It’s a new year and a great time to spruce up your home. If your floors need some attention, you might be wondering if you should hire a professional to handle hardwood floor refinishing – or just go it alone.

To help you decide, here’s a look at the steps involved in refinishing your floors on your own and the advantages you’ll get from a professional. 

10 Steps to DIY Refinishing Hardwood Floors

If your hardwood floors are seriously damaged, you should always opt for a professional for hardwood refinishing. Undertaking the task of filling holes or gouges, sanding and restaining is a lot to take on, even for the most experienced DIYer.

If your floors just need a little bit of TLC due to minor scratches and dings, or a finish that’s grown dull over time, you may be thinking you can fix them up with just a new coat of varnish. However, to go from dingy to delightful, you’ll have to put in some serious hours. 

Let’s take a look at the steps needed if you are considering taking on this project on your own. 

Step #1: Assemble Your Supplies 

There’s a lot you’ll need to pull together before you get started refinishing your hardwood floors. You don’t want to have to stop mid-work to run out to get tools or supplies you forgot. Before you begin the job, you’ll need:

  • A drum or belt sander and an edge sander 
  • Sandpaper with the proper grit for each sander
  • Pole sander or a buffer
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • A small pry bar
  • Painters tape and sheeting
  • Wood filler for small patches
  • Spackle knife 
  • A protective mask and eyewear
  • Shop vacuum
  • Tack cloth 
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Stain and stain applicator pads
  • Smooth foam roller
  • Polyurethane
  • Fine wool pads
  • Rags

Step #2: Clear Out the Room 

The next step in the hardwood floor refinishing process is to clear out the space. This takes time, but will protect your home from dust and will also make the job easier as you’re working. You’ll be glad you made the effort to properly clear out your space by removing all the furniture, the window treatments and anything covering the floors. 

You’ll also want to cover vents and electrical outlets with painters tape to protect them from dust. Hang and secure plastic sheeting in doorways if you’re only refinishing the hardwood floors in one room to prevent dust from accumulating throughout your home. 

Step #3: Prep the Space 

Next, take the base moldings out using the pry bar and remove any staples, nails or tacks with pliers. Number the moldings as you’re taking them out, so you know exactly where they go when you’re ready to re-install them. If you notice any floorboards that are loose during this process, now’s the time to nail them down, before you begin sanding or staining. 

Step #4: Perform Fixes

If you have minor scratches, dings, holes, cracks, or other imperfections, you’ll need to fix them now so you can’t see them when you are done with the project. To smooth them out, use a wood filler and a spackle knife to fill in and fix the problem area. 

If you have a larger area that needs to be repaired, a trowel filler is a better choice applied using a putty knife. Before you begin sanding work, though, make sure all the patches and repairs are completely dry. Once they are, wipe them down with a damp rag. 

Step #5: Sand the Floor

You’ll need to hit the home improvement store to rent equipment for this step of the hardwood floor refinishing process. If you’ve never used a drum sander, ask a pro for tips. They can be tricky to control and can cause damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Practice on plywood until you’re comfortable using the equipment on your actual floors. This is also where your protective gear comes in, including a respiratory mask and eye gear. 

To start, use a coarse grain paper, like 40-grit, for the first pass. This will remove the old finish, as well as take care of other scratches and dings. You’ll have to check and change out the sandpaper as it wears out, typically around every 20 square feet. Don’t forget to regularly empty the dust bag. 

Once you’re done with the bulk of the floors, the edge sander comes in next to handle the detail work, around the edges of the room. Use the same 40-grit coarse sandpaper to get the edges even.

The next step in the sanding process is to do it all again with 60-, 80-, then 120-grit sandpaper. This will create the smooth and even surface you want for staining. Between each step, make sure you’re also vacuuming and wiping down the floors. 

Step #6: Buff the Floors

You can either rent a buffer or use a pole sander for this portion of the work. It will get rid of any little sanding marks, so the finish is smooth. A 120-grit sanding screen is the best choice for this step. 

Step #7: Clean and Clean Again

Refinishing hardwood floors on your own means dust and more dust. Before you stain your floors, you need to get rid of as much dust as possible. Vacuum and wipe surfaces until the room is clean. 

You’ll also need to go beyond the floors to also wipe down walls, ceiling fixtures, window moldings, and any other spots that have accumulated dust. This ensures dust doesn’t fall onto wet, newly stained floors. A shop vacuum and sticky tack cloth can make the job easier.

Step #8: Use Water Popping

At this point, your floors should be clean and dry. However, for the stain to fully penetrate in an even way, use the water popping technique. Mix one part denatured alcohol with two parts water and spray your floor with a pump sprayer, covering it evenly. Run a mop or rag over it to provide consistent distribution, then let it dry. This helps the grain in the wood rise up and take in the stain, leading to better end results.

Step #9: Apply the Stain

Once your floors are fully dry, apply either a stain or sealer, depending on the look you’re going for. Again, you’ll need to wear your protective gear to ensure you’re not breathing in hazardous fumes from the hardwood floor refinishing products. 

Use a staining sponge or rag and dip it in the stain, wringing out excess fluid. Start to stain, working your way from the far corner toward the exit. This way, you won’t stain yourself into the room and have to step on the floor. 

Stain should be applied in the same direction as the grain without pools or excess allowed to sit. Let the stain dry for a full 24 hours. 

Step #10: Seal Your Floors

A clear coat of polyurethane will protect the floors and add luster and shine. You can opt for anything from high gloss to matte. Just make sure you’re wearing a respirator or mask when working with a sealer.

Before the application, clean the floors again to ensure they are free from dust particles. Apply two coats and buff in between. Then allow at least 24 hours before walking on the floors and 72 hours before replacing furniture and rugs.

Easy 1-Step Method to Professionally Refinished Hardwood Floors

If you’d like to hand off the work to a professional instead, all you have to do is take one step and make a call. When you do, you can take advantage of a range of benefits, including:

A Smoother Finish

Handling hardwood floor refinishing on your own is a huge job. Instead of doing it on your own and getting inferior results, achieve a smoother, shinier, more beautiful finish with a professional. 

Less Work for You

When you hire a professional, you don’t have to spend days refinishing your hardwood floors. You can skip the frustrations, hassles and headaches and hand off all the heavy lifting to an expert.

Increased Home Value 

Hardwood floors are in demand and if you have them in your home – professionally and beautifully refinished – they will boost curb appeal and home value.

Choose N-Hance for Your Hardwood Floors

At N-Hance®, we can offer you these benefits and many more. In fact, we take a dust-free, sandless approach that means you won’t have dust particles in your home or in the air. We also use eco-friendly, family-safe products without the harsh and toxic fumes found in traditional stains and sealers. Finally, with our Lightspeed® UV curing system, we can cure your floors instantly, in seconds, and deliver a rock-hard, more durable finish. 

Ready to explore the many options for kitchen cabinet colors? Connect with N-Hance® and let us help! Call (855) 642-6230 to set up a FREE consultation.