How To Refinish Wood Floor

Woody Jackson | Last modified on January 27th, 2022

Wood flooring has always been a popular choice for homeowners; however, it can start to look dated after years of use. But don’t worry! Refinishing your wood floors can be a quick and easy way to give them a fresh new look. Over time, finishes wear off and need attention – this is where refinishing comes in handy. In this article, we will go over what refinishing your wood floors entails and how you can do it yourself with the help of an experienced contractor.

Refinishing Wood Floors: A Step By Step Guide

What Does Refinishing Wood Floors Mean?

Refinishing wood floors simply means restoring a stained or worn down finish to the wood’s natural grain and bringing back its original color. It also includes finishing the seams and edges. Though there are other options, such as sanding down to bare wood or refinishing concrete, we will be focusing on how to refinish hardwood floors since they are the most popular choice for home renovations, both commercial and residential.

A common misconception is that you can only refinish hardwood floors with oil or stain. Although these are two popular options, others – such as varnishes and polyurethanes, can achieve the same results. Whatever your budget and technique, there is nothing wrong with refinished wood floors!

It’s also important to note that refinishing your wood floor may not be necessary for most homeowners. Most of us just flip a switch and walk on our hardwood floors every day without even giving them a second thought. But, your floors may have suffered since they were installed back in the day. Over time, finishes wear off and need to be reapplied. Refinishing can help you restore your hardwood floors to their original beauty while making them easier to maintain.

How do I refinish wood floors?

There are a few ways to refinish your floor. Since our goal is to walk on the refreshed hardwood floor as soon as possible, we will be focusing on the most popular method – sanding down to bare wood. When you have no other choice but to refinish your wood floor, sanding it down may be the best option for you. Besides, sometimes sanding down works better than painting or staining anyway! Here’s how it goes:

Start by removing all furniture from the room and covering all carpets with drop cloths. Remove all carpeting and linoleum from the floor as well. You’ll need to rent a floor sander for this step if you don’t own one already. 

Sand down the entire hardwood floor using medium grit sandpaper (120-220) for approximately 15 minutes per square foot. Be sure to wear proper protective clothing, a dust mask to keep you safe from airborne particles, and goggles to protect your eyes. Once you have sanded down the entire area, vacuum all excess dust created during sanding. 

Now it’s time for the fun part! You can choose between oil-based or water-based stains or coatings. Depending on where you are starting from and choosing a stain or coating, determine which option will work best for your floor. For example, water-based stains are best applied in small scoops at room temperature.

Oil-based stains are best used to bare wood panels and then allowed to dry overnight. Stain and coating can be applied by simple brush application (for oil-based) or sprayer and roller for water-based stain or coating. Rental companies may also be able to help you spread the finish of your choice and provide you with any necessary equipment such as rollers, spreaders, stain guns, etc.

The refinishing process can be completed in as little as a few hours, depending on how large your room is and how many square feet you have to work with. Once the finish dries, you can begin to apply furniture again – just make sure to leave it covered at all times or choose different furniture that has a smooth finish.

What if I need something more permanent?

If you are not comfortable sanding down your wood floors or want to make them more durable, applying finishes is the way to go! Just remember that when applying coats of stain or varnish, be very careful not to allow them to dry until they are completely dry. Any water that is left on the floor can cause damage to your floor.

Is refinishing wood floors a good idea?

If you are considering refinishing your floor, it may be a good idea to learn as much as you can about the options first. The beauty of refinishing hardwood floors is that you get to use each piece of wood’s natural characteristics. If you were to stain your wood floors, you will have a unique look and feel to your house.

The type of finish you choose will also depend heavily on the particular room’s wood species. For example, if you want a smooth surface with no chance for grooves or knots, then staining may be the best option in terms of durability and style. But if your floor is made from knotty maple or mahogany, then sanding down to bare wood might be more appropriate.


Can I Stain My Wood Floors?

Most people think you can’t stain a floor that has no finish. But, you can, and it’s very easy to do! Here’s how: Start by planning where you will be applying the finish (and plan to use a drop cloth to protect your furniture), and start with the hardwood flooring first.
You will want to apply several coats of stain for each area of the room – and allow each coat to dry completely before applying another coat. Allow the first coat to dry overnight before applying a second coat, once again allowing each coat to dry completely before applying another coat.

How Do I Know If A Wood Floor Has Been Refinished?

Most of the time, you will be able to tell if a floor has been recently refinished by looking for the finish. If you want to make sure, try this simple test:
Start by applying a drop cloth on your floors and furniture – and then use water to either side of your wood panels. Since water is absorbed by solid wood, it will be absorbed in high amounts on unfinished wood floors. Once you have applied the water, wait about 5-10 minutes and wipe dry with a clean cloth. If the area remains damp, then it is likely that your wooden floors are still in need of a refinishing process. If the test left a wet or dry spot, it means that your floor has been refinished.

What Types Of Wood Are Best For Refinishing?

There are several types of wood that are appropriate for refinishing. The best choices for refinishing floors include hard maple, pine, and oak. If you choose to refinish other wood species, such as cedar or mahogany, be sure to select the hardest type of wood you can find.

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