The floor in this picture really is in need of some work. A good hardwood floor refinisher can bring an old floor like this one back to almost new condition if it is done properly. With all of the scuff marks and dust, it actually looks worse than it is. With a sanding and new stain it will look fantastic!
This floor needs a lot of work and you may want to hire a professional hardwood floor refinisher to do the work for you, however it is a good idea to understand what should be done for a floor like this so that you can properly evaluate the proposal from any company that comes to do this work for you. There are many companies that offer hardwood floor refinishing services. The only way that you will be able to evaluate them properly is to know and understand the process and have some idea of how long the work will take.
First Steps for Hardwood Floor Refinishers
Before you call anyone, we would suggest that you vacuum the floor completely to remove all loose material. Next we would suggest that you clean the floor with a damp mop, not a wet mop. The objective is to remove any dirt etc. that may be on the floor. You want to be able to see all of the imperfections in the floor, any damage to the floor and really be able to assess what is needed to bring this floor back to a like new condition. Some people might say that this is a waste of time, the refinishing people are just going to remove it anyway. While this is true, you will be able to see just how bad your floor is and make your own assessment.
The final step at this stage is an important one. When the floor is refinished, the top layer of finish and wood is going to be removed to expose clean wood that has not been penetrated by stain. If a floor is quite old, it may have been sanded several times before and not have much wood left for you to sand. You need to evaluate whether this is a hardwood floor that can be sanded or not. The easiest way is to remove the hot air register in the floor and determine the thickness of the wood that is left. If you do not have a register in the floor, you are going to have to determine some other method of assessing the thickness.
Refinishing the Hardwood Floor
Whether you do the work yourself or have someone do it for you there are a number of things to keep in mind. First of all we suggest you talk to professionals to help you understand exactly how to proceed. This post is just too short to cover all of the details. To start with when you are sanding, you should never sand across the grain of the wood. never use orbital sanders, since they will leave scratch marks that run across the grain of the wood. Always use an inline sander to do your sanding. Keep the sander moving continuously to avoid over sanding in one spot. Only sand off what you need to expose the original wood.
With old floors there may be scratches and nicks in the floor. Unfortunately you are going to have to put these down to adding character to your floor. Minor nicks can be sanded out, while deeper scratches and nicks will have to be left the way they are, other wise you will sand too much of the wood off. You may need to use a small pic to remove stain or wax from the grove or nick in the floor. There will also be some hand sanding on the floor in corners and other hard to get at areas.
Once the sanding is completed, a thorough cleaning is needed to remove all dust from the room and the floor. Again a damp mop is a good idea to pick up any remaining dust. Vacuum as well to get the dust out of the cracks between the strips of hardwood flooring.
Next you can apply the finish to the floor. There are many kinds of finish including stains to stain the wood to a particular color that you prefer as well as protecting coats that can be placed on the floor. The best approach is to go to a paint store and speak to someone who is knowledgeable in the subject regarding hard wood floor stains etc. They will be able to recommend the best stain and covering for your floor based on the condition as well as the look that you are trying to create. Most people will use a clear var-ethane type of product to protect the floor from normal wear and tear of people walking on it.
Ask lots of questions and make sure that you are comfortable with the professionals that are doing the job, that they know what they are talking about and that these hardwood floor refinishers will not leave it worse that it was before they started.