How to Refinish Wood Floors- Step By Step Guide

Many homeowners love to stick with the same flooring in their residences. In most cases, once you have installed wood flooring, it will last lifelong without any prior maintenance. But the coating on the wood tends to scuff, dull, and discolored over time.

If it’s of 70’s flooring, probably the coating you have done with wax, aged varnish, or the shellac. It would be tough to shine out that kind of old flooring. You may try polyurethane finish to refinish the surface, but that will fade out. So, you may need to sand the floor first. Then, applying wax (at least once a year) on it can be fruitful.

You can get more new information about refinishing wood floors in this article.

Solid hardwood, laminate or parquet, whatever flooring you have, can be refinished.

Types of Finishes for Refinish

It’s essential to know the types of finishes applicable to wood floors. The standard types of finishes are polyurethane, varnish, and penetrating sealer.

Polyurethane finish gives the floor a plastic-like look. It is usually an oil or water-based finish. If your basement has heavy traffic and high moisture, you should apply this finish.

Varnish can bring various lusts to the wood surfaces. You can choose matte or glossy varnish at different levels. Many users have found that high gloss lusters last more time.

The penetrating sealer is for the people who love to carve out the natural looks of wood. It protects the hardwood floors well when you wax them. However, it may not last long like previous ones.

How to Refinish

How to Refinish

It’s not harder as you are thinking till now. Follow the below simple steps to energize the old wood floors:


Arrange all the necessary tools

You should arrange different useful tools and materials to refinish the wood floors. Here is the list of these tools:

  • Protection mask
  • Hand gloves
  • Knee pads
  • Liquid floor cleaner
  • Synthetic steel wool or scouring pads
  • Paintbrushes
  • Putty knife
  • Prybar
  • Dry vacuums
  • Disc and orbital sanders
  • Sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Polyurethane Wood Finish
  • Wood fillers


Keep floors ready

You should prep the area to work stress-free and get the best out of it. Remove all the carpets, furniture, mats, etc. from the floor. Wear a protective mask, hand gloves, and knee pads during the whole task.

You can remove the protruding nails or hammer them down. A putty knife can help you with this.

Clean the dust, debris from the floor. You can use a vacuum cleaner to vac the area. Cover any vent from the dust that might be creating while doing the project. Once you have done these, you should perform a water droplet test as a suggestion. It ensures if the floor is ready for the operation or not.

Sprinkle few droplets of water on the floor. If it soaks instantly, then the fibers of the wood may be exposed. It is the right time to refinish the old wood floors.


Use the prybar

Pull the shoe base molding with the help of the prybar. It is the area where the floor connects to the wall. Remember to use a scrap wood bar or piece to maintain the health of the baseboard. Then use a pencil to mark the parts you remove with alphabets or numbers. It will help you to insert the pieces again in the correct chronology. If your room has no shoe base molding, then use4 the sanders carefully.


Sand the floor roughly

Day by day, wood floors get scratches and stubborn stains. The right solution to the problem can be using a quality sander. It can remove the discolor or distorted patches of the surface. It also develops the quality of deepest gouges.

You can start with a drum sander (or belt sander) to sand the floor. Move the sander with the grains along wood boards length. Try to move it back and forth by maintaining 3- or 4-feet lengths. You can use belt sander in such a manner that strokes get overlapped with each other.

Take the coarse sandpaper of minimum grit of 40 or medium 60-grit. Then start scrubbing the area with low to medium grit sandpapers gradually. Already, you may have a smooth surface. If that does not make sense, then complete scrubbing with fine 100 grit sandpaper.

Change the sandpapers every time after about 200-250sq—feet area. There will be lots of dust and debris after using the sandpapers or sanders. Use the dry vacuum cleaner to clean them.


Take care of edges

Sometimes drum or orbital sanders skip touching the nooks and crannies of the wood floor. You can use a portable orbital sander to reach the cracks, edges, and tight areas. Usually, bathrooms or stairs need a retouch of these hand-held sanders.

Before you start using a portable sander, do a practice first. You can use synthetic steel wool to take care of the edges.


Screen sand the wood surface

It is time to use a floor buffer. A fine grit screening pad should be inserted in the device. Swing the device from right to left or left to right.

Floor buffer buffs away the scratches after sanding with sanders.

Screen sanding helps to make the surface even after using sander or sandpaper. It will give you professional screening results.


Clean the dust

Clean the floor again to avoid any imperfection during floor refinish. Sweep the floor with soft cleaning rags. Then vacuum the whole area with the vacuum cleaner.


Use wood stain on the surface

Many of us want to change or improve the color and contrast of the upper surface of the wood floors. You can apply a wood stain to do this. You can apply interior wood stain according to your preferences. Also, make sure it matches the floor type.

Use a foam applicator pad to change the color. Move the pad in the wood grain direction. Keep the same distance cover while staining the surface like 3-4 sq. feet. Some experts suggest using paper towels or cotton cloth wrapper around applicator pads. It can help you to remove excess stain. After staining, take the time to let it dry.

You can also use a sanding sealer if you do not like to stain.


Application of the finish

You should choose such a wood finish that can protect the surface. Here are a few factors you need to keep in mind while selecting the finish:

  • You need to apply the finish faster if it is water-based polyurethane. It dries more quickly which brings redundancies during operation.
  • If you love to do it consuming enough time, choose an oil-based polyurethane finish.
  • Use wood oils to shine the floors. These oils can be teak, tung, cedar, or mineral oils applicable to wood.

You can use lamb’s wool applicator to apply the finish. Apply three coats of it oil-based polyurethane. You should apply one more coat to apply a water-based finish. After each coat you apply, sand the surface gently with a fine-grit sandpaper.

Usually, one coat of finish takes a day to dry. After sanding, vacuum the whole area. When all the coating is done, reattach the shoe base molding.

Now, you have completed refinishing the wood floors.


Refinishing wood floors of a standard size home may take 4-7 days. You should be careful about doing each step mentioned earlier. Try to keep the areas clean while you sand and refinish the wood floor. After completing the refinish, bring back the furniture and other things to the right place.

Keep the materials and necessary tools in a safe place. Always cover your face and body to skip any unwanted problems.

However, refinishing wood floors is simple and easy to do. You can do it your own following above steps.

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