No matter what kind of hardwood floors you have, eventually, it will have to be refinished — scrapes, scratches, dents, water and even time can leave your floors damaged.
The good news is that you can refinish most floors and have them looking good as new rather than replacing them entirely. The bad news? That involves sanding, which can mean a lot of mess and disruption.
Sanding can be a big hang-up for homeowners who want to refinish their floors. Floating particulates can ruin furniture, aggravate breathing problems and make for a cleaning nightmare. Dust will always be part of the process, but luckily, there are some ways to mitigate the dust devils and still revitalize your floors.
How refinishing works
Some people may choose to sand and refinish their floors themselves, but many save the hassle and time by hiring professionals. The first step is to remove the furniture from the floor area and clean the floor thoroughly with a broom. It’s essential to get everything off the floor and to cover items like couches with plastic or cloth covers, as some dust may still be airborne.
The workers will bring in sanders to quickly remove the top layer of the wood, taking the damage with it. While they are sanding, they should be wearing masks or respirators, in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommendations. After sanding, the workers will then clean the wood surface before reapplying a stain and finish, which will take time to cure.
Refinishing a floor used to mean inevitable piles of dust everywhere from windowsills to closets. Companies have been working on ways to mitigate this over the years, and today, many professional wood floor companies offer services to minimize or nearly eliminate dust.
There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of dust that makes it into the air while sanding a floor. Some are common-sense, while others are due to technology advances.
Common-sense approaches include turning off the home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to prevent dust distribution throughout the house, taping off the room with plastic and painter’s tape, removing all the furniture and making sure all carpets leading to and from the room are blocked off. One common-sense trick for contractors is to empty the bags on the sander and edger bags before they’re entirely full, according to the National Wood Flooring Association.
One way for contractors to control some of the dust is by connecting the sanders to tubing that carries the dust to bags outside, with the vacuums mounted on trailers. The other option, which our company uses, includes indoor vacuums with filters that catch even the finest particulates that can cause serious lung damage.
Both systems cost more up front for the businesses to use, which may mean their services are more expensive, but they save the homeowner the aggravation and expense of having to hire a cleaner to remove all the extra dust or do it themselves. They’re also safer for both the workers and the homeowners: removing the extra dust improves visibility on the floor, allowing the contractors to do a better job, and less harmful dust is airborne.
Dust is a reality to refinishing floors, no matter what. Companies that offer “dustless” refinishing are not being entirely truthful — no one can ensure that not a single particle of dust makes it into the air. We want to be realistic with our customers that there will likely be some dust, but we will do our best to minimize the dust with the equipment we have.
While preparing for a project, we cover all surfaces not being sanded with plastic covers to prevent dust from accumulating in places like closets, kitchens and bedrooms. We’ll also vacuum the floors between each coat.
After we finish, you’ll need to do some dusting around the house. Sanding produces fine wood dust particles, which come off easily with Swiffer-type dusters. Refinishing floors can be a stressful process, but with the right company and a little patience, the disruption to your home can be minimal and the results can be beautiful.