Can Your Wood Floors Be Saved?

Can Your Floors Be Saved?

If you’re not someone who sands floors every day, it can be difficult to know if a particular floor can be screened, sanded, or if it needs replacement. In order to save yourself time, headaches, and unnecessary expenses, this is a question that should be asked before you start any wood floor project.

People who chose to have hardwood installed in their current home know the history of their floors. For example, they know that a particular liquid stain is urine from a pet accident and not an overflow from a watered house plant. However, many people do not have that luxury – they inherited floors with an unknown past. When deciding the fate of their floors, these individuals can only make decisions based on what they see. Generally speaking, wear from dirt, dog nails, and heavy foot traffic can be screened or sanded out. Damage from liquids, on the other hand, are often permanent and require board replacement.

The following samples are presented to help you understand the capabilities and limitations of screening and sanding. Note: these conclusions are made with the assumption that the floor is still sandable. Hardwood floors which have already been sanded in their lifetime may not be sandable, because solid hardwood floors and the veneer of engineered hardwood floors are only so thick – at some point they can no longer be sanded.

At first glance, these floors may look as though it is beyond hope. However, sanding can eliminate the remnants of previous floor coverings.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved!

Although seemingly innocent enough, gouges from a utility used when cutting up and removing carpet are just too deep to be removed by sanding.

Conclusion: No, cannot be saved.

Neglect. Years of wear have damaged the floor’s finish and exposed the bare wood. Heavy foot traffic and constant furniture movement are common culprits. Screening will improve these floors, but sanding is necessary to correct it.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved.

Heavy Pet Damage. Urine doesn’t bleach out. Pouring vinegar won’t help. Sanding is futile. Pet urine (ammonia) that is allowed to dwell on hardwood floors, oftentimes when its soaks through the carpet above, typically burns the flooring so deep that the only recourse is replacement. Often times, the urine has soaked into the subfloor below, requiring treatment before hardwood flooring is replaced.

Conclusion: No, cannot be saved.

Finish Not Properly Maintained. The finish is showing signs of wear. These are examples of floors that are on the fringe of needing a full sand, but would likely be fixed with just a screen and recoat.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved!

Machine marks. Homeowners without the requisite knowledge or hired individuals with machinery that isn’t properly adjusted can leave behind unsightly marks all over a floor. Though it will require an aggressive approach, sanding can fix this issue.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved!

Sunlight vs Shellac. Old shellac finishes can be ‘alligatored’. This annoying phenomenon can be remedied with large aggregate sandpaper. It’s a messy process, but there is hope.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved!

UV Damage. The sun wreak havoc on flooring of all types and hardwood is no exception. Those dark area beneath your rugs that haven’t seen the light of day for years draws a stark contrast to those areas touched by the sun. The padding or backing of your rugs can also impact the color of your wood floors. Most of the time these are correctable with sanding.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved! (probably)

DIYers. Know your limitations and don’t compound problems. These will sand out…eventually.

Conclusion: Yes, it can be saved!

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