how to refinish hardwood floors

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to any home, but they can wear out after some years, losing their lustrous appearance. When this happens, you can refinish the floors to bring back their shine.

What You’ll Need:

  • Wide brooms
  • Light and heavy sandpaper variety
  • Brushes
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Floor sanders and edger
  • Rags
  • Vacuum
  • Wood stain
  • Gloves
  • Rollers (preferably long-handled types)
  • Trash bags
  • Masking tape


You have to prepare the floor and the whole room before you start this. Really read this check list to understand the amount of work involved, it will help you plan out your job as far as time needed. Here are some tips:

  • Clear the room. Furniture, wall hangings, rugs, carpet, décor, and window treatments must all be gone.
  • Cover your light fixtures with trash bags and masking tape.
  • Shoe moulding must also be removed, but baseboards can stay, unless you plan on replacing them.
  • Vent ducts, electrical outlets and light switches must be taped.
  • Seal the room from other areas of the house by hanging up plastic sheeting. Cracks under doors must be covered with masking tape.
  • To remove debris and dirt, vacuum the floor before you begin sanding.
  • See if there are tacks, carpet staples and nails and remove them. They can rip the sandpaper and ruin the sheet.

Sandingsanding a wood floor

To bring back the grain and level the floor, you’ll have to sand it properly. You’ll need to do several passes, to get a smooth finish. Before you begin, properly ventilate the room by opening a window.

  1. Rent a drum sander from an equipment rental shop. It’s large and noisy, but very efficient, since it can remove plenty of material quickly. Remember that you can easily gouge the floor with this tool, so be careful. Start it while it’s not in contact with the floor or tilted. If it’s your first time to use it, try it on a sheet of plywood first. Keep it moving, working slowly, but allowing the machine to do its job.
  2. Start sanding while in the middle of the room. Make sure you sand with the grain, going from one end of the room to another. You can overlap passes by one or two inches. Repeat the procedure on the other part of the room, sanding the whole center.
  3. When you’re through with the main floor area, use an edge sander to sand the areas the drum sander didn’t reach. A detail sander or hand sand can help you reach corners.
  4. When you’re done with the whole floor, vacuum and repeat the process with a smaller grit sandpaper. Vacuum in between sandpaper changes. Finish by using a 120 grit sandpaper.
  5. When you’re done, vacuum again, then wipe with a dry rag.


If you want the floor to keep its natural tone, you can skip this part, but if you want to give it a better hue, here’s what you should do.

  1. Use a floor broom to brush away the sawdust.
  2. Get a tack rag or vacuum to pick up finer dust particles. If the floor looks cleaner, the better the finish looks.
  3. Using a rag, apply wood stain to an obscure part of the floor, such as at the back of a closet, to see if its the right one you want. Wait for five minutes, allowing the stain to dry. If you like the color, proceed.
  4. Put the first coat to the rest of your floor. For more controlled and lighter applications, use rags. For a darker and heavier coat, a brush is better. Go with the grain as you apply long and even strokes.
  5. Let the first coat dry. If necessary, apply a second coat.
  6. Before you move on to applying the finish, make sure the stain is thoroughly dry.


Putting On The Finish

  1. Stir the polyurethane finish first. Don’t shake, or air bubbles might show up in the final finish.
  2. Apply it on the floor with a roller or brush, using even and smooth strokes with the grain. This will prevent putting marks on the finish.
  3. Let the finish dry. This can take up to three hours.
  4. Add a second coat. Let it dry overnight. After three days, you can move the rugs and furniture back on the floor.

Refinishing hardwood floors is messy and challenging, but definitely worth it. Keep these tips in mind as you proceed with this chore.

Posted in DIY

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