How to Remove Dust While Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors probably ranks among the top ten messiest things in the world, if there were such a list. Sanding hardwood floors creates a tremendous amount of dust, every spec of which must be removed before applying stain, polyurethane or whatever you're using to finish the wood.

Isolate the area
You can minimize the dust by isolating the work area with sheets of plastic. Seal around and under doors and windows using plastic and painter's blue tape. Cover any air vents, electrical outlets and light fixtures. If there are built-in bookcases or cabinetry in the area, cover that too. It will minimize any flat surfaces you'll later have to clean, and dust will sift into the cabinets.

Clean as you go
Keep a shop vac within reach to keep the bulk of the mess under control. Your goal is not to keep the area as clean as an operating room, just to keep the mess manageable.

Sweep, sweep, then sweep some more
When you're done, sweep the area thoroughly using a fine bristled brush. Start with the ceiling and walls-that's right, the walls. An enormous amount of dust will be clinging to the walls and ceiling, and you don't want this falling into the fresh stain on your floors. Sweep the walls down with a clean broom. You may even want to follow this with a slightly damp towel.

Vacuum
After sweeping, vacuum the floors. A shop vac is best, but a canister vacuum or upright with a hose attachment will do. Vacuum every plank with special attention to the cracks and seams between planks. Be sure to get around the edges of the room at and under the baseboard. It's a good idea to work backwards, towards an exit so you don't have to walk with dirty boots over the area you just cleaned.

Note: Do not use a wet mop or damp towel on hardwood floors. Water is not wood's friend and you'll just be stirring dusty water around leaving a film of dust behind when it dries.

Be extra meticulous with the cleaning and it will make the final refinishing a lot easier.

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