A Quick Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Whether it’s a secret treasure discovered under carpeting or hardwood floors you’ve had for years, uncovering and refinishing hardwood floors will bring new life and a completely new style to your home. Hardwood flooring has stood the test of time, stylistically and literally, because of its ability to be refinished. Floors can be refinished to restore the wood’s original appearance and shine, change its color or finish, or blend to with newly added wood.

What’s involved?

There are several steps involved in the process of refinishing and recoating, and many depend on the particular home and flooring situation. You should plan on several days for each step – even better, plan to go on vacation and come home to fabulous new floors!

The following are the basic steps involved:

Step 1: Sand the floors. When there is a wax coating on top of the floor’s polyurethane finish or when the wood underneath the finish has been damaged or stained, the finish must be sanded down. During this step, the existing finish on top of the hardwood floors is sanded down to just bare wood. At Highland Hardwood Flooring we use a dustless sanding system which will reduce the amount of dust that is spread throughout your home during the sanding phase.

Step 2: Pick a stain.  Applying a stain to the hardwood is optional but if you want a certain color stain applied it will need to be done after sanding and before applying a finish.

Step 3: Apply a finish. This adds personality and durability to your floors. Most finishes require 2-3 applications with sanding between each application. There are three kinds of finishes you can choose from for your floors.

  1. Polyurethane: oil or water based. Polyurethane has varying degrees of luster with a shiny or matte finish.
  2. Varnish: matte-glossy finish. Varnish comes in a variety of lusters, with the higher gloss being most durable.
  3. Penetrating Sealer: natural looking finish that brings out the natural grain of the wood.

DDIY (Don’t do it yourself!). Refinishing your floors yourself may seem like a great way to save some money, but hardwood floors are tricky and time consuming to refinish. By the time you’ve found and rented all the tools you need and devoted the time involved, you’re not going to save a lot of money. The slightest misstep with an industrial sander can ruin your finish, gouge the floors (or your toe), or ding the baseboards and you’ll have to start all over. You can buff too hard and thin the floors or buff unevenly if you sand incorrectly it shows in the finish, and using excess finish will cause pooling and discoloration. You certainly can do it yourself, but weigh your options, time and skill level first to determine if you should hire a professional.