Step-By-Step Guide To Refinishing Your Mobile Home Hardwood Floors

Jul 26, 2019Blog, DIY, Remodeling

Hardwood floors can be gorgeous. There is nothing like their feel. So no wonder people go to extraordinary lengths to protect them.

But no matter how well you care for the floor, it will eventually need some work.

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Read on for our step-by-step guide to refinishing your mobile home’s hardwood floors. We’ll cover everything you need to know to go through this process.

Time to refinish

It takes quite some effort to redo. Therefore you don’t want to jump the gun. So when is it time to work on your floors?

You can maintain the condition of a well cared for and high-quality hardwood floor for up to twenty years. However, by this stage, it will probably begin to show its age.

Discoloration, dullness, and scratches are all signs that it is time to refinish your mobile home’s hardwood floor. 

You will have to repeat this process several times during the floor and home’s lifetime. Overall, you should be able to sand down the average ¾ inch planks about 6 to 8 times before you have to replace them.

Refinishing is necessary to make sure that the damage doesn’t spread or become worse. But just as important, you’ll be able to restore the wood’s appearance. You can make it warm and glossy again, as good as new. It can even be the perfect chance to change its color and finish.

You might be thinking why to go through the hassle and why not just replace the flooring. Remember that a hardwood floor can be a high-value asset in a mobile home. Potential buyers love houses with hardwood floors.

The logistics of the project

Before you jump in, it’s a great idea to learn more about what you are starting.

First off, it isn’t a quick process. It can take up to five days to refinish hardwood floors. The time needed depends on the square footage of the flooring, the weather, the stain, and the poly that you use.

For example, it takes 3-5 days to finish a floor with oil-based polyurethane but only about two with water-based.

You need to be careful with newly treated hardwood. Don’t walk on the floors for at least 24 hours and only walk on it with socks for 24-48 hours. Importantly, we recommend that you wait four days to move back the furniture. But if you have no other choice, at least leave it for two days.

Secondly, it takes a lot of work. The process takes several stages. So you will need to be available for several days in a row.

We are going to look at each step in more detail. However, in short, you need to clean, sand, stain, and then apply a protective coating.

Can you do it yourself?

Onto the all-important question, should you attempt to refinish the floors yourself?

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to refinish the floor on your own. You need to be able to sand the wood evenly. And you need to be careful throughout to avoid causing damage.

Dusty and dirty wooden flooring

Besides this, pro’s will have all the equipment necessary, while you will need to rent and/or buy most of it. Significantly, you will need a large walk-behind sander that can cost about $200 a day. 

Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to rent equipment of the same strength and quality that experts use.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You should be able to complete the renovation yourself as long as you do some careful planning and research. Some experience will also help. And it will also be easier if your mobile home is not too big.

Experts will usually charge about $3 to $5 per square foot of flooring. On average people pay about $990 to $2,110 to have it done. So you could save some money if you tackle it yourself. As a DIY project, it will probably cost you around $900.

A pro tip is to take it slowly and to prepare appropriately for each step.

Everything you need

You will need plenty of tools and materials to get the job done. Of course, your specific needs will depend on the treatments you want to use and the size of the room.

Here are the things you’ll need:

  • A walk-behind sander or an electrical buffer
  • Terry-cloth mop
  • Sheets of 180-grit sandpaper
  • A paint roller on a long handle
  • Paintbrush
  • Handheld sander
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Protective treatment of your choice
  • Wood putty
  • White vinegar or hardwood cleaner
  • Masking tape or painters tape
  • A stain of your choice
  • Protective cover for your feet
  • Safety goggles 
  • Respirator
  • Putty knife
  • Roller tray
  • Rag or cloth
  • Bucket

Besides these items, we also recommend that you keep some general cleaning supplies on hand. Paint remover and cleaning rags will be particularly useful.

Now we can jump into the steps to refinishing the hardwood floor.

1 – Clean the floor

The first thing you need to do is to remove all the furniture in the room. Bring in the vacuum and make sure that you properly clean the floor.

Next, spray the floor with the hardwood cleaner. Or else with a solution ten parts water to one part white vinegar. Then wipe it off with a terry cloth mop.

2 – Prepare for sanding

You now need to prepare to start sanding the floor. Be warned that there will be clouds of dust. So you need to close all the windows and doors to prevent it from escaping. You don’t want the mess to spread.

Recheck the room. Make sure that you remove everything that you don’t want to end up with a coat of dust. Or, cover it with some painter or plastic sheets.

3 – Sand or buff the floor

This step is probably the most challenging one. You need to use a buffer or sander to sand down the damaged surface of the hardwood. Generally, you only want to remove the shallow layer. You don’t want to wear away the floor too much or damage it accidentally.

If you are using a buffer, put on the maroon buffing pad. You will find that this is usually the right grit level for wood floors. Or if you use a sander, take a 180 grit paper.

Old wood

Before you start, put on a respirator or protective mask. Turn on the machine and move at a slow and even pace across the floor. Try to sand it down in sections whose edges overlap to make sure and buff it down to the same level.

Stop every few minutes to check the paper or the buffing pad to make sure it’s not caked with dust.

The machine won’t be able to fit into the corners, and you probably won’t be able to properly use it to buff the section where the floor connects to the wall. You will need to use a handheld sander or paper for these areas.

Pro tip: Practice using the sander in a room that you don’t use often or a section of the floor that is usually covered.

4 – Clean the dust

Before you can continue, you need to get rid of the debris. Wait about 10 to 20 minutes after sanding to let the dust settle. 

Then, vacuum the floor. We recommend that you use a felt-bottomed attachment or something similar that won’t damage or scratch the floor. It might be necessary to sweep through the room more than once.

As an extra measure, you can wipe down the floor with a microfiber cloth too.

5 – Fill the gaps

This step won’t be necessary for every hardwood floor. But if there are deep scratches, gashes, or cracks in the panels, you will need to fill them.

It’s better to do this in the summer when the humidity is high because the wood will be fully expanded.

Don’t stress about tiny cracks as they can be useful to accommodate the natural expansion of the wood. 

Use wood putty and a putty knife or scraper to fill the wider gaps. You might need to gently sand over the cracks with paper once you have filled them to make sure it’s even.

There isn’t any guarantee on how long the filler will last. But it should last several years.

6 – Choosing the finishes and treatments

If you haven’t done so yet, you need to choose the finishes that you want to use.

First, let’s talk about stain. After sanding down the wood, some hardwood floors look fantastic just as they are. Sometimes you just can’t beat the appearance of natural wood. If you love how it looks, you don’t have to apply a stain.

But if you don’t like it, there are countless shades you can choose. Nowadays, darker hues are quite popular. They can help you make your mobile home look modern and can contrast well with light walls.  On the other hand, light colors are a great option if you want the room to look bright and airy.

You also have to choose a protective treatment for the floor. It is necessary to protect it from stains and damage.

Polyurethane is the most commonly used option. You can use it to create a transparent, protective layer over the top of the wood. There are several different choices like glossy or matte, or water-based or oil-based. Overall, they are more durable than other treatments.

Oil-based polyurethane lasts the longest. But on the downside, it takes longer to apply and to dry. And unfortunately, it gives off some nasty vapors.

Water-based polyurethane isn’t as durable. However, it takes less time to apply and dry and doesn’t give off as many odors and gases.

Alternatively, you can use varnish or sealer.

7 – Stain the floor

Remember, this step isn’t necessary. It only applies if you want to change or enhance the color of the hardwood.

Depending on the stain you use, you might want to open a window or two. Or you can even wear the respirator before you start.

Dip a cloth or rag into the stain and wipe it across the floor. You can also use a paintbrush if you want to. Try to avoid applying too much at one time. Otherwise, the fluid might creates pools on the floor. Afterward, wipe up the excess.

You are probably going to apply at least 2-3 coats depending on the result you want. Leave the stain to dry before you apply each coat. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on how long it will take.

8 – Apply the finish

Next, it is time to apply the protective treatment onto the hardwood floor. Make sure the stain is completely dry and has soaked into the wood.

Don’t forget your respirator.

You have two choices. 

dark wooden floor

One is that you can begin with the edges of the floor and the corners of the room. Use a paintbrush to apply the coating evenly on the sides. Then once you’ve done this, you can pour some of the fluid on the roller tray and use a paint roller to apply it to long sections of the wood.

Otherwise, you can start with the larger areas of the floor and then cover the spots that you couldn’t reach.

Again watch out for pools of excess finish accumulating on the floor. You need to apply it evenly. Be careful with water-based polyurethane, which dries quickly. You need to be quick with the application.

Leave the floor to dry for at least three hours. Then apply another coat if desired or needed. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual for how many layers you can use.

9 – Leave it to dry

Finally, all that’s left is to let it dry. As we’ve said, you need to wait several days before moving furniture back into the room. Water-based poly takes about two to three days, and oil-based poly takes about five days.

Good as new

Yes, it can be quite a challenging process to refinish your flooring. But once you’re done, it will be worth it. Your mobile home’s hardwood floor will look bright, warm, and shiny again.

If you’re ready to tackle a complete makeover read what’s in and what’s out for mobile home decor 2019. And you may find it especially helpful to read rehabbing mobile homes: 4 success stories for inspiration.

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