Refinishing Waxed Hardwood Floors – How to Remove the Old Wax and Polish

By Cezar

Refinishing waxed hardwood floors is an essential process that helps to restore the natural beauty and shine of your flooring. Over time, hardwood floors can become dull and scratched due to heavy foot traffic, spills, and exposure to sunlight. Waxing is a common method used to protect wood from these elements. However, after some time, the wax can build up on the surface, making it difficult for new coats to adhere properly.

Thus, refinishing waxed hardwood flooring involves removing the old wax layer and applying a new coat of wax or sealer to restore its original shine. This not only makes your floors look brand new but also enhances their durability and longevity.

Moreover, refinishing your hardwood floors also improves indoor air quality by eliminating dust particles that may have accumulated over time. Dust can cause respiratory problems for people with allergies or asthma.

Assessing the Floor Surface

Assessing the floor surface is an important step in refinishing waxed hardwood floors. Before starting any work, check for any damages or areas that need repair. Look for minor scratches, dents, and stains that may require extra attention.

If there are deep scratches or gouges, use wood filler to fill them in and sand them smoothly. For stains, apply a wood bleach solution and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off.

It’s also important to check the level of the floor. If there are any uneven spots, you may need to sand them down or use a levelling compound to ensure a smooth surface.

Taking the time to assess the floor surface will help ensure that your refinishing project goes smoothly and that you achieve the desired results. Don’t rush this step as it can greatly impact the overall outcome of your project.

Identifying Areas with Deep Scratches or Damage

Once you have determined the type of finish on your hardwood floor, it’s time to identify areas with deep scratches or damage. You can do this by closely inspecting the surface of your wood floors and taking note of any noticeable flaws.

Deep scratches can be identified by their length and width, while damage may include dents or gouges. These areas require special attention during refinishing to ensure that they are properly repaired.

One way to address deep scratches is by using wood filler. Simply apply the filler to the affected area and smooth it out with a putty knife. After allowing it to dry, sand the spot until it’s level with the surrounding floor.

For larger damaged areas, you may need to replace individual boards or enlist the help of a professional. Once all repairs have been made, you can proceed with refinishing your waxed hardwood floors for a like-new appearance.

Preparing the Room

Before beginning the refinishing process, it’s important to properly prepare the room to ensure a successful outcome. Start by removing all furniture and decor from the space, including rugs and curtains.

Next, thoroughly clean the floors with a vacuum or broom and mop to remove any debris or dirt. It’s important that the surface is completely clean before applying any new finish.

If you’re working with an oil-based finish, be sure to open windows or use fans for proper ventilation as the fumes can be strong. Additionally, cover any nearby vents or openings to prevent dust from entering other areas of your home.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to wear protective clothing such as gloves and goggles during refinishing to avoid contact with chemicals or flying debris.

Taking these steps will ensure that your room is ready for refinishing your waxed wood floors and provide a safe environment for you during the project.

Covering Doorways with Plastic Sheeting

Another important step in refinishing waxed hardwood floors is to cover doorways with plastic sheeting to contain dust and debris. This will prevent the dust from spreading throughout your home and causing unnecessary mess and cleanup. Simply tape plastic sheeting or drop cloths over the doorway, making sure to completely cover the opening. You can also use a zippered doorway to make it easier to move in and out of the room while still keeping the area contained. Taking this precaution will not only reduce the amount of cleaning you’ll need to do later, but it will also help protect other parts of your home from damage caused by sanding and refinishing materials. By following these simple steps, you can successfully refinish your waxed hardwood floors without any added hassle or stress.

Tips for Sanding a Floor

The next step in the refinishing process is sanding. This process involves using a floor sander to remove the old wax finish and reveal the bare wood underneath. It’s important to start with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to a finer grit, as this will help achieve a smooth and even surface. Be sure to wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a dust mask while sanding to avoid inhaling harmful particles or getting debris in your eyes. Once the sanding is complete, use a vacuum or broom to remove any remaining dust and debris before moving on to the next step of applying a new stain or finish. Sanding is an essential part of the refinishing process that should not be overlooked, as it helps prepare the surface for optimal adhesion of new finishing materials.

How to Refinish Waxed Hardwood Floors

Replacing Sandpaper Regularly to Maintain Effectiveness

When refinishing waxed hardwood floors, it’s important to use sandpaper that is effective and in good condition. Sandpaper that is worn or clogged with dust will not only slow down the refinishing process but can also damage the surface of your floors.

To maintain the effectiveness of your sandpaper, it’s recommended that you replace it regularly. The frequency of replacement will depend on how much use your sandpaper gets, but as a general rule, it’s a good idea to replace it after every 100 square feet of flooring.

You can tell when your sandpaper needs to be replaced by checking for signs of wear and tear. If the paper looks shiny or has become thin in spots, it’s time for a new sheet. Additionally, if you notice that the sanding process is taking longer than usual or isn’t producing the desired results, this could be an indication that your sandpaper needs to be replaced.

Replacing your sandpaper regularly will ensure that you achieve a smooth finish on your waxed hardwood floors. It may require a bit more effort and expense upfront, but in the long run, it will save you time and money by preventing damage to your floors and reducing the need for additional refinishing work.

Renting a Drum Sander

If you’re planning to refinish your waxed hardwood floors, renting a drum sander is a cost-effective option. Drum sanders are powerful machines that can quickly remove the old wax finish and prepare the surface for a new stain or finish. When renting a drum sander, it’s important to choose the right one for your project and follow all safety precautions. Make sure to wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a dust mask while using the machine. Also, be aware of the type of sandpaper needed for your specific floor type and choose the appropriate grits for each stage of sanding. Renting a drum sander can save you time and money compared to hiring a professional, but it’s important to do your research and follow proper techniques to ensure successful results.

Sanding in Small Sections at a Time

Sanding your waxed hardwood floors is a big job that can be overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once. Instead, it’s best to sand in small sections at a time. This will help you achieve a more even finish and prevent you from wearing yourself out too quickly.

Start by dividing your room into manageable sections, such as one corner or one wall. Use painter’s tape to mark off the area and focus on sanding that section before moving on to the next one. This will ensure that you don’t miss any spots or accidentally sand too much in one area.

When sanding each section, start with coarse-grit sandpaper and work your way up to finer grits. Be sure to vacuum up any dust or debris before moving on to the next section. Sanding in small sections may take longer, but it will result in a better overall finish and prevent you from getting overwhelmed by the project.

Sanding your waxed hardwood floors can be a daunting task, but breaking it down into smaller sections can make it more manageable. Take your time and focus on each section individually for the best results.

Edging and Detail Sanding

When refinishing waxed hardwood floors, it’s important to pay attention to the edges and details of the room. These areas require special care and attention to ensure a smooth finish.

To tackle edging and detail sanding, you’ll need to use specialized tools such as an edger sander or a hand-held detail sander. These tools allow you to reach tight spaces and corners that cannot be accessed with a larger floor sander.

Start by sanding around the perimeter of the room with an edger sander. This will help create a smooth transition between the newly sanded floor and the existing baseboard. Use caution when working near walls and avoid damaging them with the sander.

Next, switch to a hand-held detail sander to tackle any remaining intricate details such as stair treads or mouldings. Be sure to use fine-grit sandpaper for these areas as they can easily become damaged if too much material is removed.

By taking your time with edging and detail sanding, you can achieve a professional-looking finish on your waxed wood floors. Don’t rush this step as it can make all the difference in the overall appearance of your newly refinished floors.

What to Do With Your Remaining Finish

To ensure a smooth and even finish when refinishing wooden floors, it’s important to remove any remaining finish before proceeding with staining or sealing. Steel wool is an effective tool for this task.

Begin by cleaning the floor thoroughly and allowing it to dry completely. Then, take a piece of fine-grade steel wool (such as 0000) and rub it gently over the surface of the floor in a circular motion. Be sure to wear gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling dust particles.

Continue working in small sections until all areas have been covered. Afterward, vacuum up any debris or dust left behind.

Using steel wool will help strip away any remaining finish, revealing the natural beauty of your hardwood floors. It’s a simple but effective step that should not be overlooked when refinishing your floors.

Refinishing Waxed Hardwood Floors

Cleaning Up Debris

Once you have finished refinishing your waxed hardwood floors, it’s important to clean up any debris left behind. This will help ensure a smooth and polished final result.

Begin by vacuuming the entire area to remove any dust or dirt that may have accumulated during the refinishing process. Use a soft-bristled brush attachment to avoid scratching the newly refinished surface.

Next, use a damp mop or cloth to wipe down the floor, removing any residual dust or debris. Avoid using excessive water, as this can cause damage to the newly refinished surface.

Finally, allow the floor to dry completely before moving furniture back into place or walking on it. This will prevent any scratches or scuffs from occurring while the surface is still wet.

By taking these simple steps to clean up debris after refinishing your waxed hardwood floors, you can enjoy a beautiful and long-lasting finish for years to come.

Vacuum Cleaning for Smaller Particles

Vacuum cleaning is an effective way to remove smaller particles such as dust and debris from your workspace. When cleaning up sawdust and wood chips, a regular household vacuum may not be enough to capture all the tiny particles.

Investing in a vacuum designed explicitly for woodworking or construction can make a big difference in the cleanliness of your workspace. These vacuums often have stronger suction power and specialized filters that can trap even the smallest particles.

When using a vacuum, it’s important to choose the right attachment for the job. A crevice tool or brush attachment can help you reach into corners and tight spaces where debris tends to collect.

Be sure to empty your vacuum’s canister or replace its bag frequently to ensure maximum suction power. And always follow manufacturer instructions for maintenance and care of your vacuum.

By incorporating vacuum cleaning into your woodworking routine, you can achieve a cleaner and safer workspace with less effort.


Refinishing waxed hardwood floors is important because it helps protect the wood from wear and tear. It also seals in the wax, which adds shine and lustre to the flooring. Refinishing can also help hide any scratches or imperfections that may have occurred over time. Regular refinishing will not only keep your floors looking beautiful, but it will also extend their lifespan. It’s advisable to hire a professional floor refinisher for this job as they have the expertise and equipment required for a successful refinishing process.