A reader wants to refinish the floors in the living/dining area and wonders whether floors in contiguous rooms must be redone, too. (Reader photo)

QWe’ve got continuous hardwood flooring throughout our small 1950s home. We also have some furniture, including an organ, that’s too heavy to move more than a few feet. The flooring in our open living/dining/hallway area badly needs cleaning and/or refinishing, but we have been told by contractors that it would be unwise to refinish the floors in just those areas and ignore the bedrooms because the flooring is continuous throughout, so the result would look strange. Is that true? Short of moving all the furniture out of the house, which is not practical, what do you advise for protecting and improving the looks of our flooring?

Falls Church

AIf you want everything to match, you do need to refinish all of the floors. Whether a visual match matters to you, of course, is your call. In a house with thresholds, or raised wooden pieces that separate flooring in adjoining rooms, the visual break makes it easy to get a pleasing result while refinishing only one side. Without that, you would inevitably end up with flooring that looks different. But if you keep bedroom floors covered with area rugs and have furniture against walls except close to the doorway, you might be able to refinish just part way into each bedroom and get a satisfying look.

Dealing with furniture too heavy to move very far probably isn’t as big an issue as you think it is. The key to refinishing floors so they match is doing the same processes everywhere. It’s not essential to do everything at once, though. Brandy English, floor manager for Total Floors in Alexandria (703-658-5353; www.totalfloorsinc.com), said it’s possible to move heavy, bulky things to one side of a room, refinish the clear area, then reverse the process once the final finish there is dry. “We’ve done it for grand pianos,” she said. Floor finishes, whether water- or oil-based, usually need to dry for just 24 hours before it’s safe to move in furniture, provided the pieces are lifted up and set down, not dragged, she said. For less-careful moving, allow at least a week.

Total Floors moves furniture for $35 a room, provided the furniture is relatively light. There is an added cost for heavy items. And for tricky things that might be damaged if not moved correctly, the company reserves the right to say you need a professional mover, assuming you don’t want to do it yourself.

Refinishing, which includes sanding, staining and coating with finish, costs $2.49 a square foot at Total Floors, plus $1.49 a linear foot for shoe molding. This is the rounded trim that snugs up to the bottom of the baseboard. Floor finishers need to remove any existing shoe molding so they can sand close to baseboards, and it’s easier and looks better to install new molding color-matched to the floor.

Floor finishing prices vary quite a bit, so it pays to get estimates from more than one company. A company with a name that’s almost the same as English’s — Total Flooring in Fairfax (571-732-4946; www.totalflooringva.com) — quoted $3.50 a square foot plus $2 a foot for shoe molding.

We just noticed that carpet padding has ruined our hardwood floors. It has made black fuzzy spots all over the wood, and we are having a hard time removing them. What works? Or must we have the floor refinished?


There are lots of different carpet pad materials, so you might need to experiment to figure out the most efficient way to scrape off the residue. Some homeowners have found that it helps to soften the gunk by heating it with a hair dryer, then scraping. Others have softened the pad residue with detergent made for cleaning carpets, such as Resolve.

Alex Marroquin at AZ Hardwood Floors Services in Silver Spring (240-483-1258; www.azhardwoodfloor.com) recommends using a wood floor cleaner, such as Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. He took a look at the picture you sent and said he’s pretty sure that would work.

If it doesn’t, then yes, you’d need to have the floors refinished. That means sanding down to bare wood and then applying stain (assuming you want that) and finish, not just roughing up the existing finish and applying a fresh coat. AZ charges $3 a square foot for a complete refinishing.

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