Preparing To Refinish Your Floors: How to Refinish Floors While Living in the House

By Cezar

Hardwood floors have a number of advantages, one of which is that they can be refinished multiple times throughout their lifespan. During floor refinishing, the top layer of your hardwood is sanded off, leaving unfinished wood flooring beneath. This floor can then be stained and a new finish applied.

There are many reasons you might need to refinish your hardwood floors. Whether it’s to repair the damage, to change the stain, or just as part of your regular maintenance process, you might find yourself needing to renew your floor’s finish.

Before it’s time to sand the floors, many homeowners ask: “Can I stay in my house while my floors are refinished?” The answer is usually yes.

If you’d like to read about the best ways to prepare for and manage the refinishing process, read on!

How To Prepare Your House For Floor Refinishing

Before you refinish, there’s some prep you need to get out of the way.

First, make sure that you completely clear the area that you are going to refinish. This means removing everything from your floor, including furniture, carpets, and anything else in the way. We’ll come back to furniture in a second.

Next, you’ll want to do some prep to help your space handle the refinishing. Tape up any vents or other openings with electrical tape. You’ll probably also want to remove the base moulding. If you’ve done any work on your floor since the last time you finished it, make sure that any nails or other sharp objects have been removed.

Lastly, you might want to hang some plastic to isolate the spaces you’ll be refinishing from the rest of the house. This can help control the movement of dust.

Why You Need To Move Furniture

While moving furniture can be a hassle, especially if you’re sanding an entire floor, it’s a necessity when refinishing. You or your contractor won’t be able to get anything done with the furniture in the way, and it isn’t possible to work around it. You’ll get the best results if you completely remove your furniture from the space until the work is complete.

If you don’t have room to accommodate your furniture during refinishing, you’ll need to move out of the house until the job is done.

Refinishing Challenges

It’s usually possible to remain in your home as the refinishing is completed. Here are some of the challenges you’ll want to keep in mind and try to mitigate during the process:

  • Noise: Whether you or a contractor are operating them, heavy-duty sanders can produce a lot of noise! This can easily disturb you, your family, or your pets. The best solution to this problem is to be out of the house as much as possible when the sanding occurs or to distribute hearing protection. Pets should be placed in an area distant from where the sanding is occurring and monitored to make sure they stay calm.
  • Dust: Sanding can produce a huge amount of dust, particularly if you’re refinishing a large area. The best way to mitigate this is with an experienced contractor with good equipment, but you can also try to put up plastic to isolate the areas to be refinished from the rest of your home.
  • Odour: Possibly the most difficult aspect of the refinishing process for most people to tolerate is the application of the actual finish itself. Some can off-gas enough to make you feel seriously ill. If you plan on remaining in your home while refinishing, try to find a low-odour and low-VOC product you can use and move your sleeping area as far away as possible.


As you can ask anyone who’s stayed in the house during refinishing, it’s not necessarily fun! However, with a little preparation many of these issues can be overcome. Particularly for small refinishing jobs, staying in the house is significantly easier than finding another place to live, and cheaper too!