Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

Kevin Brown

Hardwood floors were the most popular type of floor in the United States. They were first used in a finished way in the 1600s and continued to grow in popularity until the 1980s when cheaper options became available.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

Today, having hardwood floors is a luxury and should make you proud. If your hardwood floors are old, scuffed, and unattractive, maybe all they need is refinishing. This guide will help you decide.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

Finishing old hardwood floors requires some know-how but can be done with patience and carefulness. With the right steps, you can achieve your dream floors.

What You’ll Need

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Hardwood floor cleaner
  • Mask
  • Buffer
  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • Microfiber sweeper
  • Hardwood floor finish


First, remove everything from the room and sweep the floor well. Then, mop the floor using hardwood floor cleaner or a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water.

Make sure your floor is dry before applying finishes. Applying finishes on a wet floor will leave marks and blots.

When sanding, wear a mask and make sure everyone in the room is wearing one. Rent a buffer to make the process easier. Use 150 to 200-grit sandpaper on areas that the buffer can’t reach.

Afterwards, buff the floor with the buffer. Follow the instructions provided with the buffer or ask the rental company for guidance. The old finish should come off, leaving a powder all over the floor.

Finally, vacuum the floor.

Vacuum up the powder as you go to make it easier to see and reduce the amount of powder you breathe in. If you have a helper, they can do this. After buffing the floor, let it settle for ten minutes, then vacuum the entire floor once more.

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Finally, sweep the floor with a soft microfiber sweeper. Avoid using a bristle broom as it will miss dust and spread it around. Use a Swiffer or another soft pad sweeper or duster.

If you have a respirator, use it. Otherwise, a mask may suffice if you take frequent breaks for fresh air. Cover the hard-to-reach areas with a small hand brush, then pour strips of finish on the rest of the room and spread it out like you would with a mop.

Applying paint to wood is recommended by working with the wood grain. If a second coat is desired, it should be applied after a three-hour wait, or as indicated on the bucket. It is advisable to wait approximately one week before placing furniture or entering the room.

Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

The cost to refinish hardwood floors depends on whether you do it yourself or hire someone. On average, the cost ranges between $1,074 and $2,482. The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is $3 to $8 per square foot. Here’s the breakdown of the expenses:

– Sanding: $0.50 to $3.00 per square foot

– Staining: $1 to $3 per square foot

– Coating: $1 to $2 per square foot

Additional costs include labor, tools, and specialty items for different types of floors.

Here are a few projects where individuals refinished old hardwood floors and achieved incredible results! Take a look for inspiration for your own project!

Roxanne’s White Hardwood Floors:

This project is truly inspiring. Roxanne from The Honeycomb Home refinished her hardwood floors, which initially appeared rough. Many people would have given up before attempting to refinish the floors without professional assistance.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

The medium-colored floors were old and rundown. After some DIY, she had them looking marvelous! Instead of using a wood stain, she tried a different route.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

She painted them with white paint after preparing them and applied a polyurethane coat to seal the floors. This demonstrates that it’s unnecessary to darken hardwood floors to give them a new finish.

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Karen’s Contemporary Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Karen from The Art Of Doing Stuff shared her method for finishing pine hardwood to achieve a stunning appearance. The challenge with pine is that it tends to turn orange when finished, but Karen discovered a solution.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

She started the floors as usual but used less fine-grit sandpaper for a more natural look. She applied a matte finish using a water-based formula and exclusively utilized BonaVida products.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

The final look is stunning, natural, and a unique hue. This look is suitable for farmhouses, shabby chic houses, and rustic houses. In fact, it can work for any house.

Robert And Lauren’s Hardwood Floor Under Carpet

If you have hardwood floors under old carpet, remove the carpet! That’s what Robert and Lauren of Blesser House did. They pulled up the carpet and were left with a moldy mess.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

To remove baseboard covering the carpet, use a hammer and pry bar. Pull up the carpet and, if necessary, use a utility knife for stubborn sections.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

They remove staples and continue as if the carpet never existed. Wear a safety mask in case there is mold or something even worse underneath. Their floors look incredible.

Sarah’s Transformation of Light to Dark Hardwood Floors

Sarah from Room For Tuesday chose to dramatically darken her light hardwood floors. The quote she received was $4000, prompting her to take on the project herself.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

Spending $600 saved her thousands of dollars. Consider this if you find your quote excessive. Doing it yourself will always save you money, especially if done correctly.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

She chose a smooth look using over 200-grit sandpaper, resulting in a fantastic outcome. The dark floors are exceptionally dark and look stunning in contrast to the white fireplace.

The experts at Life On Shady Lane provided a detailed guide on how to refinish hardwood floors. They walked us through each step and created two posts to ensure we didn’t overlook anything.

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Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

This project is special as it demonstrates the significance of each step. It explains the importance of sanding old finished surfaces, the distinction between non-sealed and sealed floors, and other valuable information. It’s definitely worth reading.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Complete Guide

Look at these results! It may seem easy, but following each step requires hard work and dedication. Taking shortcuts doesn’t work—you need to earn your hardwood floors.

But it will be worth it!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Is Replacing Hardwood Floors a Better Option?

Unless the wood is rotting, no. Replacing hardwood floors is extremely expensive. Refinishing them can also be costly if you hire a professional, but it’s even more expensive to completely redo them.

Stick to the original if possible.

Is My Floor Too Scuffed and Scratched?

Probably not. With a good sander, you can remove most scratches, unless they are deep cuts. In that case, you may want to leave them as they can add character and are hardly noticeable when finished.

Here’s a guide on how to clean hardwood floors safely. Clean them once a week to avoid needing refinishing soon. Take good care of your hard work!

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