How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Adam Chronister Uncategorized September 27, 2022

Hardwood floors can often last a generation; they are a smart buy that needs maintenance just like everything else. It is completely normal to see some damage that has occurred over time on your gorgeous hardwood floors. But you don't always have to run out and buy brand-new hardwood flooring because of a few nicks and dings. Your hardwood floors most likely only need to be refinished.

There are a few warning signs that will let you know when it's time to refinish the hardwood floors. For instance, a refinish becomes necessary if your flooring has several scratches, the boards are beginning to turn grayish or change their color, or the wood has suffered some type of water damage.

Hardwood floor refinishing requires some time-consuming hard work, but it's worthwhile. It is an excellent way to give your room a brand-new appearance. This guide will take you through each step of the refinishing process, from preparing the floor for refinishing to applying the last coat of finishing product.

How to know if it's time for refinishing hardwood floors?

The state of your hardwood floors can be easily determined with a water droplet test. You will know the floor will have to be refinished if water droplets are splashed on it and immediately get absorbed into the surface. Whereas the solid hardwood floor might only require cleaning and polishing if water droplets gather on the floor without getting soaked in.

Let’s now look at how to refinish hardwood floors in detail.

1. Ready the floor for refinishing

Before you begin refinishing your hardwood floors, you need to prepare the hardwood floor for the process.

Follow these steps:

  • Remove any carpeting or rugs from the room and move the furniture.
  • Use a wood putty knife to sweep the floor in search of protruding nails and hammer them down.
  • Look for creaks and use finishing nails to fix any loose flooring.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner or mop to get rid of any debris on the wood floor.
  • Seal air vent coverings to stop sanding dust from entering your ducts, and seal the doorways with plastic sheeting to keep dust out of the rest of the house.

2. Sand the Hardwood Floor

You'll need a drum floor sander and an edge sander for this step. They can be found in a local hardware store. Put on a dust mask and eye protection before beginning to sand with 40-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper is extremely coarse and will remove heavy-duty damage, including dings, surface scratches, and old finish, and leave a rough texture behind.

Work in portions of three to four feet while sanding, following the wood's grain as you go. Continue moving slowly and steadily across the floor. Remember, stopping could leave persistent stains on the floor. You will also have to regularly inspect the sandpaper and replace it as soon as it appears worn out. On average, a 20-square-foot area can be covered by one piece of sandpaper. Furthermore, empty the sander's dust bag frequently. Maintaining it at less than half capacity will improve its performance.

Repeat the procedure using 60, 80, and finally 120 sandpaper on both the edge sander and the drum sander. Each round of sanding reveals a smoother surface with all patched cracks or fissures level with the floor surface.

3. Remove the dust.

The floor finish might develop flaws from dust and hair. So, clean and vacuum the wood floors thoroughly, and then use a dry cloth to remove any remaining dust.

  • Leave the space ideally for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the powder to settle.
  • Clean the vacuum filter before using it to sweep the surface with a felt-bottomed attachment.
  • To remove any powder that has accumulated between the boards, go in line with the floor stripes and then sweep across them.
  • Lastly, dry-tack the hardwood floor with a microfiber cloth or a tack cloth.

4. Stain the hardwood floor

The staining process is optional. Skip this step and continue with the polyurethane finishing if you wish to maintain the wood's natural color. But if you want a modern, dark floor, staining is necessary. But remember that your project will take an extra day or more to complete if you are going to stain the floors. To make sure you like the color you've chosen, test it on some scrap wood. Then, follow the instructions given on the can to apply the stain on the entire floor.

Tips for staining the hardwood floor:

  • Using a brush or sponge, apply stain while following the direction of the wood grain.
  • Before proceeding, wipe up any excess stain with a rag.
  • Stir the wood stain every ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Add as many coats as necessary to get the desired hue, letting each one dry in between.

5. Apply the finishing.

This is the last and most crucial step in refinishing wood floors. Your floors are sealed by this coating, which shields them from further harm. But you will have to wait till the stain has dried if you have stained the floors.

After that, use a vacuum to thoroughly clean the flooring. It is necessary because the finishing coat can trap debris, dust, or hair that might be present on the floor.

There are several different wood floor finishes available on the market—both water-based and oil-based varieties of polyurethane. Your floors will get a bright golden color from the oil-based polyurethane coating, but it takes longer to dry than a water-based coating. With a water-based polyurethane coating, the wood's natural color will be preserved, and it will also dry more quickly. You can pick either of the varieties based on your requirements. Open windows and make sure the space is adequately aired before applying the finish.

Tips for applying finishing on floors:

  • Start by painting the room's edge using a brush. Cover the floor by about 12 inches from the wall toward the middle of the room. Work along the grain of the wood.
  • After the perimeter has been covered, take a lamb's wool applicator and use it to cover the remaining areas of the room.
  • Keep in mind that you should move toward the exit. You won't be able to put your feet on the floor when you start applying the polyurethane.
  • Applying at least two coats in places with heavy traffic is highly recommended. Wait 24 hours before applying further coatings. You might have to wait longer depending on the weather, particularly the humidity.
  • Once you've applied the final coat, you're done!


Although this procedure may take some time to complete, it will be worthwhile when you see how gorgeous and shiny your hardwood floors will look, just as they did when they were new!

Once you are done with refinishing the floor and your home is shining with a lovely refinished floor, keep it that way by frequently cleaning and mopping it with furniture pads and being cautious while wearing shoes with hard soles.