Hardwood Floor Refinishers: A Step-by-Step Guide

6 min read

Although they might get worn out, dull, and scraped with time, hardwood floors can lend a sense of elegance and coziness to any house. Your hardwood floors' lifespan may be increased and their beauty restored with refinishing. This tutorial will provide you all the information you need to refinish your floors like an expert, regardless of whether you're a do-it-yourself enthusiast or just want to save some cash.

Why Refinish Your Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floor refinishers offer several benefits:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Over time, floors can lose shine and become dull. Refinishing restores their original beauty.
  2. Cost-Effective: Refinishing is cheaper than replacing the entire floor.
  3. Longevity: Proper maintenance and refinishing can extend the life of your hardwood floors by decades.
  4. Increased Home Value: Well-maintained floors can significantly increase the value of your home.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Floor sander (rent or purchase)
  • Edge sander
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Tack cloth
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Paintbrushes and rollers
  • Painter’s tape
  • Protective gear (gloves, masks, goggles)

Preparing Your Floor

Preparation is key to a successful refinishing job. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Clear the Room: Remove all furniture, rugs, and other items.
  2. Clean the Floor: Sweep and vacuum thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
  3. Inspect for Damage: Check for loose boards, nails, or gaps and repair them as needed.
  4. Protect Adjacent Areas: Use painter’s tape to cover baseboards and adjacent walls.

Sanding the Floor

Sanding is the most critical part of the refinishing process. It removes the old finish and smooths out imperfections.

  1. Choose the Right Sandpaper: Start with a coarse grit (around 36-40) to remove the old finish, then move to medium (60-80) and fine (100-120) grits for smoothing.
  2. Sand with the Grain: Always sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid scratches.
  3. Edge Sanding: Use an edge sander for areas the main sander can’t reach.
  4. Vacuum and Tack Cloth: After sanding, vacuum the entire area and wipe with a tack cloth to remove all dust.

Cleaning Up After Sanding

Thoroughly cleaning after sanding is crucial to ensure a smooth finish.

  1. Vacuum Again: Vacuum the entire room, including walls and ceiling, to remove any remaining dust.
  2. Wipe Down Surfaces: Use a damp cloth to wipe down all surfaces, including the floor, walls, and windowsills.

Applying the Stain

Staining adds color and enhances the natural beauty of the wood.

  1. Choose Your Stain: Select a wood stain that matches your desired color.
  2. Test the Stain: Apply a small amount in an inconspicuous area to test the color.
  3. Apply Evenly: Use a brush or rag to apply the stain evenly, working with the grain.
  4. Wipe Off Excess: Wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth after a few minutes.

Finishing Touches: Sealing the Floor

Sealing protects the wood and gives it a beautiful finish.

  1. Choose a Finish: Polyurethane is popular choice for its durability and ease of application.
  2. Apply the First Coat: Use a brush or roller to apply the first coat of polyurethane. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Sand Between Coats: Lightly sand the floor with fine-grit sandpaper between coats for a smooth finish.
  4. Apply Additional Coats: Apply at least two more coats, allowing each to dry thoroughly.

Drying and Curing Time

Patience is essential during the drying and curing process.

  1. Initial Drying: Allow the final coat to dry for at least 24 hours before walking on the floor.
  2. Full Curing: Complete curing can take up to a month. Avoid placing heavy furniture or rugs on the floor during this time.

Post-Refinishing Maintenance

Maintaining your newly refinished floor is crucial for longevity.

  1. Regular Cleaning: Sweep and vacuum regularly to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Avoid Water: Keep water and moisture away from the floor to prevent damage.
  3. Protective Pads: Use felt pads under furniture legs to avoid scratches.
  4. Reapply Finish: Depending on traffic, you may need to reapply a finish every few years to maintain the shine.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure a successful refinishing job:

  1. Skipping Sanding Steps: Skipping grits or not sanding enough can result in an uneven finish.
  2. Not Cleaning Properly: Dust and debris can ruin the finish if not thoroughly cleaned before applying stain and sealer.
  3. Rushing the Process: Allow adequate drying and curing times to avoid a tacky or uneven surface.
  4. Using the Wrong Tools: Ensure you have the right tools for the job, as using the wrong ones can lead to poor results.


Hardwood floor refinishers can be a rewarding DIY project that breathes new life into your home. By following this step-by-step guide, you can achieve professional-looking results and enjoy beautiful, durable floors for years to come.


1. How often should I refinish my hardwood floors?

It depends on the amount of foot traffic and wear. Generally, every 7-10 years is recommended.

2. Can I refinish engineered hardwood floors?

Yes, but it depends on the thickness of the top veneer. If it’s thick enough, you can sand and refinish it like solid hardwood.

3. Is it necessary to remove all the furniture from the room?

Yes, to ensure a thorough job and prevent any damage to your belongings, it’s best to clear the room completely.

4. How long does the Hardwood floor refinishers process take?

The entire process, including drying and curing, can take about a week, depending on the size of the area and drying times.

5. What is the best type of finish for high-traffic areas?

Oil-based polyurethane is highly durable and ideal for high-traffic areas, although it takes longer to dry compared to water-based finishes.

By following this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to successfully refinish your hardwood floors, ensuring they look stunning and last for many more years. Happy refinishing!

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Brielle 2
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