The Complete Homeowner's Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors



Hardwood floors are popular in today’s home for many reasons. Wood is classic and timeless. It fits into practically any decorating style. Quite frankly, it’s beautiful. Hardwood flooring is less susceptible to allergies, messes clean up quickly, and maintaining hardwood floors is easy. It’s a practical investment because even when it does need maintenance, hardwood floor refinishing breathes new life into your home. Unlike carpet, you generally don’t need a complete replacement of the product, but it depends on the condition of your floor.

When Does Your Hardwood Floor Need Refinishing?

Your floor takes a beating every day. Hardwood flooring does age. Fortunately, hardwood floors stand up well, but they do need to be refinished to maintain their beauty. When the floor starts to look worn and old, you can refinish the wood to bring it back to new. How can you tell if your floor needs refinishing, replacing or just polishing?

  • Does it have visible scratches and nicks?

  • Does is have a dull finish?

  • Is the coloring uneven?

  • When was the last time it was refinished?

  • Is the finish revived with some polishing?

For floors that older than 10 years, it’s likely it needs to be refinished. Most hardwood floors can be resanded quite a few times before needing to be replaced. You only need as little 1/32-inch of wood to refinish it. If your floor isn’t that thick, then it is time to replace it. Even engineered wood flooring can be refinished. It depends on the thickness of the veneer.

​If your floor has structural problems or termite damage, you are probably looking at replacing your floors. You can often replace under 30%, or about one-third, of the boards. If the damage to your wood is greater than that, you may need a full replacement. Refinishing damaged boards or wood just worsens the problem.

What Is the Process For Hardwood Floor Refinishing?

Refinishing a hardwood floor is a big job. Most of the process is preparing the floor. It does take time. You should start with a clean floor. Whether you buff or sand, you’re going to create a lot of dust. You’ll need to seal off doorways with plastic sheeting to contain the mess to the room where you’re working. You’ll also want a dust mask, ear protection and googles. You may even want to turn off your HVAC system when you’re working to keep dust from getting into the system and circulating through your home.

If the floors are only worn on the surface, you may be able to simply use a buffer to restore the topcoat. The floor buffing tool comes with different grits to improve the sheen of your floor. You must sweep and vacuum the dust and dirt between the grits. If your hardwood floor is waxed or cleaned with an oil soap, you must first remove the residue before buffing. Buffing doesn’t remove the wood surface. It’s a good option if the damage is only surface-deep.

Hardwood floor refinishing with a sander completely restores your damaged flooring. You can even change the color of the flooring by staining it before you apply the finisher. You’ll need to rent a drum sander for the majority of the floor and use a progression of grits to remove the finish. Start with a 40 grit, then use 60 grit and finally, finish with a 100-grit. You will also need a hand-held sander to remove the finish along the edges. The baseboards need to be removed.

Sanding the floor to remove the finish is probably the toughest part for a DIY-er. You can risk damaging your floors if you don’t know what you’re doing. The sander has to be kept moving to avoid gouging the floors. It’s very easy to take off too much of the wood’s surface with a sander. It’s recommended to have a professional do this work to protect your floors and home.

Once the floor is sanded, fill in cracks and make repairs to any damaged area before applying stain. Stain can dramatically change the look of the floor, making even a less expensive flooring appear even more luxurious and elegant. The stain must thoroughly dry before the finish can be applied. You will also need to make sure that the floor does not have any dust or dirt before applying the finish. You need to plan to apply two to three coats of finish before the floor is complete.

Professional floor refinishers have the education, training and equipment to handle the project well and keep your home from getting messy. It’s worth the investment in a professional company to take care of your hardwood floors.

Professional Craftsmanship for an Enduring Floor

Give your home the beauty of hardwood flooring that will last for generations when you refinish your floors for new life. Contact us for more information about hardwood floor refinishing.

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