What’s Involved with Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Nothing brings back the luster, shine, and the natural beauty of wood flooring that like refinishing does, especially if the floor has deep scratches and dings. However, it is a big job, so deciding whether or not you want to be a real do-it-yourselfer and get at it yourself, or whether you want to hire a professional is important.

Do you have the time?

First off, the job will take several days, you will not only be working for many hours on filling cracks, sanding, buffing, and staining your floor, but you will also have to allow about 24 hours for each coat of finish to dry (this varies depending on the type of finish you opt for). So three days is a good estimate of the amount of time the job will take.


Refinishing involves two major pieces of equipment – a drum sander and a buffer. These large machines can be rented at most home stores, and are large enough that you will most likely need a truck to haul them home. Dealing with these alone is often enough to make some people opt for hiring a professional. There is also a small amount of other tools you will need including an orbital/palm sander.

The Work

Okay, so if you have decided that you have a few days to spend on your floors and that you can haul the equipment home, the last major detail you’ll want to consider is the work involved: sanding, buffing, cleaning, and finishing along with a few other smaller tasks.

Sanding and buffing floors is not an incredibly difficult job. However, the machines may take a little getting used to, especially the buffer. At times the buffer may seem like it has a mind of its own and you may have to work with it a bit, but this is typically not backbreaking work. However, the job of refinishing gets more difficult as you go along.

After you have sanded and buffed the floor, you will need to do a very thorough job of cleaning up. You will need to clean up the dust from the floor, walls, and ceiling. Once cleaning has been done (along with some other small tasks which may have needed to be done before sanding – things like sinking nails and filling cracks), it is time to finish the floors.

Applying stain to wood floors requires a lot of elbow grease, and you will be on your knees a lot. You will need to carefully cover the entire floor, section by section, being carefully to feather out any brush marks. Also, you will have to do this not just once, but twice – so kneepads are a must! Once the second coat is done, you will have finally finished this job!

As you can see, there is a lot involved with refinishing your own floors, but if you do decide that you can handle it, perhaps you’ll get some satisfaction of a job well done on your new, beautifully rich wood floor.

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