How to refinish an aluminum oxide hardwood floor

Posted: October 16, 2023

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Author – Ryan Palma Owner/CEO Sustainable Lumber Co.

Refinishing aluminum oxide hardwood floors can be a bit more challenging than refinishing a traditional hardwood floor because aluminum oxide is such a hard, durable, and protective finish that it is more resistant to standard refinishing techniques. However, it is still possible to refinish aluminum oxide floors with some care and the right equipment.

For prefinished aluminum oxide options, check out our rustic White Oak hardwood flooring and our rustic Hickory flooring.

Here are the general steps for refinishing aluminum oxide hardwood floors:

Tools and Materials You’ll Need for A DIY Aluminum Oxide Floor Finish:

  1. Floor sander (drum or orbital)
  2. Sandpaper (various grits: 36, 60, 80, 100, 120)
  3. Vacuum cleaner or broom
  4. Tack cloth
  5. Wood filler
  6. Putty Knife
  7. Stain (optional)
  8. Polyurethane finish compatible with aluminum oxide (water-based recommended)
  9. Paint roller or T-Bar with extension pole
  10. Paintbrush or foam applicator
  11. Floor buffer
  12. 120-200 grit screens (for buffing)
  13. Respirator mask
  14. Safety goggles
  15. Ear protection
  16. Knee pads
  17. Dust mask

Step-By-Step Guide for A DIY Aluminum Oxide Floor Finish:

1. Preparation:

  • Clear the room of all furniture and rugs.
  • Remove any dust or debris from the floor using a vacuum cleaner or broom.
  • Ventilate the area by opening windows and doors, and use fans if possible.

2. Inspect and Repair:

  • Inspect the floor for any scratches, gouges, or deep damage. Use wood filler and a putty knife to fill in any imperfections. Allow the filler to dry and sand it flush with the surrounding floor.

3. Sanding:

  • Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper (around 30-60 grit) on a floor sander to remove the existing aluminum oxide finish. Sand the entire floor evenly, moving with the grain of the wood.
  • Gradually work your way up to finer grits (80, 100, 120) to achieve a smooth surface. Ensure each pass removes the marks from the previous grit.
  • Vacuum or use a tack cloth between sanding passes to remove dust and debris.

4. Staining (optional):

  • If you want to change the color of the wood, apply wood stain according to the stain manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to dry completely.

5. Applying the New Finish:

  • Apply a new polyurethane finish compatible with aluminum oxide. Water-based finishes are recommended as they tend to adhere well to aluminum oxide. Use a paint roller, foam applicator, or T-Bar for a smooth and even coat.
  • Work your way out of the room to avoid stepping on the newly finished areas.
  • Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually a few hours).
  • Lightly sand the first coat with a 220-grit screen or sandpaper to smooth out imperfections.
  • Apply a second coat of finish and allow it to dry completely. Some floors may require a third coat for added protection.

6. Buffing (Optional):

  • If you want an extra smooth finish, you can buff the final coat of polyurethane with a floor buffer and a 220-grit screen. This helps to remove any minor imperfections and create a satin or semi-gloss finish.

7. Final Cleanup:

  • Allow the final coat to completely dry and cure, usually 24-48 hours, before moving furniture back into the room.
  • Clean your equipment thoroughly.

When available, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific products you’re using, and consider consulting a professional if you’re unsure about any steps in the process of refinishing aluminum oxide hardwood floors. Safety precautions, such as wearing protective gear and ensuring proper ventilation, are essential when refinishing any hardwood floor.

Our knowledgeable and educated staff is here to answer any additional questions you may have. Please call us today for a free quote: Ph# 406.642.7120 or click here to submit an inquiry online. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

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