You'll sometimes encounter painted hardwood floors in older homes. Paint was used as an inexpensive alternative to other methods of sealing the floor in order to protect it from moisture. Unfortunately, painted hardwood floors don't age well, since paint will show scuff marks easily. Thankfully, it's possible to refinish painted hardwood floors in order to remove the paint and restore the original appearance of the wood. To learn how, read on.
Check the Paint for Lead
One of the most important considerations with painted wood floor refinishing is that you always need to check the paint for lead before you start working with it. Lead was a common paint additive, and it can cause health problems if you inhale it or eat it. Sanding lead paint will release lead dust into the air, which means that you may end up inhaling a substantial amount of it if you refinish a wood floor with lead paint on it.
You can purchase test kits that will check for the presence of lead in the paint. You only need to take a small sample of the paint off of the floor with a box cutter and put it in the kit. If the paint contains lead, it's a good idea to hire professionals to refinish the floor. Special precautions need to be taken like using a dustless sander in order to prevent lead dust from being released into the air.
Remove the Paint With a Chemical Paint Stripper
If the paint doesn't contain lead and you don't need to take special precautions when working with it, you can easily remove it from the hardwood floor using a chemical paint stripper. You apply the paint stripper to the floor and let it dry. The paint stripper will soften the paint and bond with it, which allows you to use a paint scraper to remove it from the floor.
Removing all of the paint from the floor will most likely require a few applications of paint stripper. Paint becomes scuffed and dirty easily, and one of the ways to make the floor look better is to apply a new coat of paint to it. As a result, there are most likely several coats of paint on the hardwood floor that will need to be removed.
Once all of the paint is removed, you'll notice that the floor is slightly discolored. Wood is porous, so it will absorb some of the first layer of paint. You won't be able to remove this discoloration with a paint stripper, but refinishing the floor will remove the discolored upper layers of the wood.
Refinish the Floor
After you've used a paint stripper to remove as much of the paint as possible, you can refinish the floor like any other hardwood floor. You'll need to use an orbital sander with a coarse grit to remove layers of wood until you reach a fresh layer with no discoloration from paint or scratches. Once you've reached fresh wood, switch to sandpaper with a fine grit in order to polish the floor and give it a smooth appearance. Afterward, you're free to stain and finish the floor just like it was never painted at all.
Ultimately, the biggest challenge posed by painted wood floor refinishing is that older paints often contain lead, and sanding lead paint is a health hazard. Lead paint should be handled by professionals. Aside from that, removing the paint with a chemical paint stripper is an easy process, and you can refinish the floor afterward to remove any discoloration. If you don't feel comfortable refinishing the floor on your own or don't have the time, call a wood floor refinishing service in your area and have them do the job.