Hardwood floors: Investing and refinishing
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Solid vs. engineered flooring options
Solid hardwood consists of solid wood planks that come in a variety of widths and can be bought unfinished or prefinished. To prevent warping, it should only be installed above grade in locations that have a controlled level of humidity.
Engineered hardwood is made of strips of hardwood glued onto backer boards. It comes in various widths and is more tolerant to changes in temperature and humidity, meaning it works in any climate and can be installed below grade. Image courtesy of Tim Levels, HGTV Canada
Making smart choices
Whether you go with solid or engineered hardwood, it’s a big investment, so make smart flooring choices when it comes to colour and style. Room size, ceiling height, wall colour and existing decor should be your primary considerations. Remember: Regardless of what you choose, stick to it. Keep your flooring consistent throughout your entire house to help with flow and to make your space look larger.
Light hardwood works nicely in small rooms and performs well in high-traffic areas, as it hides scratches, dents and dust. Dark hardwood gives a more formal feel and is ideal for bigger, open-concept spaces. A classic medium brown can lend itself to a traditional look, while black shades give a space modern, urban appeal.
Floorboard width can drastically affect the look of a room. Narrow planks feel somewhat traditional, while really wide planks or barnboard give a room a warm, rustic vibe. I’d suggest going for something in between. Because hardwood floors are a significant investment, it’s safer to choose something classic and simple.
Ready to refinish your hardwood floors? It’s not as daunting a project as it may seem and is doable with a little effort and some elbow grease.
Tape off and seal all vents, outlets and doorways. Be sure to remove any shoe moulding. Don’t remove baseboards unless you’re replacing them.
Rent an orbital sander from your local hardware store and give the floors an even sand. Corners and tight spaces may need to be sanded by hand. Start with a coarser sandpaper and work your way down to a finer grit on the final sand.
You can choose either a water or oil-based stain. Water-based stains adhere better and maintain colour longer, but oil-based stains dry more slowly, allowing for a more even finish. Apply a thin, even coat of stain over the floor, applying with an applicator and blending with a rag. Work in small sections and never let your edge dry.
Apply a couple of coats of polyurethane to your floors with a high-density foam roller. And make sure you have an exit strategy – you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner!
Thinking of adding additional flooring to your space? Check out our list of fabulous flooring ideas.