How To Refinish Wood Floors Step-By-Step

How to Refinish Wood Floors Step-by-Step

It feels like it doesn’t take much for wood floors to get scuffed up and start looking old. It’s been, what? A year? Two years? Oh, shoot, 10 years? Yep. It’s time to refinish those floors so they look brand new. Learn how to refinish wood floors step-by-step.

Refinishing hardwood floors seems like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be scary or hard. With a little help and a little knowledge, you’ll have your woods shining in no time.

We’re going to walk you through the steps on how to refinish wood floors. So, don’t panic because you’re going to do just fine.

Step #1 Get Ready 

The very first step is to get everything ready. If you’re not ready, you’re going to run into a lot of obstacles and issues when you’re doing the heavy work.

To get ready, clear out the room or rooms you’ll be working on. Move all your furniture out of the way. This should include lamps and rugs. You want a bare, empty room.

Clean up the floors. Dust and mop if you need to. A clean floor is easier to work with when it comes to refinishing.

You can stick with a broom but you’ll do a better job with a vacuum or even a shop vac.

Walk around the room and check everything for safety. Hammers shouldn’t be hanging out. Fix any loose floorboards.

The last part of getting your wooden floors ready is to seal off the rooms you’ll be working on. Use plastic sheets to seal up the doors. Otherwise, you’ll send dust all over you home. 

Step #2 Sand the Floor

You’ll need PPE for this task, including earplugs, a face mask, and safety goggles. Of course, you’ll also need an orbital sander or drum sander.

You should start with 40-grit sandpaper. Eventually, you should move on to 60-grit. And you should finish up with 100-grit sandpaper.

Push the sander along the lengths of the floorboards. As you push the sander, it removes the old finish and smooths out the floor. It also helps level floor if it has a slight warp.

Step #2 Sand the Floor

How to Refinish Wood Floors Step-by-Step


Always keep the sander in motion while it’s on. If not, you can sand too deep in one area and cause gross grooves on your floor. And you can’t fix these types of grooves.

Sweep up the entire floor between changing the sandpaper on your sander. You also want to sweep your wood floor before you move on to the next step. 

Step #3 Hand Sand the Edges 

You can’t reach corners or edges with a big electric sander. You’re going to want a hand sander to finish the sanding process.

You’ll still need your PPE for this step for safety.

Start with coarse sandpaper. Move on to finer grits as you move along.

These edge sanders can be difficult to maneuver. You have to be very careful. When you start the sander, make sure it’s not sitting on the floor. You might cause a groove on your hardwood floor.

As you sand, go along with the edges of the floorboard grains like you did with the big sander.

Clean up all the dust once you’re done sanding the corners and edges of your floor. 

Step #4 Screen Sand 

There’s a lot of sanding when you refinish hardwood floors. And you can skip this step if you want. But we promise this extra step will give a professional look to your floor.

To screen sand, you need a buffer. And you still need your PPE.

Screen sanding levels any unevenness you missed or couldn’t get with the sander. It will also buff out any scratches you left while sanding.

For the smoothest and best looking surface, use broad strokes as you push the buffer.

Again, once you’re done screen sanding, clean up the floor. 

Step #5 Apply the Wood Stain 

Step #5 Apply the Wood Stain

How to Refinish Wood Floors Step-by-Step


Now you’re to the fun part of refinishing the wood floor. It’s the painting and picking the stain you want to use. You can switch it up if you don’t want the same look you had in the first place.

You will need a face mask while you apply the stain so you don’t inhale any fumes. Some stains are stronger than others in stench.

Use a foam applicator to apply the wood stain. Follow the grain of the floorboards as you paint it on.

When you apply too much wood stain, you can use paper towels to soak it up.

Depending on how big your floor is, it’s going to be a long process to hand apply wood stain. But it’s worth it.

Once you’ve stained the entire wood floor, you have to wait for the floor to dry to go on to the next step.

It varies on how long it can take to dry but make sure it’s fully dry before moving on to step six. 

Step #6 Apply the Finish 

You’re almost to the last step of refinishing your hardwood flooring, which is applying the finish. There are several finishes for you to choose from.

A satin or matte sheen looks the best, especially if you have any nicks or damage on your floor.

A paint roller and a face mask are all you need for this step.

Start as far as you can from the door. This is so you don’t end up stuck in the corner.

Paint along the grain of the floorboards like you did with the wood stain.

Now, you wait for the finish to dry. This usually takes at least a day but it depends on the finish you chose for your wood floor.

Step #7 Sand One More Time 

Last, you need to sand your hardwood flooring one more time with the big electric sander.

Certain finishes can cause the wood to swell. Wood fibers can even harden. Sanding it one more time will rid you of those hard spots on your new gorgeous hardwood floor.

This last time sanding doesn’t have to be as intense as the first time. You can skip over smooth areas and head to the botched areas. 


See? Refinishing your wood floor doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s a long process but with hard work, you’ll finish in no time.

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