What Is Hardwood Floor Refinishing?

By Cezar

Like anything else in life, hardwood floors fade in color and quality over time. Their degradation can make your entire home seem lifeless, which is why most people who have hardwood floors will choose to refinish them at some point in their lives. But what does refinishing floors mean? Basically, it means stripping away the old protectant and stain and applying new.

To restore floors, however, you have to do a lot more than simply apply new finish to them. It’s a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Read on to learn how it works.

Is Hardwood Floor Refinishing the Same as Hardwood Floor Resurfacing?

These are both ways to restore floors, but they are not the same. Refinishing means sanding down through the top layer of the floor and applying new stain and lacquer.

Resurfacing is a more intensive and expensive process. It means giving your old floor a total facelift. If some boards are badly damaged, resurfacing would mean removing those boards and replacing them entirely.

The option that’s right for you will depend on the state of your old floor and on your current needs and budgetary constraints. Some people will refinish their floors themselves, but that’s almost unheard of for resurfacing hardwood floors.

How Does Hardwood Floor Refinishing Work?

Restoring your old floor will require multiple steps.

Prepare the Room

The first thing you’ll need to do is to clear away all furniture and anything else that is on your floor. You’ll also need to seal up air vents to prevent dust from getting in, cover doors with plastic sheeting, and remove baseboard, moldings, and other items attached to the floor.

Sand the Floor

To refinish hardwood floors, you need to sand out the old layer of finish on top. This is the most labor-intensive part of the process.

You’ll need protective gear and a sander. You can conceivably sand by hand, but that is very difficult, and very few people opt to go that route in the modern age.

You’ll need to sand the floor three times, each time using a lighter-grit sandpaper. Use a detail sander or palm sander for finely detailed areas. Fill any holes you find with wood filler or putty and clean up all the debris.

Stain your Hardwood Floors

First, come up with a game plan. You don’t want to stain yourself into a corner. The stain takes a while to dry, and you’ll have to choose between ruining your hard work or spending a very long night on the floor.

Apply the stain evenly to your hardwood floors two feet at a time with lambswool applicator or something similar. Use a paintbrush for the fine-detail areas near the baseboard. After the stain dries (which can take up to a few days), assess the color. If you want it to be darker, apply another coat.

Apply Protection to Your Floor

To fully restore floors, you’ll need to apply a protective finish over top of the stain. These days, people usually use a polyurethane option, but there are multiple options, including some designed specifically to be eco-friendly.

Use a high-density foam roller to apply a thin coat of finish evenly over the floor’s surface. Use a paint brush or something similar for finely detailed areas. Wipe away any excess and let the wood dry. Apply a second coat.

Different sealers have different direction, so check yours. You may need to sand in between coats.

Wait 24 hours before walking over the floor. Wait 72 before placing furniture on it.

Do I Have to Refinish Hardwood Floors Myself?

If you’ve read this page and are wondering if you have to do this all this work yourself, the answer is “no.” Resurfacing hardwood floors is a clearly a job professionals, but refinishing also benefits from a professional’s expertise.

It’s possible to damage your floors beyond repair in the sanding process. The work also often ends up being much more than most people are interested in doing. So, if any of that sounds like it might apply to you, get a quote from the pros.

There is no “one size fits all” solution here! Each wood floor and its condition are unique. We will provide you with the best and most cost-efficient solution for your floors.

Get a Free In-Home Consultation & Estimation from one of our flooring experts

As a general rule, professionally refinished hardwood floors last 5 times longer vs DIY.