Natural light complements wood floors. The sunlight illuminates the wood textures and brings more natural features into the space, working alongside the wood floors to bring the warmth and comfort of mother nature into a home. Sunny rooms brighten a space, making it feel and look more spacious, open, and inviting. However, like with our skin, too much sun exposure damages the surface of wood floors. From faded pigments to discoloration and warping, sun damage affects wood planks in various ways.
Although engineered wood possesses a lot of grit and durability, the ultraviolet waves from the sun’s rays still wear them down. Sun fading occurs as the UV rays stimulate a chemical reaction with the finishes and the photosensitive structure of wood.
If your wood floors are looking dull, faded, and discolored in some sections, especially those around carpets and near the direct line of sight of windows, then your floors might have sun damage. Read on to learn how to repair sun-faded hardwood flooring and make your floors look brand new again.
Survey the Floors
Sun-faded floors occur after intense and prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun onto the wood. They are most notable in rooms with rugs because the floor sections surrounding a rug will be considerably lighter or discolored compared to the planks shaded under the rug. Other common places where sun damage occurs the most include near windows, doors, under sky roofs, and other spaces exposed to intense and large amounts of sunlight.
Although only certain sections of a floor will show sun damage in some cases, redoing all the floors is a better way to ensure that you create a cohesive final look. Before tending to the faded floors, surveying the entire room allows you to note any cracks, scratches, and dents that you can also fix. It also helps you find any warped planks that might need removing and replacing.
Clear, Clean, and Prep
For a full floor repair, you need a clean slate. Removing furnishings and cleaning the floor ensures you cover and fix all the problem areas and create a cohesive final look when finishing the floors. Cleaning keeps debris out of the way when filling gaps, sealing scratches, and sanding. In preparation for the repairs, some equipment and tools you’ll need include:
- A buffer
- Safety gear (goggles, face mask, gloves)
- Sandpaper and sanding blocks
- Wood fillers
- Wood Stain
- UV resistant seals
- Paint brushes and rags
Before the sanding, fill and seal any wear and tear on the floor. Then, reclean the floor to ensure the buffer throws around no debris, which could block the sander and leave unleveled floors.
Sand Down the Wood
UV rays from the sun aren’t strong enough to penetrate deep into the wood. It mainly causes damage and affects the surface veneer, especially if the floors come with an industrial-grade finish. Sanding wood removes layers of the material. As the top veneer breaks down, so does the discoloration. It exposes the next layer, providing a clean and smooth slate for you to stain and seal. Sanding also levels out the new fillers and repairs.
There are more than 10 hardwood species within homes. Each species features individualized properties varying in its appeal, strength, and other physical qualities. Wood species with higher tensile strength, like hickory and maple, are harder to sand and may require professional assistance. For those working with engineered hickory flooring, it’s essential to understand that hickory reigns as one of the hardest hardwoods of all. This characteristic makes sanding a more challenging task and necessitates the use of stronger sandpapers.
Stain and Seal
There are several options to choose from when it comes to floor stains and sealants. These tools come with all kinds of different properties and colors. When choosing a stain, keep in mind the type of wood you have. Each wood species reacts and holds onto stains differently. A stain might look yellow with one wood species but neutral with another.
There are three major undertones in hardwood: warm, cool, and neutral. Each tone exudes slight color variations when mixed with pigments. Understanding undertones in hardwood flooring helps you choose the right stains to achieve a more accurate final result to your intended color preference.
Some species also hold and display stains more than others because of their granular structure. Oak hardwoods have large pores in their grain structure, making them one of the easiest wood species to stain. However, the various types of oak wood stain differently. Red oak will show stain colors in varying hues than white oak would. On the other end of the spectrum, maple is one of the difficult wood species to stain due to its tight grainage.
Like stains, seals come in various forms. They are like the added protective layer to wood floors. Seals consist of special mixtures that enhance qualities like resistance and shine. Popular sealants people choose for their floors include UV protectants, water-resistant, and scratch-resistant seals. On top of providing a variety of properties, finishes also differ in type with varying properties of their own.
Lacquer often comes as a spray-on sealant. It requires multiple layers but has one of the fastest drying times compared to other finishes. Lacquer is also easy to remove.
Oil-based finishes provide a satin finish. You can typically apply this finish with a rag, but it does take a while to dry. They work best in low-traffic areas. Water and alcohol can affect this finish, potentially leaving stain marks.
Polyurethane is one of the most durable and resistant finishes. It offers different gloss variations and people often use it on wooden cabinets.
Wax is a traditional sealant. They create glossy finishes and seal wood pores. However, wax finishes require regular touch-ups.
Water-based finishes work well with painted and stained wood. They dry fast, and homeowners and woodworkers often use these finishes to seal decorative items. However, when not applied correctly, they leave streak marks.
Shellac works with numerous surfaces, from drywall to wood. They dry quickly and provide a hard finish that acts as a protective layer against scratches.
Repairing sun-faded hardwood floors consist of three major steps, sanding, staining, and sealing. Sanding helps removes the discolorations and preps the floor for a new coat of color. Stains enhance the appeal of your floors and return color to the planks. Lastly, sealing adds final touches like protective coatings and shine, making your floors like new. Once you’ve coated the floors with the appropriate layers of finishes, your floors are signed, sealed, and delivered!