How to Refinish Wood Floors | Step by Step Instructions

How to Refinish Wood Floors

Are you looking to refinish your wood floors? If so, you are in luck, as in this article, I will be taking you through the steps to follow to ensure your wood floors maintain their elegant look for an extended duration. This is especially important as hardwoods are usually very robust and durable, so the deformations caused by scratches and imprints should not be a deal-breaker.Therefore, follow these steps below if you want to change the stain shade or if your wood floor has been severely damaged, and restore it to its original condition.

Guideline for Using to Refinish Wood Floors

Step 1: Test for adhesion

When testing the grip of your wooden floor, you need t first select two areas, that is one close to the closet or wall and the other in a high-traffic region. Consequently, clean these areas with a wood floor clear and use a sanding screen to scratch the 6 x 6 area. Once you are done, rub out the sanding residue and then cover around the test area by applying a polyurethane coat. After 24 hours, assess whether the polyurethane is smooth, ignoring any small dust particles that may be showing. Using a coin, scrape the polyurethane and then press it down firmly, without placing too much force. If, with moderate pressure, the polyurethane remains intact and is smooth, this test has been successful, and you can now start recoating the floor. However, if the surface exhibits an orange-peel texture, is cracked or flakes off quickly whenever you scrape, this means the new finish cannot adhere properly due to something on the previous finish. This can either be window cleaner residue, furniture polish, or numerous other items, and regardless of what the problem is, the only solution is to sand down to bare wood then start refinishing the hardwood floors afresh. Pro Tip: If the old floor had an adhesive, you need to spread an adhesive remover on the residual adhesive and then scrub it out, and this will eventually save you plenty of time.

Step 2: Money and materials 

The cost of recoating a standard floor is approximately half that of sanding as well as refinishing it. Typically, a significant amount of the total cost used in refinishing hardwood floors is used on renting a buffer and tools, so the bigger the size of the floor, the higher the total cost. You can get all the essential tools and materials necessary for this project, either online, wood flooring dealers, or at home centers. Pro tip: Because the buffer is a powerful and bulky machine, you should start by first learning how to control it on a smooth concrete floor, while you use the pad only.

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Step 3: Clean the floor 

You should now go ahead and clean your wooden floor to prepare it for refinishing. To do this, you can make use of a blunt knife to scrape up all the materials stuck on it, such as chewing gum. For marks that are tougher to remove, you should need to make use of a scouring pad soaked with mineral spirits.

Moreover, you should make use of pieces of masking tape to indicate areas that are extremely worn away, have ridges, or deep scratches. Pro tip: When cleaning the wood floor, you might find deep scratches that cannot disappear completely as they go into the wood through the finish. Such marks are difficult to remove altogether, so you should instead aim to have them become less visible. If you have a light hardwood floor, you should wet the scratch using mineral spirits, with a wet coat of mineral spirits producing a mark that is similar to that of polyurethane. This might help slightly darken the surface hence make the scratch less noticeable.

Step 5: Buff the floor 

Starting from your room’s wall, move back across the room as you unhurriedly move the buffer right and left. You should go through every area once or twice to prevent cutting through the finish. To have the buffer swing to your right, you need to lift its handle gently and lower its handle to have it swing to the left. As you do this, you should wear a dust mask, seal off your work station, close ducts as well as position fans in open windows to control the amount of dust in the room. You should then proceed to thoroughly clean your room, starting with the moldings, windowsills, and every other surface that dust might collect. Subsequently, use a rag that is lint-free and soaked in mineral spirits to vacuum the floor. This rug needs to have never been washed using a fabric softener as this can hamper the adhesion of polyurethane.]Pro tip: Always make sure the room is as dust-free as possible to avoid dust from settling on the wet polyurethane and consequently forming bumps or craters.

Step 6: Select a finish 

The best finish for your hardwood floors is polyurethane, as it is easy to work with and durable in comparison to other finishes. Typically, the application of oil-based polyurethanes is simpler as they take less time to dry, hence allowing you more time to smooth and spread the finish. Moreover, it has a yellowish hue that gradually darkens over time, and may or may not be ideal for your wood floors depending on the look you desire once you are done refinishing. 

However, this finish has one major downside, that is, the foul smell they produce, thereby necessitating you to either wear a respirator or open the windows. You can opt for the water-based polyurethanes that are slightly more durable compared to the oil-based polyurethanes. These oils have a milky color when wet, but as they dry, they become and remain crystal clear. Thanks to the milky color, it is easy to see this finish, making it less likely that you would miss any spot as you refinish your wood floor. Nevertheless, the application of this water-based finishes is generally trickier due to the faster drying times.Pro Tip: Before you decide which type of polyurethane to use, make sure it is approved for refinishing hardwood floors.


After reading through this article, you are now in an excellent position to refinish your hardwood floors thanks to the clearly outlined instructions mentioned above. Therefore, if you feel your wood floor needs to be refinished, you need not hold back as these steps are easy to follow. After you are done refinishing, you will get to appreciate the outstanding appearance of your wooden floor.

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