Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors: Why, When, and How

By Cezar

Hardwood floors are renowned for their longevity. With the right care, a hardwood floor can be restored to a condition almost as good as new again and again. If you’ve found yourself noticing that your hardwood floor isn’t looking quite as good as it used to- you’re in the right place.

The Right Treatment for The Right Time

Depending on the condition of your floors, there are many potential treatments that can be used to have your floor looking great again. Here are some of the most common choices:

  • Deep Clean

There are many different ways to improve the appearance of your floors. The simplest, of course, is to clean it! Even if you clean your floors regularly, you can benefit from doing a proper deep cleaning. A professional deep cleaning will include the use of a scrubbing machine, which can remove the dirt from high traffic areas without damaging your floor.

  • Buff and Recoat

If a cleaning still hasn’t improved the look of your floors, a buff and recoat may be what you need. A buff and recoat is the right approach when your finish has begun to wear off, or if there are small scratches and scuffs in the finish itself. A floor normally should be buffed and recoated once every three years to keep the protective finish intact.

  • Refinishing

Refinishing is the most intensive way to restore your floor. Refinishing is the right choice when scratches have penetrated through the finish into the wood, when the stain has become faded or discoloured, or if there are moisture stains that need to be corrected.
Refinishing involves removing the top layer of wood and finish with a sander. Once a fresh layer of raw wood has been exposed, your floor will be re-stained and refinished.
A floor can only be refinished 10-12 times during its lifespan, so it’s a good way to wait to refinish until you really need it!

When It’s Time to Refinish

There are many times when it is a good idea to refinish your hardwood floor. If you’ve purchased a new house with hardwood flooring that looks tired or distressed, refinishing the floors can be a great way to spruce up your home before moving in. A new stain is applied as part of the refinishing process, so this is also an opportunity to change the colour of your stain if you so desire. Refinishing is also the only way to address deep scratches, dents, or surface moisture damage.
If you’ve determined it’s time to refinish, you’ll need to decide whether to hire a professional or to do it yourself. While it might not sound difficult for an experienced DIYer, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew! If you have large floors, refinishing is a big job. What’s more, each stage (sanding, staining, finishing) has to be done right, or you’ll have ugly mistakes that you’ll later have to request a professional to fix.

Tips For DIYers

If you do opt to finish the floor yourself, these tips can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches!

  • Choose The Right Sanding Equipment: As a DIYer, don’t try to handle a drum sander. Drum sanders are powerful and remove the finish quickly, but are hard to control for the inexperienced. Leave them to the pros! You’ll be less likely to make costly mistakes using an orbital sander.
  • Be Safe: Different parts of a refinishing job have different safety requirements. During sanding, make sure that you have ear protection and are wearing a dust mask. During refinishing, wear an organic vapor respirator, neoprene gloves, and eye protection.
  • Have The Right Sandpaper: You’ll need to start with a low grit when you begin sanding and steadily go higher. Don’t go lower than 60 to start; proceed to 80 and have 100 or 120 grain waiting to finish the job. One sheet of sandpaper lasts for around 250 square feet – a helpful trick is buying more than you think you’ll need, because the last thing you want to do is to run to the hardware store in the middle of your sanding job!
  • Clean Thoroughly After Sanding: Dust, hair and other debris will be trapped under the finish if not removed. Before staining your floor, always make sure that your new layer of raw wood is spotlessly clean.
  • Leave Yourself an Exit: Always plan how you will apply the finish in each room so that you don’t end up stuck in a corner surrounded by wet surfaces!


Whether you re-finish the floor yourself or bring in a professional is ultimately up to you, and will depend a lot on your level of experience, time and budget. Either way, it’s always good to remember the signs that your floor needs something more than a simple cleaning so that you can keep it looking its best.