When undertaking a home renovation project, it's often necessary to remove old finishes from wooden flooring before you can sand and re-treat the floor. If you don't get rid of the old finish before you start sanding, you'll find that the old treatment will clog up the sanding abrasive, giving an untidy-looking end result.
Here are some tips on how to remove old finishes from wooden flooring for a truly professional finish.
Before you begin
Always try stripping a small, inconspicuous area of the floor before you try to tackle the whole area to make sure that your chosen technique is the right one.
Remove every item of furniture from the room before you start. It's just not possible to strip a floor properly if you have to work around obstructions.
Remember that many floor finishes like oil and resin-based ones are highly inflammable, as are the chemicals you'll need to remove them. Make sure that the room is well-ventilated and that there are no naked flames. When you've finished, dispose of any cleaning materials that are contaminated with solvents or old finish debris safely and appropriately.
Removing paint and varnish
If your floor is treated with paint or varnish, you'll need to use a suitable proprietary stripping product. Follow the manufacturer's directions, and be sure to remove all traces of the product from the timber by thoroughly wiping it down and then treating it with a neutralising product. If you neglect this task, you could find that your new finish will react with the residue of the old one and won't adhere to the floor properly.
You'll find a variety of stripping products and the neutralisers that complement them in your local DIY store. Choose one that matches the old floor finish you're dealing with.
Oil, wax and polishes
Oils, wax and polishes are best removed by using a cloth soaked in white spirit. Work the white spirit into the old surface finish to soften it, and then remove the resultant gunk from the floorboards by lifting it off with a paint scraper.
Once the surface finish is gone, use steel wool with white spirit to rub along the grain of the wood. This will get rid of any remaining finish that might have settled in the grain. Soak up the residue with cloths or newspaper.
When all the old finish has been removed, leave the floor to dry out fully overnight before you move on to sanding it in preparation for re-finishing.
When re-finishing wooden flooring, it's important to remove the old finish before you move on to floor sanding. Follow the tips above to make sure your floor is perfectly prepared for sanding, and to assure you of a professional end result.