How to Refinish a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are beautiful additions to a home, but they can be damaged over time. Hardwood Floor Refinishing Bergen County NJ can bring them back to life.

hardwood floor refinishing

Major scratches or gouges that can’t be repaired by sanding and filling are a sign that it’s time to refinish. There are a few important things to know before getting started.

As your home ages, its hardwood floors may begin to show signs of wear and tear. Surface blemishes such as scratches and gouges can be repaired with a simple recoat, but if the damage is extensive, it’s time to consider refinishing the entire floor. Refinishing is a big project that takes time and effort to complete, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to prepare for the job. This includes clearing the space and sealing off air vents and doors to prevent the spread of dust throughout the house. Additionally, homeowners should use plastic sheeting to cover furniture and other items in the room where the work is being done.

The first step in preparing for a hardwood floor refinish is to sand the wood with a drum sander. This will remove the old finish and splinters, as well as make it easier for the new stain to adhere. Home Depot recommends starting with a coarse grit (80) and moving up to finer grits as needed. When sanding, be sure to pay special attention to the corners and edges of the boards. These areas can easily become splintered or even torn if they’re not properly sanded and prepped.

When refinishing, it’s also important to test the results in an inconspicuous area. This will help you see how the new finish looks and help you spot any problems. For instance, if the new stain doesn’t stick properly, it can cause your entire floor to look uneven or dull.

Before the refinishing process begins, it’s a good idea to talk with your contractors about the stain you want to use. This will give them an idea of what your vision is for the space and allow them to suggest specific stains that might be best. It’s also a good idea to bring samples of different stains so that you can see how they look on your own floors before making a decision.

Some homeowners choose to refinish their own floors rather than hire a professional contractor. This choice can offer several perks, including serious cost savings and complete control over the project. However, it can be a difficult task for just one person, so it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of this option before moving forward.


Refinishing hardwood floors is a relatively simple do-it-yourself project for moderately handy homeowners, but it’s important to prepare the entire area thoroughly before you start. Otherwise, what started as a quick weekend project could turn into a messy and expensive disaster. The most important preparation is clearing the area of all rugs, furniture, and any other items that will be moved during sanding. Thorough vacuuming is also essential to remove any dust or debris that could mar the new finish.

Next, it’s a good idea to clear the floorboards of any nails or other objects sticking out from the ends. Use a handheld vacuum or a brush attachment to remove the loose debris, making sure that you’re getting all the dirt and dust in the corners and other hard-to-reach areas. Finally, use a tack cloth or other damp, microfiber-fiber cleaning material to wipe away any remaining dust. This is particularly important in areas that will be refinished, such as entryways and hallways.

Once the floor is clean, it’s a good idea to lightly sand the surface of the wood. This will smooth out any rough patches and help the stain adhere properly. The sanding process can leave behind gashes or dings in the flooring, so be sure to follow a proper grit sequence, starting with coarse grits and then moving on to finer grits as needed.

After sanding, the floor should be lightly sealed to protect it from water and daily use. You can choose a polyurethane or another type of protective coating, and you can even choose from a wide range of sheens, from matte to high-gloss. Be aware that a high-gloss sheen will magnify any minor scratches or dings on your floor, so consider this carefully before you apply the finish.

When you’re ready to stain the floor, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Different types of wood react to stains in slightly different ways, and it’s important to get the color right on the first try. You may also need to seal the floor again, as the first coat of stain is likely to look cloudy or streaky.


The refinishing process requires sanding the floors down to the bare wood, which can be messy and dusty. Make sure you have plenty of space and a good vacuum cleaner to get rid of the dust quickly. Also, be prepared to wear a mask. The sanding liquid can emit fumes that may irritate your nose, eyes, and lungs.

Before beginning, it’s important to determine what type of hardwood you have in your home. Most homeowners assume that all hardwood is the same, but there are several varieties of wood flooring that are sold as hardwood but actually contain other materials. The specific material will affect the refinishing process and results.

Some floors will need to be sanded and refinished for an ideal result, but others won’t benefit from that much work. If you have normal wear and shallow scratches in the finish (not on the wood), then recoating with a water-based polyurethane will be enough to refresh your floors and provide a long-term shine.

A less invasive option is to use a chemical etching liquid on the existing finish, which roughens it and allows a new coat of finish to bond with the old one. This technique isn’t as thorough as sanding, but it will get the job done for a lot less money and time.

Whether you choose to go with the chemical etching or the simple recoating, be sure to test a small area of the floor to see how it holds up. Then, buff the entire floor using a sanding block and follow the directions on the bottle to apply the finish.

If you plan to add a stain color, consider having your contractor do a “water popping” step before the final application of the stain. This opens the pores of the wood and provides more consistent stain penetration.

If you have deep scratches or dents in the surface of your wood floors, then they’ll need to be sanded and then refinished to look as good as new. This is a more extensive and time-consuming process, but it will yield the best results. Your BCC will help you decide which approach is the right choice for your hardwood floors.


The last step in refinishing hardwood floors is the application of the new coat of finish. This coat will protect the wood from damage and keep it looking gorgeous for a long time to come. Once again, it is important to use quality products designed for wood floors. Choose a stain that will complement the style and color of your decor. Be sure to use a high-quality polyurethane with low VOC levels (see this post for a comparison of oil- and water-based options).

Before applying the new finish, it is very important to clean the floor again. Use a tack cloth or vacuum to get rid of any dust left over from the sanding process. This will make it much easier for the finishing product to adhere to the floor. It is also a good idea to use this opportunity to repair any major scratches or gouges in the floors. Trowel filling is a quick and inexpensive way to do this, but it is not as durable as a solid coat of polyurethane.

When choosing a contractor to perform this work, be sure to read their online reviews. Ensure they have a good track record with past clients and that they are licensed, insured, and bonded to work in your area. A reputable contractor will handle any problems that may arise in a professional and timely manner.

If you are interested in a less expensive option for refinishing hardwood floors, consider screening and recoating instead of a complete refinish. Screening involves abrading the current coating with a floor buffer, but it is not as deep as full sand. It is then followed by a new coat of water-based polyurethane. This is a great alternative for floors that have been properly sanded in the past but need some freshening up.