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A DIY Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Posted on June 19, 2023

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Comprehensive DIY Tutorial: Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors is a task that most homeowners assume is reserved for professionals. While it is true that the process requires some specialised tools and a significant amount of elbow grease, it is a project that you can do yourself if you’re prepared to put in the time and effort. This detailed guide will lead you through the step-by-step process of refinishing your hardwood floors, breathing new life into your living space.

Why refinish your hardwood floors?

Before we delve into the “how,” it’s essential to understand the “why.” Refinishing your hardwood floors is a cost-effective way to drastically improve your home’s appearance. With time, the top layer of wood floors can become scratched, stained, or dulled by wear and tear. By refinishing your floors, you’re removing this damaged layer to reveal the beautiful, untouched wood beneath. Refinishing also enhances the durability of your floors, protecting them from further wear and damage. If done correctly, it can add decades to your floors’ lifespan, making it a worthwhile investment.

Getting Started: Preparing for Your Project

Materials and tools

Before beginning the refinishing project, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials and tools. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:
  1. Drum or orbital sander (which can be rented from a hardware store)
  2. Sandpaper of different grits (20-grit, 36-grit, 60-grit, and 100-grit)
  3. Vacuum cleaner
  4. Microfiber mop or cloth
  5. Wood filler
  6. Stain (if you want to change the colour of your floors)
  7. Polyurethane finish
  8. High-quality brush or lamb’s wool roller
  9. Respirator or dust mask, safety glasses, and ear protection

Preparing Your Space

Before you begin the sanding process, you’ll need to prepare your space. Start by removing all furniture, rugs, and curtains from the room. Then, clean the floor thoroughly to remove dust and dirt. Seal off doorways and vents with plastic sheets to prevent dust from spreading to other parts of the house.

Step 1: Sanding Your Floors

Sanding is the most labour-intensive part of the refinishing process. It’s also where you’ll be making the most significant transformations to your floors.
  1. First Pass: Rough Sanding: Begin with the coarsest sandpaper (20-grit). Move the sander smoothly across the floor, following the grain of the wood. Avoid moving too quickly or staying in one spot for too long to prevent uneven sanding.
  2. Filling Gaps: After the initial pass, use the wood filler to fill any holes or cracks in the floor. Allow it to dry before proceeding.
  3. Subsequent Passes: Repeat the sanding process with progressively finer sandpaper. This helps to smooth out the scratches left by the previous pass.
Remember to vacuum and wipe down the floors between each pass to ensure you’re working on a clean surface. Herringbone floor sanding in progress by Mr Sander® using the powerful Effect 2200 belt sander. Voltage: 220V, Frequency: 60Hz. Size: 250x750mm. Dust extraction system with HEPA filter ensures a clean and efficient outcome.

Step 2: Staining (optional)

Staining your floors is optional but can add a beautiful finish and change your floor’s colour to match your interior decor. Apply your stain of choice with a rag or brush, working in small sections and following the grain of the wood. Allow it to penetrate the wood before wiping off any excess. Leave the stain to dry completely before proceeding.

Step 3: Applying the Finish

Once your floor is sanded (and possibly stained), it’s time to apply the finish. This final step seals your floors, providing a protective layer that enhances durability. Using a high-quality brush or a lamb’s wool roller, apply a thin layer of polyurethane finish. Work in small sections, moving along the grain of the wood. Allow each layer to dry completely before adding the next. Typically, two to three layers are sufficient, but this could vary depending on your preference and the floor’s condition. wood Floor Refinishing

Step 4: Curing and Cleaning

Allow the finish to cure for a few days before returning furniture and rugs to the room. This ensures it has hardened fully, providing maximum durability. Lastly, clean up your tools and return any rented equipment. Dispose of used sandpaper, brushes, and rags in accordance with your local waste disposal regulations.


Refinishing your hardwood floors is an achievable DIY project that can drastically enhance the aesthetic appeal and lifespan of your floors. With the right tools, materials, and a hefty dose of patience, you can restore your hardwood floors to their former glory, adding character and warmth to your home. Remember that the key to a successful refinishing project lies in meticulous preparation, careful execution, and adequate drying and curing time. Good luck with your project, and enjoy your renewed hardwood floors!

Some Useful Links:

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DIY Guide: How to Sand and Varnish a Wooden Floor Essential Tips for Wood Stripping and Wood Floor Sanding How We Sanded Our Wood Floor: A DIY Story Repair Your Damage Wood Floor with Mr Sander® Company Restore Your Wood Flooring with Mr Sander® Company  
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