Hardwood Flooring: 10 Techniques for Hardwood Floor Refinishing

 All wood floors need refinishing and replacing eventually. The typical solution to a lackluster wood floor is to sand it down and restain it.

But did you know it is possible to revive your hardwood flooring without putting in the back-breaking work of sanding or staining it?

Save yourself the money and the trouble of completely refinishing your hardwood floors. If your floor just needs a little more shine, all you need to do is follow these easy steps, and your wood flooring will look new in no time. 

How Much Damage Is Too Much Damage?

The short answer to this question is it depends on the condition of your floors. Not all wood floors are in a condition to benefit from simple refinishing.

In some situations, it can end up costing just as much to refinish wood floors as to replace them. Refinishing a damaged wood floor is backbreaking work.

Take a thorough inventory of the damage your wood flooring has sustained. If you notice any of the following issues, it’s best to replace your floors.

Major Scratches

Minor surface scratches on your floor’s clear coating shouldn’t be any problem. Deep, embedded scratches from your pet’s claws or the time you tried to move your couch by yourself are a bigger issue.

If you have large scratches over an expansive area of your floor, you won’t be able to remove them by refinishing. Scratches that go into the wood boards are susceptible to water damage and need to be replaced.

Water Damage

Has your home suffered flood damage or plumbing issues? Then you may have water damage to your hardwood flooring. Water damage is a definite sign to replace your floors.

While engineered hardwood flooring and acrylic-infused flooring can stand up to water damage, standard hardwood flooring is vulnerable to stains, mold, and warping when it gets too wet.

What is acrylic-infused flooring? It’s real hardwood flooring infused with acrylic to make it more durable and resistant to damage. If you’re considering new hardwood floor installation, acrylic-infused flooring is a great investment.

Step By Step: How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Before you get started, you’ll need to remove all furniture and other items from the floor you plan to refinish. You will need to have access to the entire floor to do the job properly.

Moving everything to one side of the room, refinishing half the floor, and then moving everything and doing the other half will not work. You’ll get sawdust all over your possessions and end up leaving lap marks on your floor.

You’ll need the following tools for your refinishing project: a 3-inch paintbrush, paint roller with extender, a vacuum with a filter, a floor buffer, and a microfiber flat mop. Ready to get started?

Clean, Clean, Clean

Let’s talk about how to clean hardwood floors. Once the floor is empty, spray it with a cleaner intended for use on hardwood flooring. You can also make a 10:1 mixture of water and vinegar.

Mop the floor with your flat mop. If you encounter hard-to-clean areas, such as caked-on dirt, use a dull, putty knife to scrape it off. 

Got Moulding?

Before you start sanding, you need to remove the shoe base molding around the edges of the room. You can do this with a pry bar. Use a piece of scrap wood to avoid damaging the baseboards.

If your room doesn’t have shoe base molding, remove the base molding. You may be able to get away with leaving molding on, but you’ll have to exercise extreme caution while sanding.

Sand the Perimeter

Use sandpaper to sand down any grooves around the perimeter and corners of the room that the buffer may miss. It’s better to use sandpaper than a sanding block for this job. A sanding block won’t reach uneven areas of your floor.

Get Buffing

For this part, you will need a floor buffer with a maroon buffing pad. You’ll also want to put on a dust mask.

As you operate the buffer, move it across the floor following the direction of the grain. It’s important to overlap your passes by about six inches to avoid lap lines.

Always keep the buffer moving when it’s turned on. Although, you will want to stop every so often and vacuum the buffing pad. It will pick up a lot of sawdust along the way.

Vacuum Away

Allow some time for the sawdust from the buffing to settle back onto the floor, then use the felt attachment on your vacuum to remove the dust.

It’s important to vacuum the floor in both directions, with the grain, and against the grain. That will ensure you get the dust from between the floorboards.

When you’ve finished vacuuming, use your microfiber cloth to dry-tack the floors.

Corners First

To begin applying the polyurethane finish, you will want to protect your shoes as well as your lungs. Booties and a respirator will come in handy.

Use a filter to strain your finish into something that can pour evenly. A pitcher, carafe, or watering can without a sprinkler head is ideal.

Dip your paintbrush in the finish and begin painting a strip around the edges of the floor. You’ll want to get as close as possible to the baseboards. Do a small enough section that you can fill it in within ten minutes, so the edges don’t dry.

Poly Is Your Friend

When you’ve outlined an area of the floor to refinish, take your pitcher of polyurethane and pour it onto the floor. Pour it in a narrow line, following the grain. Then use your paint roller to spread the finish over the floor.

If you try to do too large of an area at once, you’ll end up leaving lap marks where wet poly came into contact with dry poly. Make sure you can finish the area within ten minutes to avoid early drying.

Always overlap your sections and leave a wet edge. Keep applying poly (edges first, then rolling) until the floor is completely covered.

Apply a second coat after three hours. Let the floor dry for a whole week before moving anything back into the room.

Refinishing or Replacing Hardwood Flooring: What’s the Best Investment?

Hardwood flooring is a stylish, classic flooring option for any home. If you’re debating whether to refinish or replace your hardwood floors, first take a look at their condition.

A few light scratches can be buffed out and covered with polyurethane. Deep gouges, water damage, and moving boards require replacement. Depending on the state of your floors, it’s possible to spend as much refinishing as replacing.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out Sandy’s other DIY blog posts next. Stay connected and follow @organizedsandy on Instagram and Facebook.


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