Summary: Many people tend to avoid refinishing their hardwood floors because of the mess that comes with sanding, but sanding isn't the only way to restore the beauty to hardwood floors.
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What Causes Dull Lifeless Floors
Generally, hardwood floors are covered in a hard, polyurethane coating to protect the finish of the floors. When it dries, the hard shell prevents all but the worst of damage to the floors. Scratches and worn spots are usually in the polyurethane, not in the wood itself. Unless the damage extends all the way through to the bare wood, sanding usually isn't necessary to restore the floor. Two methods are available to refinish hardwood floors without sanding: screening and chemical refinishing.
Screening is the method generally used by professional hardwood floor refinishers. In screening, a special pad which scuffs the floor is used on a low speed buffer. This scuffing process will remove the small scratches in the polyurethane coat that make the floor appear dull. The scuffing produces a small amount of dust that can then be vacuumed away. After any last dust is cleaned with a rag, a new polyurethane coat is applied.
In chemical refinishing, a three step process is used to restore the hardwood floor. First a chemical sander is used to remove damage to the existing polyurethane coat. This is a liquid applied to the floor. After that, the floor is coated with a bonding chemical. Last, the final clear coat is applied. While this process isn't recommended for a beginner, a knowledgeable home owner should be able to use chemical refinishing to restore hardwood floors. Look for chemical refinishing products at local home stores or from a hardwood flooring company.
Cost for Sandless Refinishing
The cost for these processes depends, of course, on whether professionals are hired or it is a do-it-yourself job. The average cost for hiring professionals to perform either screening or chemical refinishing is about $1.25 per square foot, depending on the size of the rooms being restored. For a do-it-yourself job, the price averages about 38 cents per square foot for the cost of the materials.