a basketball court or office lobby.

A satin finish, while duller, will better enhance the natural lustre of the wood.

we had the same situation. in an older house, the imperfections in an unfinished floor almost tell a story. it feels more like a home and less like a basketball court.

at least have some floor refinishing people come by to quote you on the work and see what their recomendations/advice are regarding the spots.

posted by glenwood at 6:06 AM on November 29, 2004

You may not be able to get out the stains completely but in my experience you won’t notice them. Once you get the furniture and the area rugs down, any little imperfections won’t be too visible. I re-finished a crappy pine floor in my old house that had been abused for 90+ years (paint, stains, nail holes, patches, etc) and although I thought it looked like crap when the room was empty, once we put the the rooms back together it looked fine. It was certainly better than the burnt orange sculptured carpet from 1967 that I ripped out!

Dalek is right about the satin finish but make sure that you, or your contractors use a high-gloss for the undercoats and only the less glossy finish on the top. Only high gloss is totally clear and and three coats of satin can look kind of muddy.

We pulled up naaaasty carpet yo reveal the oak beneath. The previous owners had cats, and, evidently, no litter box. We had to sand a little more in some places as a result, but the floor still turned out gorgeously. You can do the work yourself — it’s not hard, just grab a book at the library or the hardware store. Renting a random-orbit sander, a hand sander for the tight spots, and the sandpaper, plus varnish, will set you back less than $200 + a weekend per room.

posted by mimi at 7:20 AM on November 29, 2004

If you do the sanding yourselves (as we did), make sure you get a random orbit sander, as mimi suggested. Avoid the drum sander unless you’ve used it before, which I’m guessing you haven’t. Good luck. I’m sure it’ll look great with the existing wood.

posted by Alt F4 at 7:54 AM on November 29, 2004

I’m curious, as I’m in the same position: what was the ultimate solution in getting the stuck-on padding unstuck?

posted by Dreama at 8:35 AM on November 29, 2004

Regarding those stains, be prepared that when you hit them with the sander, the, ahem, stain will atomize and then its Hello Kitty. Buy a good quality respirator.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors - carpet padding damage Ask MetaFilter

posted by Heatwole at 8:36 AM on November 29, 2004

To remove the stuck padding, try paint thinner and a putty knife. The sander should be able to clear off the remaining material.

For the padding, we used something that I think was called a 5-in-1 tool. It was sort of like a metal ice scraper. We used it to scrape / scour / peel the gummy / spongy padding residue up. After we did that, we used a random orbital sander. It used a lot of sandpaper sheets, but it worked. Then we moved on to a screen on the random orbital sander. Then we moved on to the high-gloss base coats, and then two matte top coats, I think. We might have used PolyVinyl (?), but I’m a little hazy on it.

But yeah. A 5-in-1 tool worked great.

Never dealt with the stuck pad, but sanding and refinishing is pretty easy as long as the floor is moderately level. We did the following:

  1. sanded off the old finish with a drum sander and an edger
  2. raised the grain with water and sanded down with palm sanders
  3. applied 5 coats of water based polyurethane

The page gratuitously self-linked to above was for a floor that was not very level. I patched and refinished a much worse floor later, but it was more level at least. Here is the floor patching page. Here is post finish. One way to get rid of stains is to replace the stained boards. Small patches are reasonable to do, but you need to be comfortable with a chisel and a sharpening stone (I am). You also need to be able to find replacement boards that match in width and hopefully in color and grain. The floor boards in my house don’t quite match what is standard today, but we were able to save some from demolition work.

For applying the finish, I can’t speak highly enough for using a roller.

When I did our floors it was the same kind of deal. We were pleased to find old growth maple floors in our home. I sanded probably around 10 times. Starting off really coarse and working down to just a mesh screen and then sanding between coats of finish. Most blemishes were only skin deep and once we sanded it down it looked great. Be careful not to sand to deep or you can dig a trench in your floor.


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