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London is famous for its iconic buildings: red bricks, tall Victorian ceilings and most importantly, ornate hardwood floors. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with floors so timeless and beautiful, you’ll want to keep them that way! Perhaps you have them but they’re looking so old and dreary that they’re disguised by rugs and furniture, lacking the TLC they deserve in order to give them that woody sparkle that has stood the test of time so well.

Here at GJP Floor Sanding, we’ve compiled our top 10 must know secrets to getting perfectly refinished hardwood floors. Our refinishing tips can give your home the breath of life it needs. You’ll never hide your floors with carpet again!

  1. 1. Rent, Don’t Buy!

There’s no point splurging the cash on a sander or duster if you only plan on refinishing your floors just the once. Do your research and find out which London-based hardware stores allow you to rent equipment from them. This is an ideal, cost-saving option, but don’t forget your safety mask and glasses! These are cheap and you can always use these again for many DIY projects, so it’s worth buying out.

  1. Finishing Choices

There are three standard types of finishes that you can use to brighten your floors.

Polyurethane: with the choice of having oil or water based, polyurethane is what gives floors that plastic-looking finish. This is a fantastic choice for areas with high moisture, though scratches and chips are difficult to repair. Additionally, it can stain/ darken the wood, although it is possible to find some of the newer Polyurethane finishes that don’t affect the wood.

Varnish: for a glossy/ matte finish. Varnish darkens the wood as well but at a slower rate than Polyurethane. Repairs are easy with varnish finishes and the higher the gloss, the more durable the finish.

Penetrating Sealer: Depending on the make of finish, penetrating sealers can also darken the wood over time but this finish undoubtably wins us over with their outstanding protective qualities. It is the most natural looking finish and brings out the natural grain of the wood. Durable, easily repairable and an excellent protective layer for your hardwood floors.

  1. 3. Sheepskin Applicators bring results

For the smoothest finish, we at GJP recommend a sheepskin applicator to apply your chosen finish evenly. Normal brushes can leave you with rather un-stylish streaks and pools!

  1. 4. Plan your two day timeline:

For the best results, you’ll need to leave yourself more time than a quick afternoon to carry out your floor refinishing project. We recommend planning to seal your floors the same day you’ve sanded. This will give your wood instant protection and prevent moisture from being absorbed. Furthermore, try to complete the process in a day, as you’ll need to leave 24 hours between applying your last coat of finish, and putting all of your furniture back into the room. This is because it takes a day for the floorboards to dry completely.

  1. 5. A floor is for life, not just for Christmas!

Not many people realise this but a hardwood floor can last up to 100 years. So if you’ve moved into a London apartment and think the whole thing is desperate for a refurb, it’s worth checking how old your floorboards are because you’ll probably find, they’re only a quick refinish away from looking timelessly stylish once again! It’s good to note however, that whilst a hardwood floor can last for up to 10 refinishing procedures, you can only refinish a laminate floor once.

  1. Sanding is not always necessary!

For tiny scratches and small amounts of wear and tear that has only affected the surface finish and hasn’t damaged the wood in any way, you can get away without the hassle of sanding. Instead, head to your nearest London hard wear store and pick up a buffer to hand-scuff away small marks. All you need to do then is apply a couple of coats of your chosen finish and you’ll have shiny new floorboards in no time. The perfect, cost affective solution to small scratches.

  1. 7. Avoid oil!

Oil based soaps are bad news when it comes to renovating floorboards as they’ll need to be stripped entirely using ammonia of a sturdy, industrial cleaner before you can sand and finish your floorboards. If you’re new to your London home and aren’t sure what the products the previous owners used on the floor, it’s easy to test for oil by sanding and varnishing a small patch of your floor. If the finish sets, no oil has been used and you’re all set to renovate! Unfortunately, you can’t buff a room that has been cleaned or waxed with an oil based soap.

  1. 8. The rules of buffing and cleaning

It’s always advised to buff and clean your floors between coats of finish. This will remove dust, dirt and any impurities that will show up in the finish if you simply apply the second coat without cleaning.

  1. Sawdust is useful! Keep it!

For damaged floorboards with cracks or nail gouges in it, you can use old sawdust to make putty to fill in damaged sections of your floor. Convenient, as you can guarantee the putty will match the colour of the floorboards!

  1. 10. You can count on us

For a professional job done quickly and done well GJP are here to help. Though refinishing your hardwood floors might seem like an exciting DIY project that is financially appealing, the slightest buffing or sanding mistake is very obvious and shows in the finish. It’s possible to buff to hard, too thinly and too much finish can cause discolouration. It’s easy to ruin your floors and end up having to cover the costs when you least expect it. Our team at GJP are here to help with our competitive prices and professional services. We serve the entire length and breadth of London so wherever you are, we are a quick phone call away if you decide that hiring a professional is your best options.