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Refinish Your Hardwood Floors Without Finishing Off Your Savings

A shabby-looking floor can make a poor first impression, especially if the wood boards are worn, scratched and have seen better days. However, replacing your flooring can cost a small fortune, particularly when you hire a contractor. If you're not ready or willing to part with so much cash in one go, consider sprucing up your floors yourself by making smaller changes. The following tips will give your floor a new life.

1. Cut a rug. If you're not in love with your hardwood floors, consider using a throw rug to liven up a room. Choose rugs that complement the color of the walls or opt for fun, vibrant patterns. When selecting a rug, choose one that is two feet shorter than the smallest wall in the room. You don't want the rug to be disproportionate with the rest of the room.

2. Paint the floor. If a throw rug just won't add enough color for your floor, consider painting it. Stick with a single bold color to cover the entire floor or get creative and use a variety of patterns and shades. Don't just use any paint for the floor, though; consult with your favorite paint store as to which type of paint to use. Paint used on concrete floors, for example, might not work as well on hardwood floors with a special finish.

3. Wax off, wax on. When it comes to waxing your floors, take Mr. Miyagi's sage advice, but in reverse. Wax off any old wax buildup already on your floor, then clean the floors before adding the new coat of wax. A highly-polished and newly-waxed floor will give your room a fresh shine; just rope off the room after waxing to avoid anyone from falling.

4. Say it with stencils. If you're not willing to paint your entire floor, consider using stencils to create eye-catching designs. Head to your nearest teachers' store and load up on oversized stencils featuring flowers, fun shapes or whimsical designs. After cleaning your floor, trace and fill in the stencil designs with acrylic paint. For an artistic flair, use different colors of paint within each design.

5. Get rid of scratches. Do you like your hardwood floor but have some unsightly scratches in a few boards? Remove scratches to give your floors a clean, new look. Get steel wool and a solvent, rub it with the grain and wipe with a damp cloth. It provides a great new look for your floor while also removing the blemishes.

6. Stain your floors. Give your hardwood floors a new look by staining them. After cleaning the floors and removing dust, stain with a rag or paint roller. Consult your local hardware store for advice in selecting an appropriate stain, as each variation of hardwood flooring will require a particular type of stain. Use a polyurethane finish when the stain is dry to create a smooth, glossy look.

7. When in doubt, distract the eye. Do you have such a battered floor that improving it seems like too daunting of a task? Consider using stage tricks to draw attention to other parts of the room. Hang oversized paintings on the walls and use curtains in bright colors that complement the color of the walls. If you have a particularly stubborn stain or scratch on your floor, try covering it up with a piece of furniture, a floor lamp or a small rug.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I'm a Trader Joe's Fan. Her work can be found at

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