How to Properly Sand and Refinish Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors can look amazing, adding character and value to your home. Plus, they’re timeless, able to transcend decades. In 2018 alone, Americans spent more than $3.5 billion to acquire this style. 

Unfortunately, wood flooring only looks excellent if it’s well maintained. After a few years, planks can start to look rough. If you’ve got floors you’ve been neglecting, discover five easy steps to sand and refinish them properly.

Photo by Bogdan Kupriets on Unsplash

Step One: Collect the Right Tools

Gather the necessary tools to ensure you have everything on-hand to finish the project. No one wants to take a trip to the hardware store mid-way through. 

Collect items such as:

  • Sandpaper: You’ll need a lot of sandpaper in various grits.
  • Stain: Choose a color to give your floor a fresh, new look. 
  • Brushes and rags: For applying stain and the finishing compound. 
  • A finishing compound: A coat applied on top of the stain to prevent damage. 
  • An orbital sander: Used to remove scratches creating by the drum sander. 
  • A drum sander: A heavy, upright machine that rolls sandpaper in a straight line. 
  • An edge sander: A small sander designed to get into tight spaces and corners.
  • A vacuum cleaner: For clearing up sawdust and other debris between sandings. 

If you don’t have all the required equipment lying around, look for rentals at your local hardware store. Overall, the price to sand and refinish your floors, including rental fees, will be less than hiring a professional. While a team will cost you around $4 per square foot, a DIY project is only $1 for the same amount of space.

Step Two: Lay Out Your Grits

Refinishing is a process where you sand the floor with various grits until it creates a nice, smooth surface. Wood is a very forgiving medium, and, in most cases, you might only need three varieties to get the result you’re looking for. 

If you have new floors, start with 36-grit coarse sandpaper. If your planks have seen better days, use a 24-grit variety. For flooring covered with paint or shellac, you might night to go a little coarser, such as a 16 or 12 grit. 

Next, you’ll need to work down to medium and fine. Your second sanding might use 60 or 80 grit, for example, with a follow-up using 100 grit.

Step Three: Do a Rough-Sand

Pick up your starting grit and rough-sand the entire floor. You’ll need to switch between your orbital and edge sander to get each spot. 

If you’re not sure what grit to start with, try one and sand out a 4×4 section. If the wood looks bare and clean to the edge of the boards, then you’re good to go. If not, swap out for a coarser grit before you continue.

Step Four: Sweep and Vacuum

The next step is one you’ll repeat again and again. Sweep and vacuum up all the sawdust between sandings. With everything clear, you can be sure you’re sanding the floor and not just moving debris around. 

As a bonus, this step will make the clean-up process easier afterwards. Plus, it’ll keep you from breathing in dust while you work. Particles small enough to inhale can cause health effects like eye irritation, coughing, asthma attacks and more.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Step Five: Stain and Finish

If you’re going to stain your floor, this is the time to do it. Re-apply the original color or try something new. After, apply the finishing compound. Be sure to wait the full dry time before you move furniture back on.

A Guide to Sanding and Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

If you have wood flooring — or plan to invest in some — maintenance is a must. After years of wear and tear, you’ll need to sand and refinish. Luckily, with the right tools, the process is easy. Read the guide above to make your floors look pristine. 

About the author

Scott Huntington is a writer who lives in Vermont and loves all things DIY. You can find him outside no matter how cold it gets. 

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