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Homes with hardwood floors have a natural charm and beauty. In many older homes, if you were to peel back the carpeting, you would discover that the floors are indeed hardwood and with restoration, they could be brought back to their natural splendor. Even new homes in the past several years are being built with quality hardwood floors as homeowners as starting to see the value. Not only do hardwood floors look beautiful, they are also healthier in that dirt and allergens do not become trapped, causing allergy problems.

Although there are many different hardwood floor types such as walnut, pine, ash, mahogany, and oak, the oak floor is by far the most popular choice simply for its enduring beauty and rich look. If you currently have hardwood floors or are thinking about having them installed, the finishing process is important and can make the difference between a great looking floor and one that is simply �okay�.

To begin with, before any flooring is installed, you should have it sit inside the home for up to three weeks so the wood can become acclimated with the environment. Once that time has passed, you may notice a few small cracks, gently raised edges, and so on, caused by the environment and can easily be filled and sanded. Allowing the hardwood flooring to acclimate any longer could lead to big problems so stay within the one to three week period.

If you have new hardwood floors, you want to apply the finish only after the rest of the home is built. During construction of a new home, there will be a lot of dust and unsettled things in the air and on the floor that would adhere to the flooring, causing it to be ruined. Therefore, you want this to be the very last thing you do and you want the walls, ceiling, and floor to be thoroughly cleaned.

If your home already has hardwood floors, start by emptying the room of all rugs, furniture, and window coverings. This will ensure that your belongings are kept safe and away from the finishing products used on the floor as well as dust that will be produced from the sanding process.

If the hardwood floor already has a finish on it that will need to be removed with a sander using sandpaper with a medium to coarse grit. If you do not own a floor sander, you can rent one from an equipment rental company. You want to start at the right-hand side of the wall where you have open floor space of about one-third of the room in front of you. When you turn the machine on, make sure the drum is lifted slightly off the floor. Move forward at a slow, even pace as you ease the drum to the floor.

When you get close to the wall, again lift the drum, move the sander over to the next plank, and then again lower it gently as you move back slowly and at an even pace. Depending on how well the floor sands, you may have to go over it more than once. Be careful not to get down into the actual wood where the floor would be damaged. A very slight top layer will sand but too much sanding will wear the wood down.

Once you have finished sanding, you will need to use an edger to get up close to baseboards, in the corners, up by the base of fireplaces, in tight spaces such as closets, and so on. Remember that the sandpaper will need to be replaced on occasion so keep an eye on it as you sand.

Once the sanding is complete and the floor cleaned, you will go back over every inch of the hardwood flooring to ensure all the nails are filed down, if needed, that blemishes and holes are filled and sanded, cracks filled, and so on. You can purchase filler that matches the wood perfectly at home improvement or hardware stores. Make sure any rough areas are scraped going with the wood�s grain and then do a final cleaning.

Once the prep work is done, you will stain the floor, using the color stain recommended by an expert. Be careful with this process to ensure the stain does not splash on the walls or windows. This process is best done by hand using a soft cotton cloth. Starting in one corner, you want to apply the stain, again stroking with the grain of the wood. Be sure to allow this to dry completely before walking on it and the completed project will look amazing.
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