De-scuff your hardwood floors

A pro’s guide to sanding, staining, finishing

By Paul Bianchina
Inman News™

Hardwood floors are a beautiful feature in homes of any style. But if yours are showing their age and the wear and tear of scratches, sun-fading, and countless kid and dog miles, refinishing is the ideal way to breathe new life into them. Refinishing your floors will also blend in any repaired areas, and is the best way to make transitions between old and new rooms come together seamlessly.

Refinishing hardwood floors is a two-step process, with an optional third one depending on your preference. The floors first have to be sanded, then they’re coated with a new finish material. The optional step, done in between, is staining, which is done if you wish to add any type of color beyond that of the natural wood.

Getting ready

First of all, you have to determine if you have “real” hardwood floors that can be sanded and refinished. Laminate floors, of course, are not designed to be refinished. But more confusing are some of the engineered wood floors. These are strips of plywood or other substrate materials covered with a thin top layer of hardwood. Some engineered floors have a layer that’s thick enough to allow for one sanding.

If you’ve removed carpet from the area, be sure all the pad staples and tack strip nails are out. Fill any holes and repaired areas with putty. If you’ll be staining the floor, use a stainable putty, or a precolored putty that’s the color of the finished floor. Finally, remove the baseboards, and number them in order so you can easily reinstall them.

Sanding creates lots of dust! So, next you want to get the area ready. Tape plastic sheeting over doorways and over any cabinets. Remove anything hanging on the walls. Remove or cover light fixtures. Consider opening a window and placing a fan in front of it to draw dust outside. If your return air grill is located in the room where you’re sanding, cover it, and shut the power to the furnace so that dust isn’t circulated throughout the house.

Sanding

You can rent the upright drum sander used for sanding hardwood floors at any rental yard, and they’ll supply you with the necessary sandpaper as well. These sanders are heavy beasts, and they can be a little tricky to use. Tip the sander back, start the drum in motion, then lower it into contact with the floor. Keep a firm grip on the handles, since the sander will want to pull you forward.

Don’t start the sander with the drum in contact with the floor, because it will create deep gouges that are hard to get out.

As you approach the wall, stop before you hit it. Sand with the direction of the grain, and don’t let the sander sit on the floor in one spot for long, or you’ll gouge it.

If the floor is badly scratched or warped, start with 24- to 36-grit paper. Then, switch to 50- to 60-grit paper and go over it again. For a floor that’s not too badly damaged, you can start with the 50-grit.

After doing the main part of the floor, finish off the edges using an edge sander, which can also be rented. This is like a big disk sander with casters, and is guided along the edge of the wall. Use a left-to-right sanding motion to feather in the sanding marks left by the drum sander. Corners and other hard to reach areas can be done with a pad sander. Final sanding is done to 100- to 120-grit using a sanding screen, which is similar to a floor buffer. This can also be rented.

Remember to wear a dust mask and hearing protection for all of the sanding steps. Finally, vacuum the floor to remove all remaining dust. Don’t use a damp rag to clean it, as that can raise the wood’s grain

Stain and finish

If you choose to stain the wood, that’s the next step. Liquid, oil-based stains are typically used for hardwood floors, since they’re easy to apply and don’t raise the grain. Apply some stain in an inconspicuous spot or on a scrap of the same type of wood to be sure you like the color. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, and work from one corner toward an exit.

Apply the stain with a rag, brush, pad or roller, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the stain needs to be wiped off, you may find it easier to work with a second person — one applying the stain and the other wiping off the excess as needed. Allow the stain to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions — usually at least 24 hours — before applying a top coat.

Polyurethane is a common top-finish material. It dries clear, wears well, and is easy to apply. Both oil-base and water-base versions are available.

The oil-base materials have long been the preferred choice, but water-base materials have been greatly improved in recent years, and offer a number of distinct advantages. They dry faster, clean up easier and, perhaps most important, put out a lot less odor. However, they’re generally thinner and usually require a buildup of at least three coats to get a good protective finish.

Talk to an experienced paint store for their recommendations, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for application and safety precautions.

Remodeling and repair questions? Email Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com. All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, August 27-28, 2011

Hopefully Hurricane Irene won’t put a damper on open houses this weekend!  The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, August 27-28, 2011:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at: http://deerhurst.net/category/upcoming-open-houses/, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

5933455 $209,900  10 E Galloway Ct Newark DE Abbotsford
5876711 $225,000  20 Keats Dr Claymont DE Ashbourne Hills
5934604 $484,900  1204 Glossy Ibis Ct Middletown DE Augustine Creek
5902153 $303,450  525 E Boxborough Dr Wilmington DE Ballymeade
5931107 $185,000  119 David Rd Wilmington DE Bestfield
5932062 $170,000  5 Holloway Cir Newark DE Birchwood Park
5938252 $509,900  954 Old Wilmington Rd Hockessin DE Bon Ayre
5921119 $220,000  4403 Washington Blvd Wilmington DE Brandywine Hills
5864869 $130,000  316 Brookland Ave Wilmington DE Brookland Terrace
5931182 $359,900  37 Calvarese Dr Bear DE Calvarese Farms
5935624 $299,900  612 Dandenog Dr Wilmington DE Castleshire
5902833 $79,900  604 W 27th St Wilmington DE Concord Heights
5773511 $699,900  103 Parker Dr Middletown DE Crossland at Canal
5774534 $309,900  101 Parker Dr Middletown DE Crossland at Canal
5929387 $289,900  110 Dewalt Rd Newark DE Drummond Hill
5927477 $219,000  25 Brier Ave Wilmington DE Elsmere
5904646 $265,000  703 N Country Club Dr Newark DE Fairfield
5936740 $199,900  619 5th St Newark DE Green Valley
5908125 $309,900  710 Clifton Dr Bear DE Hickory Woods
5919097 $299,900  47 Longleaf Ln Bear DE Hickory Woods
5892398 $229,900  323 Marsh Rd Wilmington DE Hillcrest
5929584 $210,000  305 Marsh Rd Wilmington DE Hillcrest
5868292 $179,900  706 S Harmony Rd Newark DE Hillside Heights
5935473 $159,900  2438 Hammond Pl Wilmington DE Kirkwood Gardens
5938528 $279,900  2222 Decatur Rd Wilmington DE Lancashire
5777919 $339,900  107 Bunting Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Hills
5931128 $205,000  36 Hodgkins Pl New Castle DE Llangollen Estates
5917959 $369,900  98 Willow Grove Mill Dr Middletown DE Longmeadow
5906974 $236,900  18 Mcmechem Ct Newark DE Meeting House Hill
5931910 $227,900  26 White Clay Cres Newark DE Meeting House Hill
5883288 $159,900  1 Phyllis Dr Newark DE Newkirk Ests
5875835 $139,600  224 Cobble Creek Curv Newark DE Newtown Homes
5907909 $344,900  1203 Norbee Dr Wilmington DE Normandy Manor
5894740 $255,900  518 Southampton Ln Wilmington DE North Pointe
5817670 $424,990  315 Friedman Dr BRANDY New Castle DE Northern View
5874845 $379,900  304 Friedman Dr DYNAST New Castle DE Northern View
5895554 $249,900  810 Parkside Blvd Claymont DE Northridge
5906285 $155,000  9 N Merriment Dr Newark DE Old Mill Village
5847456 $219,900  22 E 6th St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5888267 $329,000  201 Harmony St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5917748 $995,000  203 Haystack Ln Greenville DE Owls Nest
5889671 $89,900  3810 Eastview Ln Wilmington DE Paladin
5894557 $159,900  134 Tennessee Ave Wilmington DE Pleasant Hills
5758208 $257,900  106 Pleasantville Ct New Castle DE Pleasantville Place
5899371 $319,900  4 Capa Ct Wilmington DE Ridgewood
5930007 $247,500  121 Sugarberry Dr New Castle DE Rutledge
5919687 $119,900  96 Freedom Trl New Castle DE Saddlebrook
5916199 $419,900  241 Murphy Dr Middletown DE Shannon Cove
5913784 $254,900  209 Weldin Rd Wilmington DE Shellburne
5895587 $249,900  1207 Highgate Rd Wilmington DE Sherwood Park Ii
5932551 $459,900  8 Canter Cir Newark DE Stirrup Farms
5931140 $275,000  11 Advent Ct Newark DE The Landings
5934008 $349,900  236 Porky Oliver Dr Middletown DE The Legends
5931456 $223,000  133 Einstein Dr Bear DE The Verandes
5929610 $276,900  207 W Silver Fox Rd Newark DE Timber Farms
5931916 $189,000  1807 Williamson St Wilmington DE Trolley Square
5936576 $209,000  241 Becks Woods Dr Bear DE Village Of Becks P
5928512 $355,000  18 Jacqueline Dr Hockessin DE Wellington Hills
5936498 $155,000  191 Auckland Dr Newark DE Wellington Woods
5906911 $389,000  319 Shisler Ct Newark DE Westover Woods
5933198 $312,000  126 Jade Dr Wilmington DE Wexford
5873366 $124,000  240 King William St Newark DE Williamsburg Vil
5930626 $142,500  3206 N Monroe St Wilmington DE Wilm #02
5912278 $354,900  1621 N Franklin St Wilmington DE Wilm #11
5925717 $149,900  18 Yale Ave New Castle DE Wilm Manor Gardens
5783875 $299,900  103 Danforth Pl Wilmington DE Windybush
5907511 $239,900  122 Southwick Dr Wilmington DE Windybush
5936836 $300,000  1600 Tudor Pl Wilmington DE Windybush
5899091 $209,000  1 Woodbury Ct Wilmington DE Woodland Park
5868565 $249,900  1915 W Zabenko Dr Wilmington DE Woodmill Village

Come out and see these houses this weekend!

Deck maintenance in 4 easy steps

Deck maintenance in 4 easy steps
Tips for tackling mildew, UV exposure

By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News™

Q: Our redwood deck is looking pretty sad. It’s time for a good cleaning and refurbishing. I’m a longtime reader and know you’ve written before on the care and maintenance of decks. Could you refresh my memory?

I seem to recall your recommending a pressure washer, but honestly I’m a little afraid of doing some damage. Is there another way?

A: Every year around this time, we get questions from readers who want to know how best to care for their outdoor wood, whether it’s decking, fencing or siding. With the warm weather here, a quick refresher course is in order.

For longevity as well as aesthetics, we prefer to apply a preservative to outdoor wood. It can either be semitransparent stain or clear preservative. While stain will change the color of the wood, a clear preservative will darken and enrich its natural color. An example is redwood, which is a light red, almost pinkish color in its freshly milled state but turns to a deep red rose when treated with most preservatives.

Whether you choose stain or clear finish, pick a product with UV protection. We like two brands in particular: Preserva-Wood and Duckback.

To look their best and prolong their lives, decks should be cleaned once or twice a year. Frequency depends on exposure to weather and use. A maintenance program consists of cleaning the deck, removing any mildew and applying a new coat of preservative.

Although we continue to believe that the best way to clean a deck is with a pressure washer, a stiff-bristle brush and plenty of elbow grease will do the job, especially if cleaning is done regularly. Think about going to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned. The job is a lot easier and less painful if it’s done every six months.

A pressure washer sends out a pressurized fan of water that makes short work of surface dirt, mold and mildew. These machines are available at rental centers and can be purchased at home centers. If you get along well with your neighbors, consider getting two or three of them to chip in on buying one and then sharing it.

We recommend using a pressure washer that can produce a stream of water of at least 1,500 pounds per square inch. Be sure to keep the wand moving so you don’t blast softer wood away from the surface and leave a rippled effect on the deck. Deck cleaners formulated for use with pressure washers are available where the machines are rented or sold.

If you go the brush route, use a stiff-bristle brush and deck cleaner mixed in a bucket of water in the proportions the manufacturer recommends. We like to use a brush attached to a broom handle to save wear and tear on the back and knees.

In shaded, moist areas, mildew can be a problem. Wash with a weak bleach solution — 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of water — to kill the fungus before pressure washing or scrubbing.

Once cleaning is completed, thoroughly rinse the deck with clear water and allow the deck to dry for several days. Then apply two coats of UV protective water-repellent sealer or stain.

It’s a fair amount of work, but worth it. Choose a warm day to do it and the load will be lightened.

Open Houses: Saturday and Sunday, August 13-14, 2011

There are many, many open houses this weekend!!! The following properties will be holding open houses in the Brandywine Hundred, North Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Pike Creek, Newark, Bear, and Middletown, Delaware areas on Saturday and Sunday, August 13-14, 2011:

Can’t make the open house? No problem! Contact Brian Doreste today at 302-753-6398 to schedule your own private showing.

The most current open house list for New Castle County, Delaware can always be found at: http://deerhurst.net/category/upcoming-open-houses/, and is usually published every Thursday morning.

5906863 $269,900 400 Abbotsford Ln Newark DE Abbotsford
5929651 $400,000 108 Miners Ln Newark DE Academy Hill
5925146 $624,900 4 Granite Rd Wilmington DE Alapocas
5925358 $249,900 115 N Hunter Forge Rd Newark DE Anvil Park
5932546 $345,000 3 Brant Ct Middletown DE Appoquin Farms
5931966 $309,900 2205 Hillside Rd Wilmington DE Arden
5904180 $335,000 1203 Elderon Dr Wilmington DE Arundel
5929174 $495,000 759 Morris Rd Hockessin DE Auburn
5902153 $303,450 525 E Boxborough Dr Wilmington DE Ballymeade
5931911 $449,000 151 Ramunno Cir Hockessin DE Belle Terre
5782917 $179,900 1520 Seton Dr Wilmington DE Bellevue Manor Add
5913569 $188,000 700 N Augustine St Wilmington DE Bestfield
5932062 $180,000 5 Holloway Cir Newark DE Birchwood Park
5694622 $309,900 4007 Coleridge Rd Wilmington DE Brandywine Hills
5920455 $324,900 4500 Fielding Rd Wilmington DE Brandywine Hills
5903115 $249,900 2823 E Oakland Dr Wilmington DE Brandywine Springs
5914662 $424,900 2105 Dunhill Dr Wilmington DE Brandywood
5927796 $199,000 30 Martell Rd Newark DE Brookside
5931182 $359,900 37 Calvarese Dr Bear DE Calvarese Farms
5930783 $325,000 52 General Maxwell Ct Newark DE Cannonshire
5901241 $259,900 40 Anna Ave Bear DE Caravel Farms
5924241 $199,000 220 New York Ave Claymont DE Claymont Addition
5900792 $304,900 40 Club Ln Wilmington DE Club Lane
5862133 $429,900 20 Beacon Ln Newark DE Cotswold Hills
5908353 $159,900 29 Cawdor Ln New Castle DE Coventry
5928960 $625,000 13 Brentwood Ln Newark DE Covered Bridge Far
5902739 $220,000 3443 Old Capitol Trl Marshallton DE Cranston Heights
5773511 $699,900 103 Parker Dr Middletown DE Crossland at Canal
5774534 $309,900 101 Parker Dr Middletown DE Crossland at Canal
5916368 $338,900 2621 Abington Rd Wilmington DE Dartmouth Woods
5923964 $329,500 42 Sturbridge Dr Wilmington DE Dartmouth Woods
5930717 $324,900 1 Falkirk Ct Newark DE Deerborne Woods
5914810 $239,900 3318 Altamont Dr Wilmington DE Devonshire
5931574 $254,900 234 Old Churchmans Rd New Castle DE Duross Heights
5866728 $159,900 106 Dutton Dr New Castle DE Eagle Glen
5902576 $359,000 105 Edgewood Dr Edgemoor DE Edgewood Hills
5930500 $144,900 1312 Maple Ave Wilmington DE Elsmere Gardens
5902481 $427,900 29 Hempstead Dr Newark DE Farmington
5927832 $175,000 309 Melrose Ave Wilmington DE Gordon Heights
5861893 $275,000 2407 Matwood Rd Wilmington DE Graylyn Crest-nort
5869527 $180,000 144 E Green Valley Cir Newark DE Green Valley
5928172 $374,900 912 Lovering Ave Wilmington DE Happy Valley
5929990 $175,000 119 Melodic Dr Newark DE Harmony Woods
5904277 $309,900 500 Hemingway Dr Hockessin DE Hickory Hills
5917032 $349,000 544 Erickson Ave Hockessin DE Hickory Hills
5930124 $309,900 521 Faraday Rd Hockessin DE Hickory Hills
5919097 $299,900 47 Longleaf Ln Bear DE Hickory Woods
5870514 $839,000 9 Brandywine Falls Rd Wilmington DE Highlands
5908054 $269,900 1101 Hillside Ave Wilmington DE Holly Oak Terrace
5855318 $279,000 4647 Bailey Dr Wilmington DE Limestone Acres
5928834 $329,900 6 Inverness Ct Wilmington DE Linden Heath
5911447 $239,900 926 Rockwell Rd Wilmington DE Longview Farms
5917747 $189,900 109 Homewood Rd Wilmington DE Lynnfield
5929286 $214,900 109 Ridgeland Rd Wilmington DE Lynnfield
5872927 $250,000 14 Marble House Dr Bear DE Mansion Farms
5872322 $315,000 1418 Marsh Rd Wilmington DE Mayfield
5912092 $228,500 306 Nichols Ave Wilmington DE McDaniel Crest
5914786 $224,900 122 Spruceglen Dr Newark DE Meadowood
5916958 $264,900 124 Cann Rd Newark DE Melody Meadows
5830074 $152,900 248 Vincent Cir Middletown DE Middletown Village
5860304 $399,999 512 Old Baltimore Pike Newark DE None Available
5914051 $249,900 2396 Brackenville Rd Hockessin DE None Available
5817670 $424,990 315 Friedman Dr BRANDY New Castle DE Northern View
5874845 $379,900 304 Friedman Dr DYNAST New Castle DE Northern View
5903843 $389,900 14 Stone Crop Rd Wilmington DE Northminster
5895554 $249,900 810 Parkside Blvd Claymont DE Northridge
5869774 $310,000 416 Delaware St New Castle DE Old New Castle
5758208 $257,900 106 Pleasantville Ct New Castle DE Pleasantville Place
5899371 $319,900 4 Capa Ct Wilmington DE Ridgewood
5923830 $229,900 521 Pheasant Run Bear DE Rose Wood
5895587 $259,900 1207 Highgate Rd Wilmington DE Sherwood Park Ii
5932019 $369,900 205 Lauren Ct Wilmington DE Skyline Ridge
5895758 $255,000 567 Whispering Trl Middletown DE Springmill
5932551 $459,900 8 Canter Cir Newark DE Stirrup Farms
5857602 $344,900 247 Olivine Cir Townsend DE Stonefield
5751048 $199,900 3201 Falcon Ln 305 Wilmington DE Stoney Batter
5861638 $229,900 3209 Falcon Ln 127 Wilmington DE Stoney Batter
5887963 $234,900 3205 Falcon Ln 315 Wilmington DE Stoney Batter
5830942 $289,900 7 Currant Ct Newark DE Summer Hill
5907646 $474,900 710 Taunton Rd Wilmington DE Tavistock
5921523 $200,000 710 Ashland Ct Newark DE The Ridge
5931456 $223,000 133 Einstein Dr Bear DE The Verandes
5932814 $274,900 2 Wedgewood Rd Newark DE Tip Top Farms
5921524 $200,000 2505 Tigani Dr Wilmington DE Tybrook
5865643 $224,999 116 New Amstel Ave New Castle DE Van Dyke Vil
5880147 $200,000 115 Tuckahoe Ln Bear DE Village Of Becks P
5928512 $370,000 18 Jacqueline Dr Hockessin DE Wellington Hills
5873366 $129,000 240 King William St Newark DE Williamsburg Vil
5905162 $200,000 1068 Wagoner Dr Wilmington DE Woodland Hts
5926668 $419,900 16 S Cliffe Dr Wilmington DE Wycliffe
5883846 $375,000 2201 Patwynn Ct Wilmington DE Wynnwood
5926454 $134,900 2359 Taggart Ct Wilmington DE Wynnwood

Come out and see these houses this weekend!