20 Steps to Finish Every Foot
We’ve been fine-tuning our process for years. And even though every hardwood floor is unique, we find that adhering to this process is a proven method to protect your floor.
1. Prepare the Floor:
Make sure all furniture is off the floor and the floor is relatively clean, removing as many wall decorations as possible, as well as flipping up the drapes and curtain. Next, we remove the covers from any baseboard heaters and any doors that may prohibit sanding. We’ll also cover any electronics with plastic. Even though our dustless sanding removes 98% of airborne dust; we always take the extra precaution.
2. Inspect the Floor:
In step two, we give the floor a quick inspection to make sure there are no large nails or screws protruding from the surface. If there are, we set them using the appropriately sized nail set.
3. Mastic or Shellac:
If there is mastic (plant resin) on the floor, we begin by using 12 or 16 grit on the big machine and edger to remove as much as 95% the mastic. If there is old Shellac, we use 16 or 24 grit on the big machine and 12 or 16 grit on the edger to remove the majority of the Shellac.
4. Cross-Cut the Floor:
Once the mastic or Shellac has been removed or if there is only old urethane covering the floor ( which is the most typical circumstance), we start “cross cutting” the floor with a 36 grit on the big machine. Cross-cutting is achieved by sanding slightly across the grain at about a 30 degree angle with the big machine in order to “flatten” the floor. This is often a tedious part of the process but is well worth the extra time.
Using 50 grit on the big machine, we burnish the 36 grit cross-cut lines out by sanding with the grain. At this point, we make sure all areas of concerns such as pet stains, water stains or past spills are buffed out. We can repair these spots if you choose.
6. Rough Edging:
If there was no Shellac or mastic on the floor and the urethane was made after 1970, we do two passes with the edger The first pass is done with a 16 grit. The second is done with a 40 or 50 grit depending on the wood species.
7. Vacuum & Filler:
At this point the floor should be bare wood except where the big machine and edger could not reach. Here, we vacuum the floor well and set any nails or staples that are not below the surface. On older floors, we will spot fill nail holes, staple holes and chip-outs. On new floors, we will spot fill staple holes, nail holes, chip outs and any gapping between floor boards. Any wind-shake or blisters will be fixed using an epoxy.
8. Final Sanding:
Using 80 or 100 grit (depending on the wood species) on the big machine, we’ll sand off the wood filler and sand out the 50 grit lines.
9. Final Edging:
Using 80 or 100 grit (depending on the wood species) on the edger, we’ll sand out the rough edging lines and smooth out the transition to where the big machine stops at the wall.
10. Random Orbit Sander:
Using 100 grit on a random orbit sander, we blend the transition from the big machine to the edging. We also sand all the doorways to prevent profiling from the edger. Profiling is when you can see anything the edger had sanded after the finish was applied.
11. Random Orbit Sander (for staining only):
If the floor is to be stained, we make sure to sand out all edging lines with a random orbit sand. This is time consuming but a vital process for preventing edger “swirls” (sanding marks left by the edger) from being highlighted by the stain.
12. Scrape the Corners:
Using a small hand scraper, we remove any finish in the corners or any place the edger couldn’t reach, such as nosings and around radiators. After clearing the finish with a sharp scraper, we complete the hard-to-reach spots with a little hand sanding.
13. Vacuum the Floor:
Buffing comes next. But before we can polish the floor, we vacuum in order to remove any debris or sanding grit that may get in the way.
Instead of using buffing screens, Natural Accent Hardwood Floors has invested in a 6-head satellite buffer attachment. Using the satellite with 120 grit discs, we buff the floor taking extra care to smooth out the transition from the big machine to the edging. We also spend time on large areas that were sanded using the edger to prevent profiling.
15. Final Vacuuming and Cleaning:
We pride ourselves on leaving a room looking better than we entered it. This is why we give the area a good cleaning by wiping down shelves, tables, counter tops and any other surface that is near the sanding area. After buffing, we give the floor and the perimeter a thorough vacuuming.
16. Water-Popping (for staining only):
Water-popping refers to wiping the entire floor down with a wet rag. This opens up and raises the grain of the floor to better accept the stain. In other words, the floor “pops up.” This is a crucial step to achieving professional results when staining the floor. No areas must be skipped when water popping or it will be very apparent once the stain is applied.
17. Tape Off Areas:
To prevent stain or sealer from ruining the surfaces, we tape off any areas that you wouldn’t want stained – like carpet.
18. Apply Sealer or Stain:
We begin applying sealer or stain depending on the color you desired.
19. Apply Finish Coats:
Here, we add the finish coats to the floor according to the “finish package” you select.
20. Clean Up
We’re done. All that’s left is to clean up anything left behind and a discussion to make sure you’re 100% satisfied. Your finished floor will look as good or better than it did the day it was first installed.