Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated November 22, 2021)
Hardwood flooring is a beautiful addition to almost any home. Maintaining that flooring, though, is never really a beautiful event. Traditionally, this maintenance would consist of a large expense, messy dust everywhere, and a lot of frustration. There is a way to lower the cost, mess, and frustration for those who are willing to do it themselves.
Buffing, as this technique is known, typically takes less time and effort than the traditional way of refinishing floors. In fact, you should be able to get this job knocked out in just one day. This method utilizes relatively little sanding. What little there is can easily be swept up and vacuumed, and better yet, all of the equipment and materials can be picked up at most local hardware stores. The total cost for renting a sander/buffer and getting the materials will run you around $300. It is strongly recommended that you rent the sander/buffer as opposed to buying one, since you will be doing this at most once every two years. Here's what you should ask for at the hardware store or equipment rental store:
When you go to your local hardware or equipment rental store, make sure you talk with a clerk or rental person to find out exactly what they suggest. The biggest variable will be your floor coating, as the type you get will depend on the type of hardwood floor you have and the how many square feet you are refinishing.
Once you have the materials and tools that you need, it is time to start work. As with any home improvement project, you want to begin by cleaning the area. Make sure any dust and dirt on the floor is vacuumed or mopped up. You then start in the middle of the room with the sander/buffer (be sure to use a screen, which is actually an abrasive pad, that is between 100 and 120 grit) to give you time and space to get used to the motions of the machine. You start work from the middle of the room, proceeding towards the exterior of the room in a circular pattern. Going in a circular pattern is not difficult, since that is the natural movement for the sander/buffer. Be sure you have a firm grip on the equipment since it does take some getting used to.
Once you have gone over the entire floor, go back and clean up what little mess there is, using the same method as before. Upon completion of the second round of cleaning, open up the cans of coating. Spread the coating evenly over your floor using a mop. Be careful in the corners and at the junction of your floor and walls; you don't want to get too much coating there and you don't want to miss any of those areas.
Once the coating has dried completely (the time required depends on items such as the makeup of the coating, air temperature, and ambient humidity) you have reached the final step: buffing the floor. Again starting in the middle of the room and working out in a circular pattern, simply use the sander/buffer (with a buffing pad attached) to buff the floor until you have reached your desired level of shine.
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