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DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing Tips

DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing Tips

Are your hardwood floors looking worn? Is the finish uneven, with some spots still showing shine and others looking dull? One of the greatest advantages hardwood offers over another flooring is the option of having it refinished. A hardwood floor can be refinished several times over its life, and every time you will be left with floors that look like new. Here is the information you need to know before deciding to undertake this project yourself.

Necessary Equipment:

  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Hammer
  • Drum sander or floor sander
  • Sandpaper in different grits from very low to very high
  • Mineral Spirits and cheesecloth
  • Stain and polyurethane
  • Rollers and brushes
  • Plenty of patience


Sanding the original finish from your floors will create dust. There is no way around it, no way to avoid it, and even sanders with dust bags will create a lot of it. Your best bet is to be proactive to minimize the movement of it around your home. Heating vents and return air ducts should be taped and sealed off using plastic. Plastic can also be hung in doorways to prevent the dust from migrating out of the room in which you are working. Even with these precautions taken, be prepared to clean up dust throughout your home.

Use the hammer to remove all baseboard trim from the walls. It’s tempting to remove only the quarter round, but the sanding and final finishing work will be much simpler with the baseboards completely removed. If you’ve ever considered replacing or upgrading your baseboard, now is the perfect time.

Begin Sanding

Sanding is the most challenging part of refinishing the floors. In theory, you rent a sander, bring it home, put some sandpaper on it and start sanding. In reality, sanding a wood floor is an art–¬†one which requires plenty of practice. If you don’t apply enough pressure to the sander, you will not remove the old finish. However, if you apply too much pressure, you can wind up with dents, ruts, indentations known as furrows and a generally uneven floor. Great care must be taken with the machines to be sure that the floor is properly stripped, but not ruined.

Clean the Floor

All of the dust must be removed thoroughly from the floor, so you don’t wind up with a bumpy and uneven finish. Mineral spirits can be poured on a rag and then the floor can be gently wiped with the mineral spirits to pull up dust. Cheesecloth can also be used to be sure all traces of dust are completely removed. This is not a job you can do by simply going over the floor with a quick mop. Dust residue will cause uneven absorption of stain, and you will not be pleased with the final result.

Stain and Seal

Staining the floor takes as much care as the sanding. Slow and steady movements with the roller will prevent bubbling. A steady pace with long strokes can prevent overlap marks. Finally, allow the floor to dry for a minimum of twenty-four hours before adding polyurethane.

Refinishing hardwood floors is worth every penny of the expense. Your floors are sure to give you years of pleasure and satisfaction. For optimal results, be sure to take your time and do a thorough job with every step of the process.



HOMETIME HOW TO, Flooring – Sanding Floors – Prep.” HOMETIME. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010.

“Refinishing School | Wood Floors | This Old House – 1.” Home Improvement and Remodeling: This Old House. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2010.,,203303,00.html.

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