How to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Anyone who has hardwood floors in their home knows that after several years of use, the finish can become dull, scratched, or worn completely away in places. This is especially true for high traffic areas, like around the kitchen table or near doors where people are coming and going regularly. Most of the time when this kind of wear and tear happens, people worry that their floors will never look as good as they once did. Fortunately, that is not the case, and this kind of damage can be fixed fairly easily if you know what you’re doing.

There are a few things you’ll need before proceeding if you plan on tackling this job yourself. Some of the things you may have laying around the garage already, like sandpaper, and dust masks. One of the main things that you’ll need that you probably don’t have is a buffer. You will absolutely want to rent a buffer from your local home store. If you don’t have a shop-vac, you might also want to look into renting that.

Here’s a more concise list of what you’ll need to refinish your floors:

  • Buffer
  • Shop-Vac
  • 180-grit Sandpaper
  • Oil or Water Based Polyurethane
  • Dust Mask and Booties
  • Respirator with Organic Vapor Canisters
  • Paintbrush
  • Long Handled Roller with ¼ inch Nap Cover

Step 1:

 

The first thing you’re going to want to do is remove all of the furniture from the room you’ll be refinishing and clean the floor really well. You can use a commercial floor cleaner, or make a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. Spray the floor down with your choice of cleaning solution and then wipe down the floor with a terrycloth mop, or an old towel.

 

Step 2:

Before sanding the rest of the floor, you’ll want to get the perimeter and any other hard to reach places by hand. You’ll need to sand any part of the floor that the buffer can’t easily access. Using your 180-grit sandpaper, sand about 4-6 inches out from the baseboard, making sure to sand with the grain. Sand each floorboard until the finish gets dull and forms a powder.  You may be tempted to use a sanding block, but I don’t recommend it because you might miss uneven spots in the floor.

Step 3:

Here’s where you’ll need that buffer you rented. Once you’ve sanded all the hard to reach spots and the perimeter, it’ll be time to sand the rest of the floor. Put your dust mask on, and stick a maroon buffing pad to the buffer. Buff the floor in a side to side motion, making sure to overlap your paths by about six inches. Keep the buffer moving at a constant rate to avoid sanding unevenly, and make sure to stop every five minutes or so to vacuum off the buffer pad. The dust buildup can cause it to sand unevenly or ineffectively, so you’ll need to vacuum it to keep your sanding consistent.

Step 4:

Take a break for 20 minutes or so to let the dust in the room settle, you’ve earned it after all that hard work with the buffer. Once the dust has settled, put a new filter in your vacuum and use the brush attachment to get up all of the dust.  Move with the direction of the floorboards so you can get any dust that has settled in the cracks between the boards. After vacuuming, dry-tack the floor with a microfiber cloth to get any final debris that the vacuum may have missed.

Step 5:

It’s finally time to start applying a new coat of finish! Put on your booties and respirator and grab your paintbrush to start the first phase of applying your finish. It’s very important that you start at the point farthest away from your exit door, you don’t want to paint yourself into the room.  Take your paintbrush and apply a 3-inch stripe around the baseboards. You’ll need to work quickly at this point, as you’ll have marks left over if you allow this stripe to dry before you apply polyurethane to the rest of the floor. Once you get to the ten minute mark it’s best to start on the middle and then do the rest of the perimeter as you get to it.

Step 6:

Now you’ll be finishing the rest of the room.  While the edge finish is still wet, pour a line of polyurethane in line with the grain. Only pour as much as you can spread out in about ten minutes. If it dries like that you’ll have a weird bump in the floor. Use your roller with the nap cover to spread out the finish, moving with the grain of the wood first, and then across it. Repeat this process until the whole floor is covered. Once you’re done, wait at least 3 hours before applying a second coat, and about a week before putting furniture back.

If you enjoy completing your own renovation projects, this can be a good weekend project as it needs to be completed pretty quickly once you start. If all of this sounds like a serious hassle, you can always call your local hardwood floor refinishing service  to revitalize the wood floors in your home. No matter who you get to do it, refinishing your floors is a must if you want to keep your hardwood floors looking nice. Most flooring companies recommend refinishing your floors at least once every two years to maintain their appearance. Staying on top of refinishing your floors can also help prevent scratching on your floors. If unattended to, scratching can permanently ruin a hardwood floor, and in serious cases require you to replace parts of the floor if not the whole thing.

Good luck with your floor refinishing project!