Bring Old Hardwood Floors Back To Life

Because of their warmth and natural appearance, hardwood floors have long been a popular flooring choice among homeowners. Nice hardwood floors also add value to homes, but unfortunately, they are often neglected. Like all flooring, hardwood floors can take a beating – especially when they aren’t cared for properly. The good news, though, is that through the process of refinishing, it is possible to bring your hardwood back to life, adding value and beauty to your home.

When to Refinish Hardwood Floors

It’s not always easy to tell when it’s the right time to refinish the floors in your home. Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Scratches
  • Dull Finish
  • Dents or Gouges
  • Water Penetration through Existing Finish
  • Uneven Surface

DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Once you’ve determined that your floor needs to be refinished and you’ve decided to take on the project yourself, there are certain steps that you need to follow to ensure that the process is successful.

Prep Work

The first step in refinishing your floors is prepping the space. Remove all furniture and wall hangings, and seal off the doorway so dust from sanding does not spread throughout your home. Look for any holes in the wood, and seal them as needed. Clean the space thoroughly, removing as much dirt and debris as possible.


In order to refinish your floors, you need to remove the top layer of worn wood. To do this, you will most often use a high-powered drum sanders. These sanders can be rented at home improvement centers. You’ll also need a hand sander for sanding along the edges and in corners.

While sanding, be careful to do so evenly. Move in a straight path in the same direction as the floor boards, and keep the sander moving at all times to avoid wearing grooves or dents in the wood. When you’re ready to move on to another row, overlap the previous row by one plank. Check your sandpaper frequently to make sure it isn’t worn out or clogged, and replace it as needed. If your sander has a bag to collect the dust, empty it regularly.

You’ll need to go over your floor several times using different grits of sandpaper. You should use 20-grit sandpaper for your first pass, 60-grit for your second pass and 120-grit for your final pass. After your final pass, remove all the dust, and thoroughly examine the floor for any spots you may have missed.

Once you’re certain that the floor has been sanded evenly, clean up all traces of dust in the room. In addition to thoroughly cleaning the floor, you need to clean the walls, switch plates, windowsills, etc. Prior to staining and sealing your floor, you need to be absolutely certain that the room is completely free of dust.

Staining and Sealing

If you want to add a stain to your floor, you can do so once the dust has been removed. Apply stain in the direction of the wood grain. After your stain has dried – or if you are not staining your floor – apply sealant. Begin by cutting in the areas around the perimeter of the room. Then, cover the rest of the floor using a lambs-wool applicator. Be sure to overlap the areas where you cut in to ensure proper, even coverage.

Allow the sealant to dry for 24 hours before buffing with a power buffer. Vacuum up the residue, then apply a second coat following the same procedure as before.

By following these steps, you can bring virtually any old hardwood floor back to life. Though not difficult, this project does require patience and attention to detail to ensure a desirable outcome. When you take your time and work with care, you can turn your old, damaged floor into the centerpiece of your home.