Refinishing Hardwood Floors: What You Need to Know

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How to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Hiring a professional is one way to refinish your hardwood floors, but it’s also a project that you can tackle on your own with a little patience.

Do you know how to refinish your hardwood floors? Here’s how to get the job done perfectly, so you can save your money for another home improvement project (like some useful new smart home gadgets).

Tools for Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Choose your tools carefully, and make sure you know how to use them properly before taking them to the floors. If you’re ready for the challenge, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Random orbital sander (you can rent one from your local hardwood store)
  • Handheld sander
  • Masking tape and painters tape
  • Plastic tarps or drop cloths
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust masks
  • Earplugs

Remove all furniture, upholstery, register covers and doors from the room you’re working in. Cover all of the vents, doorways, and light fixtures with plastic tarps or drop cloths. Make sure the edges are taped completely so that dust can’t creep in as easily.

Step 1: Sanding

First things first, sand away the old finish using the random orbital sander. Put on your dust mask, pop in the ear plugs and get ready for some messiness. Start at the corner farthest away from the door.

Huggins Flooring  website has some helpful sanding tips: For a wood like oak, start with 60-grit abrasive sandpaper. Move to 80-grit next and finish with 100- or 120-grit. Villa also recommends sanding like you’re moving the lawn: go row by row and overlap each pass by half the sander’s width. Make several passes with each grit.

For detailed work, like near baseboard moldings, a handheld sander will be necessary.

Step 2: Dust Clean Up

You’ll be covered in dust once you’ve finished sanding. Vacuum the entire area and then wipe the floor with tack cloth.

Be diligent about your cleanup, too. You don’t want any dust, hair or other particles getting stuck on your floors. Do a final inspection and check for any holes while you’re at it. If there are holes, fill them with wood filler.

Step 3: Sealing and Applying Stain

Wipe the floor with a cloth lightly dampened with mineral spirits. If you want to change the color of the floor you’ll also have to apply stain. Otherwise, apply a sanding sealer. Start in the farthest corner of the room, just like you did for sanding. Allow the sealer to dry per the instructions and then finish with a light sanding using 320-grit paper.

If you’re staining, begin with a pre-stain conditioner. Follow the instructions on your stain, but remember: a little goes a long way. It’s better to apply several thin coats than it is to lay it on thick.

Bob Villa has another trick you’ll find useful: apply stain to one small area at a time, then rub the excess off with a rag. Don’t let the leading edge dry, either — that will lead to striping.

Step 4: Finish With Polyurethane

Open up your doors and windows for this step, because polyurethane has a very strong scent. You can use a high-density foam roller to make application easier. To finish, use a paint brush and cut around the room’s perimeter, much like you’d do when painting.

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