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How to Refinish a Hardwood Floor

Are you looking to restore your hardwood floors to their natural beauty? You may be considering refinishing them yourself, or you may choose to hire a professional to take care of it for you. Whether you are considering spending the time and energy to do it yourself or the money to hire a professional, it helps to know what to expect. 

Refinishing a hardwood floor is a pretty straightforward process. You start by sanding the floor, for which you will need a professional sander. This can usually be rented from a hardware store – either local or a large chain. You will also need to be able to plug your sander directly in to the electrical panel. While sanding, it is essential to wear a dust mask and use plastic or drop cloths to section off the space from the rest of your house. As you sand, the sander will kick up small dust particles into the air that can get into your nose and on your furniture. 

Controlling the sander is the most critical part of correctly refinishing the floors. The key is to keep the sander moving at all times. If you stop in one spot, you risk burning, denting, or gouging the floor. The sander creates a tremendous amount of heat and can damage the floor if it is not handled correctly. Another essential thing to remember is that the sander is self-propelled – meaning this, it is going to want to keep moving. 

After the floor has been sand and the old finish is removed, it is time to apply the stain and the new finish. There are usually a couple of different steps within this part of the process, including applying both the stain and the finish. If you like the color of your existing floors, you can skip the stain. However, the finish is what seals and protects the floor from any external damage. 

Selecting a finish comes down to two unique options. You can choose from oil-based finishes or polyurethane finishes, also referred to as water-based. When deciding which stain to use, it is important to determine what you want your finish to accomplish. If you are looking for a warm finish with a natural glow, oil-based finishes are the way to go. They come in several different finishes, including satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Water-based finishes don’t always have that same naturally glowing shine, but they do dry much quicker. Water-based finishes are also great at protecting hardwood floors from yellowing. 

Regardless of which type of finish you choose, you must let each coat dry completely before applying the next one. If you are refinishing your own floors, default to the manufacturer’s instructions when in doubt. You can usually return your furniture to the room after about 24 hours. 


As you can see, refinishing a hardwood floor is a fairly involved process. It requires you to not only know how to complete it correctly, but it also requires a great deal of skill to achieve an even and natural look. 


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