I just purchased an apartment building that has a hardwood floor. Most of the finish has worn off where you enter the room and dirt has been ground into the wood. Besides sanding, is there anything you can suggest to clean that area before putting a coat of oil-based poly on? Same problem and question in another room with a parquet floor. – Ed Solar
Rob Johnstone: I am sorry, Ed; sanding is the only real solution if you want the hardwood to look like a traditional wood floor. And that goes for the parquet floor as well. With that as the best solution, you might get away with washing it with a good scrubbing, and then putting a very dark stain on it like a General Finishes “Java” gel stain, then a couple of coats of poly. Super dark floors are all the rage these days, and the Java covers a multitude of sins. What it won’t cover is where the old finish has completely worn away: if you can see the transition between the old finish and bare wood, that will likely be visible after the stain and finish treatment. You might get away with “area” sanding on those regions and then the Java/poly treatment.
Chris Marshall: I agree with Rob about sanding. Sanding the entire floor will both remove the foot traffic damage and blend that area into the rest of the floor to create a uniform, bare wood surface for refinishing. Whether you choose to then stain and refinish the floor or just refinish it with a polyurethane topcoat, the way to achieve consistent color and ensure that the new finish will adhere properly will depend on starting with a good “substrate” of clean, bare wood. Whole floor sanding won’t be the low-cost, fast solution, of course but it’s the best long-term improvement. And, great-looking hardwood floors will attract tenants. It’s an investment on your investment.