How to Finish Softwood Floors

Written by robert korpella
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How to Finish Softwood Floors
Floors made of softwoods, such as pine, may need to be refinished often. (ULTRA F/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Softwood floors, such as pine, usually are finished with stains or oils one to two weeks after the material is installed. This gives the new flooring time to adjust to the climate of the home. Raised edges and small cracks, if they are going to occur, usually show up during this period. Sanding also is a critical factor to consider when working with softwood flooring. Excessive sanding or allowing a sander to rest in one spot, even for a few seconds, can leave scarring or dents in softwood floors.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wood filler
  • Portable belt sander with 40-grit sandpaper
  • Square sander
  • 60-, 80- and 100-grit sandpaper to fit square sander
  • Individual sheets of 60-, 80- and 100-grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • Tack cloths
  • Rags
  • Mop
  • White spirit
  • Stain (if desired)
  • Extendable paint roller with medium nap applicator
  • Penetrating oil finish

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Fill visible cracks or holes with wood filler. Allow it to thoroughly dry before sanding.

  2. 2

    Sand the floor with a portable belt sander to address high spots and raised edges between boards.

  3. 3

    Run a square sander across the floor in the same direction that the flooring planks are installed. A square sander can be rented from home improvement centres. It is easier to operate and control than a drum sander, making it less likely to tear into softwood flooring. Square sanders also can be taken closer to walls and corners than drum sanders.

    Begin by sanding the floor with 60-grit sandpaper. Then, sand the floor with 80-grit sandpaper and make a final sanding with 100-grit sandpaper attached to the square sander. Hand sand with similar grit sheets of sandpaper paper along the edges of the room where a square sander cannot reach. Vacuum thoroughly between sandings.

  4. 4

    Apply white spirit with a rag or mop to floor materials such as heart pine that contain a high concentration of oils and resins that can affect how well stains or finishes will adhere to the wood.

  5. 5

    Clean the floor with tack cloths to remove all debris from the floor.

  6. 6

    Apply a coat of stain, if desired. Some prefer to allow softwood flooring to age naturally because it will gain a darker patina over time. Others might choose to exercise more control over the floor's colour by staining it. Apply stain with rags or a paint roller with a medium nap applicator.

  7. 7

    Roll on a coat of polyurethane or other oil to seal the floor. An extendable paint roller with a fresh, medium nap applicator works well. Two coats offers better protection, but additional coats can be applied for superior, longer-lasting protection.

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