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Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006 02:32 pm

Restore your floor

If you use the right sander, it’s not a chore

Screening-sanding works best on floors that are lightly scratched and worn.
Dear Gene: We have older wood parquet floors that look shabby and need treatment. We have been told that we can “screen sand” them and refinish them easily. I have always heard that it is very difficult to resurface floors. What do you think?

Whether you can screen-sand depends on the condition of the floors. This procedure works on floors that are lightly scratched and worn. Screen sanding is basically a light sanding that uses sheets of fine abrasives called screens. Screen-sanding machines are available at many tool-rental agencies, along with the screens and instructions for their use. These machines are much easier to handle than the drum sanders used for deep sanding of floors, and many do-it-yourselfers have used them.

Drum sanders, which are used when wood floors have deep scratches, stains, or other damage that requires significant wood removal, are tricky to handle and in inexperienced or careless hands can cause serious damage to floors.

If your floors are stained and you screen-sand them, you will have to stick with the same color of stain. Switching to a different color or a clear finish requires deeper wood removal with a drum sander.

Your tool-rental agency can help you decide whether screen sanding will work for your floors and show you how the sanding machines work.

Dear Gene: We have a screened porch with a bare concrete floor. We would like to dress up the floor and have considered several options, including paint, but want something that won’t be slippery. Any suggestions?

You can paint the floor so that it will not be slippery. Nonslip coatings are available at some paint stores and online, and you can also buy additives that can be mixed with regular floor paint. What you will end up with is a coating that has thousands of bits of grit clinging to the surface. These provide traction even if the floor gets wet.

Nonslip coatings are also excellent for use on outdoor steps, swimming-pool decks, driveways, garage floors, wheelchair ramps, and many other surfaces where good traction is important.

If you use a grit additive, keep in mind that you must still use paint suitable for outdoor concrete floors. The directions on the paint container must be followed carefully to get good adhesion.

For online sources of nonslip coatings and additives, use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo and type “nonslip paint” or “nonslip paint additives” in the search space. However, your local paint store or home center will often have products that can help you.

Dear Gene: I have white aluminum siding that is turning green. When is the best time to have it pressure-washed, and is once a year enough?

Pressure washing is a great way to clean many surfaces, but it can also be overdone and can actually harm some materials, including some painted surfaces and softer woods such as cedar. Pressure-washing siding is also tricky because water can get behind the siding and cause damage inside the walls.

I wouldn’t consider pressure-washing siding on any regular schedule — only if it really needs it or it is being done before repainting. The green tint on your siding is probably an algae that can be removed with a cleaner such as Mildew Check or Jomax, sold at many home centers. These cleaners are applied with a garden-type sprayer and rinsed off with water from a hose.

Dear Gene: We had Bruce hardwood floors installed in our home last winter while we were away from the house for several months. The floors are beautiful, but now the planks in several places have buckled and risen up. What can we do about this?

The floorboards buckled because of expansion of the wood caused by humid summer conditions. The floor may flatten out again when the humidity declines. However, I think you should contact the manufacturer and installer about the problem and get specific directions for maintaining the floors. Bruce also has an informative Web site, www.bruce.com.

Keep in mind that moisture and temperature extremes can cause shrinkage and expansion in wood floors.

Send questions and comments to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com or 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Copyright © 2006 Gene Austin

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