DIY: Refinishing Hardwood Floors


With all this time on my hands, my DIY bone has been ACHING for some major home renovations. I recently planned on replacing the carpet in my living and dining room, but upon further inspection of the original hardwood floors after ripping up the old carpet, I have decided to try to refinish the hardwood floors myself. A friend of mine recently refinished her own hardwood floors, and I am a firm believer in my ability to do anything if I just take the time. So here are my step-by-step instructions for sanding, staining and coating hardwood floors.

  • Remove any carpet, pad and glue that may still be stuck to your floor. Also remove tack strips if you have them. Nails can be hammered into the floor, and using a nail set will prevent hammer marks.
  • Clean the floor THOROUGHLY. Sweep and scrub. Yes, I highly recommend doing what our grandmothers and their mothers before them did; get on your hands and knees and scrub the floor. The cleaner it gets, the longer it lasts.
  • To remove the old stain from the wood, you can use a chemical stripper, but it’s a quick fix and won’t work well on older floors that need a lot of TLC. On the other hand, if your floors have recently been redone and you just want to change the stain or color, chemical stripping is ok. Be sure your area is well-ventilated regardless of whether you’re using chemicals or a sander.
  • The best way to strip the floors is with the use of a floor sander. You can rent one from Home Depot here. You’ll need to sand the perimeter by hand because most floor sanders won’t get closer than 4-6 inches to the wall. Start with a semi-course grit then do them again with a medium grit. You may have to change the disk on your sanding machine.
  • After sanding, you’ll want to sweep again to get rid of all the dust. Be sure the floor is clean and dry before staining.
  • To stain your floor, pour some stain on the floor and use a lambswool applicator pad to spread the stain slowly and evenly. Give yourself an exit path so you don’t have to walk on the wet stain.
  • Let the stain dry completely. If you want the floor to be darker, add another coat of stain. Let that coat dry completely.
  • Finish your floors with a polyurethane top coat and use a long handled roller. It’s much easier than a brush. You’ll want to wait 24 hours between coats and you’ll need at least 3 coats.

Refinishing original hardwood floors can bring a new look to an old home and even increase your resale value. Taking the time to do it right will pay off in many different ways.