Refinish Hardwood Floors

Over time, hardwood floors become worn and dingy losing the luster of earlier years. Softer hardwood floors are particularly susceptible to scratches and pitting. The good news is that anyone can refinish hardwood floors with a little elbow grease, time and the right tools.

Project Preparation

The tools required for refinishing floors can be rented or purchased. For most people, renting a floor sander, shop vacuum and edger is more practical than buying these items. It is always recommended that you ask for a demonstration of tools to be rented so that you fully understand how to use them before embarking on the project.

Sandpaper, wood stain, gloves, a wide broom, rollers, rags, dust mask and floor wax or polyurethane are the items needed to complete the project. Sandpaper of varying grades should be purchased for different stages of the job. The sandpaper will be rotated as the project progresses.

Before the sanding begins, inspect the floor for nails, tacks or any carpet staples that might rip the sandpaper. Hammer down any nails that are not flush with the wood. Remove any carpet tacks or staples found.


Start the project with the heaviest grade sandpaper. Switch grades of sandpaper after completing the initial sanding of the first layer. When using a sander, go with the grade in even strokes. Focus on removing scratches or pits in the finish. Be careful that you don’t leave the sander in any spot for too long. Turn the machine off instead of leaving it running. This prevents over sanding and uneven floor surfaces.


Use a shop vac to remove debris and dust after sanding. A tack rack or broom should be used to remove all dust before proceeding to staining. A clean rag is best for applying stain. Test the stain color by applying some stain to a small piece of the floor in a closet or other out of the way area.

Stain dries in about five minutes. If the desired color is attained, then go ahead and apply the stain to the rest of the floor. Use a rag to apply the stain. To achieve a darker color, a brush can be used. A second coat can be added if necessary.


Before applying a polyurethane finish, the floor should be dry. A brush or roller is recommended to leave a smooth finish. Drying takes up to three hours. Multiple coats can be applied as desired.