Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Successfully Screen a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floor screening is carried out when a floor has dulled naturally through time but the overall condition of the wood is still good and does not require a full sanding and refinishing. Hardwood screening is a process whereby only the very top layer of the veneer is removed, leaving the stain or varnish untouched.

Screening is a delicate procedure that should only be carried out by professionals or the DIY-er who has previous screening experience. Heavy-handed screening will result in the whole floor having to be sanded and refinished from scratch – a costly error!

Screen your wood floor sanding using a buffing machine with screening appendage which you will be able to hire. Don’t forget to purchase suitable screening discs, which are available in 60, 80,100 and 120-grades.

Begin by affixing the roughest grade of disc (like sandpaper, the screening disc rule is that the lower the grade the coarser the disc) to the buffer then walk the machine across the floor along the length of the planks. As you move the buffer will screen off the first tier of finishing, although you must be careful to avoid over-buffing in any one place or allowing the machine to remain stationary whilst it is running. When the floor has been completely screen then lightly vacuum the dust particles away.

Begin again using a finer grade of disc, vacuum and repeat a maximum of four times each time using a finer grade of disc.

When the floor has been screened for the final time it should be markedly smoother and richer in colour than before, and completely free of tired old finishing.

Now the floor should be thoroughly cleaned with damp dusters to get rid of any particles of dust which might remain. Tie your cloth onto the head of a soft brush to get right into the corners, nooks and crannies.

Oil or water?

To screen properly you really need to know whether the existing finishing is oil or water-based. Oil-based finishing is best cleaned by a cloth dampened with paint thinner and water-based finishing should be cleaned with a water dampened rag.

Polyurethane finish

Using a good quality lambs wool mitt apply the new finishing to the floor sanding, starting at the corner of the room furthest away from the door from which you will exit. Do not completely submerge the mitt into the finish but allow it to soak up only as much as it can hold before bringing the mitt towards you in a pulling motion. Always move along with the wood grain, never against it. Polyurethane finishing should always be introduced to the floor in smooth and even strokes. Avoid puddling and seepage. Do not be afraid to wipe away residual finishing as you go and keep a dry cloth by you as you work.

Allow a full 8 hours (or preferably overnight) for the finishing to completely dry before returning to the room.

A little sanding goes a long way
When the finish has dried the floor is ready to be sanded by hand using a very fine grain of sandpaper. Use a light hand here as all you are looking to do is to bring a slightly matt effect to the sheen which is necessary if the next layer of finishing is to adhere to it properly. After the sanding clean up with dampened cloths as before.

Repeat the whole process again exactly as above. When you apply the third and final polyurethane coating do not sand to allow the natural shine of your newly screened hardwood floor to come through.

For best results leave the room unoccupied for 48 hours before returning furniture to the room.

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