Q. I had my hardwood floors refinished with polyurethane about six years ago. They still look lovely, but are worn dull in high-traffic areas. Can I just apply more coats of polyurethane?
A. Polyurethane-finished floors can be recoated, and the process is not too difficult. Hopefully, you didn’t wax the dull areas in an effort to shine them, since polyurethane will not adhere well to wax and it is almost impossible to remove all traces of it without sanding down to bare wood.
It is also best if you use the same type of poly, either oil-based or water-based. If your floors have oil-based poly, it will have developed an amber tone that many people like. Most water-based polys are clear, although a few will amber somewhat in time.
If you decide to go ahead and recoat, you should first prepare the surface of the existing poly by using a machine equipped with abrasive screens, which you can rent at most tool-rental agencies.
Screens with 120-grit or 150-grit abrasive are usually recommended.
You will need to hand sand in corners and other tight places with sandpaper that matches the grit of the screens.
Next, carefully clean up all sanding dust by vacuuming, then going over the floor with a damp dust cloth (dampen with mineral spirits for oil-based poly, water for water-based).
When the floor is dust free, you can apply a new coat of polyurethane, following directions on the container for application tools, drying time and so forth.
A lamb’s-wool applicator is often recommended and gives a smooth, even finish when properly used. If you apply more than one coat, again follow directions on the container for preparing the surface.
You can help keep high-traffic areas from getting dull by using nonslip throw rugs in those areas.
Q. A house painter told me that the best paints to use on my house are those that cost the most. Is this true?
A. This used to be a common rule of thumb, based on the theory that expensive paint contained more and better ingredients.
It is true that some painters still prefer paints selling for about $60 a gallon. But paint has come a long way in recent years, and you can buy excellent paint for $20 to $25 per gallon that will often match the performance of the expensive brands.
This belief is upheld by Consumer Reports magazine, which conducts rigorous tests of many brands of paints and publishes ratings based on the tests.
Among moderately priced paints that usually give excellent results are such brands as Behr, Valspar, Glidden and Kilz.
Keep in mind that in painting, preparation of the surface is a vital key to the success of the job. I also know that many painters, especially do-it-yourselfers, simply start slapping on paint without reading the directions on the container.
Probably one of the reasons for ignoring directions is that the type is often so small that it can’t be comfortably read without a magnifying glass. But the information in the directions regarding such things as surface preparation, painting temperatures and painting tools are vital to a successful job.