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Lighten Up Cherry Hardwood Floors

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Well, if you listen by podcast, like Fred does in Massachusetts, we could answer your question as well. How can we help you, Fred?

    FRED: Hi, I’m a real estate broker. I have clients who just bought an eight year old home. And most of the floors are cherry. There’s probably about 3,000 square feet. And they would like to change the color; either lighten or darker.

    LESLIE: OK.

    FRED: And their first choice is to lighten it. However, they’ve heard that it always leak a pink cast. So I thought I’d check …

    LESLIE: It does.

    FRED: … and see if you have any suggestions.

    LESLIE: It does leave a pinkish hue. However, I mean that’s only because of the nature of cherry itself and also with red oak. But it does happen to have a very charming look to it as well. If you decide to do it, choose a stain that will enhance that reddish hue. Don’t go for, you know, a white tone where it’s pickled because that really does show a very pink tint. Basically – is the top sealed? It’s totally with urethane or sealant on it of some sort?

    FRED: Doesn’t appear to be. They – you know, they’re willing to remove whatever’s on there and there thinking, you know, and then they would stain it darker if that was their only option.

    LESLIE: Well, you can go lighter. Just make sure – if you can, take a piece – or if there’s an extra piece of planking laying around the house somewhere – and experiment with it. You know, remove the stain; strip it down; sand it as best you can; get to a raw wood surface and then just experiment with stain colors that you like just to see before you commit to the enormity of the floor.

    FRED: What’s your suggestion on how to lighten it? Do you bleach it?

    TOM: Well, you can bleach it but you may have an unpredictable result. That you’re going to have to do to bleach it is first of all you’re going to have to sand the whole thing. And considering it’s only eight years old it’s kind of a shame because you’re going to lose a lot of wear and tear there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And then, you know the bleaching process may or may not come out like you wish it to even if you get it all sanded off.

    LESLIE: That’s why you’ve got to practice.

    TOM: And then if it turns out that you don’t like the bleaching look, then what’s your other option? Well, you can go back to the original cherry look or you could try to add a darker stain and darken it up and even it up a little bit. But your options are pretty limited at that point.

    If it’s already finished and it just needs a buffing up, Fred, there’s a way that you can do that without stripping off the old finish. And that is you rent a floor buffer and a sanding screen. And it’s very easy to do. It’s really idiot proof. I’ve done it many times myself on a lot of the hardwood floors in my house because what that does it that just sort of takes off and roughs up the upper surface of the finish. And then you vacuum that up and you can go ahead and mop down a new coat of polyurethane without having very much mess at all.

    FRED: Sounds great. 

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