hardwood floor refinishing

How do refinish hardwood floors?

May 20, 2022
 |  By: 
Improvix Hardwood Flooring

Over time, the floor finishes on a hardwood floor will begin to turn dull and show scratches. Because the floor's appearance is subjected to so much traffic and abuse, it does not take long for beautiful hardwood floors to become unsightly. Scratches, nicks, and gouges eventually mar its surface, while everyday wear and tear leave it dull and lifeless. Sanding the entire floor is a significant job that will make your wood floor look new.

In the case of hardwood floors, the sanding process can be a bit more complicated than painting because it involves using grits to remove loose particles of wood. A typical home might have one or two types of wood used in its design. For example, choosing between oak and pine for your flooring, you'll want to use different grits on each type of wood.

Sanding dust and refinishing the floor can help restore its appearance. Sanding and a refinishing process can be a pretty big job. Removing the old finish and sanding it down to bare wood can take much time, but the results are worth it. Hardwood floor refinishing is necessary to preserve the wood and make the boards shine again.

Before You Begin

If your hardwood floor has lost its luster, you may wonder whether it is time to refinish it. Refinishing hardwood floors is a labor-intensive process, but it can bring out the natural beauty of the wood and make a room feel completely fresh. Solid hardwood floors, made entirely of solid maple, oak, or other hardwood, might benefit from aggressive polishing and refinished floors.

Test for VOCs

Hardwood floor refinishing is a job that's best left to professionals, especially if your wood floors are varnished or shellacked. However, if you are careful and follow safety precautions, you may be able to do it yourself. Before you begin any refinishing project, testing for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is crucial. VOCs are emitted from materials such as paint, varnish, and shellac. They can cause health problems in humans and pets, particularly prolonged or repeated exposure.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), common symptoms of VOC poisoning include eye irritation, nausea; dizziness; nose and throat discomfort; fatigue; headache, allergic skin reaction, and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.

Steps for refinishing hardwood floors

The sanding and refinishing of a hardwood floor may seem like prep work. Still, it is not that complicated if you break it down into individual steps. The key to refinishing hardwood floors is sanding and matching the wood grain. You will want to use progressively finer grits of sandpaper at each sanding stage, from initial rough-sanding to final polishing.

Here is how to sand and refinish hardwood floors:

Step 1: Preparation

Sweep the wood floor thoroughly to ensure no dust or debris on the surface. It is essential to keep dust out of the room while sanding because it can cause streaks in the floor finish; if you do not have an air filtration system, set up containment barriers around the doorways leading into other rooms.

Tape plastic sheets over any vents in the room, ensuring they are completely sealed. Ensure there are no gaps between the plastic sheets and the ductwork—also, plastic tape sheeting overheating vents to keep dust from getting into them.

Step 2: Remove Furniture

You will need to move all the furniture in your home and other items out of the room. Sanding and replacing hardwood floors can be messy, so you need plenty of drop cloths to protect your carpeting. You will also need to make sure that you have removed any baseboard moldings, door trim, and old finish before you begin sanding the hardwood floors.

Suppose you are refinishing wood floors and nails sticking up through the boards. In that case, you will want to hammer them below the surface, so they do not affect your finish sanding screen operation too much. After sanding the first few boards, it is also possible that you may find nails that were not visible before and need to be hammered into place.

Step 3: Sanding the Floor

Begin standing at one end of the room and work your way toward the other end. You should use a circular motion when working with a drum sander, as it can leave a circular pattern in the wood if you go back and forth instead of in a circle. Most drum sanders have a handle that lets you slightly lift them off the floor when going around corners or when starting or stopping.

It is critical to understand how to start and stop the sander. When you switch on the machine, make sure the drum is elevated off the bare wood floor, then lower it as you start going ahead with a long stroke. Raise the drum before stopping moving the sander once you reach the far wall. Failure to final sanding in this procedure might result in floor dips and significant damage.

Step 4: Remove the Baseboard

Use a utility knife to score around the baseboard, then carefully pry it loose with a flat pry bar and hammer. Wrap the blade in a soft cloth to protect the floor while removing the baseboards.

Step 5: Cut in Along the Walls Using a Paint Brush

Masking off along walls will help to prevent damage when sanding. Use a paintbrush to cut in along the wall creating an even line that meets your masking tape.

Step 6: Install Dust Barrier

Installing a dust barrier will help prevent dust from getting all over your house while refinishing your hardwood floors. You can install a roll of plastic or fabric drop cloths on your baseboards and secure it with duct tape or staples, ensuring no gaps where dust can escape into other rooms. A HEPA filtration system is essential for household dust and debris, preventing them from circulating in your home and settling on furniture, clothing, and food.

Material Required

Refinishing hardwood floors is a significant project, but it is very doable for most homeowners. A successful refinish using the right tools, high-quality materials, and taking your time. Suppose you are willing to invest some time in preparation and go slow during the actual sanding screen and staining process. In that case, you can get even better results than a professional. Before you start, knowing what materials and tools are needed to complete the job is essential.

There are two main types of sanders and edgers:

Drum sanders and orbital or square-buff orbital sanders and edgers. Drum sanders are large, powerful machines that have circular sanding surfaces. Orbital or square-buff floor sanders are minor, portable power tools with a rectangular base covered with an abrasive material. These tools smooth the floor's surface and remove minor imperfections. Many contractors use both types of equipment to achieve the desired results.

In addition to sandpaper, you will need specifically formulated products such as wood stain, oil-based polyurethane (which provides a protective coating), and abrasives like steel wool, which is used in between coats of oil-based urethane. You will also need safety equipment, including goggles, a dust mask, and earplugs.

Safety considerations

Sanding is a necessary step to refinishing your hardwood floors. You might wonder about the dangers and safety considerations if you have never done it. It also creates dust, so you must take precautions to avoid breathing in wood particles that can damage your lungs.

It also creates dust that can cause health problems, from breathing issues to skin irritation. It also produces fumes that endanger people with respiratory conditions or chemical sensitivities. Power tools are typically required to refinish a hardwood floor, and these tools can accidentally cause injuries if not used correctly.

Here are some tips for protecting yourself from the dust while sanding your wood floors:

1. Keep a supply of particle masks on hand:

You will need to wear one any time you sand or do other work that generates dust. 3M makes a variety of styles, including ones with a two-strap design that will not slip off your face as quickly as the single-strap versions.  

2. Use a respirator mask:

Particle masks do not protect against fumes from finishes and wood stains, so if you are using these products, you will need to wear a respirator mask instead of a particle mask (or in addition to it). A respirator mask does not protect against inhalation of dust particles because it is designed for protection against chemicals.

Choosing a finish

Refinishing your hardwood floor can refresh a room so that no other hardwood flooring option can match. However, choosing the right finish for your hardwood floors is vital. Hardwood flooring finishes in various sheens, including matte, satin, semi-gloss, and high gloss.


Matte finishes have very little or no shine at all, and they help hide imperfections in the wood and make scratches less visible. They also resist dirt better than higher sheen finishes.


Satin finishes are less shiny than semi-gloss finishes, but they still reflect some light. They provide a subtle sheen for informal settings or low-traffic spaces, like bedrooms.


Gloss finishes are the most durable and easiest to clean the floor. They are best suited for high-traffic areas (like kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways). They can help disguise imperfections on the floor, like dings and scratches. Glossy floor finishes create a more formal look, so if your house tends to be on the casual end of the spectrum, it may be best to skip the gloss.


Semi-gloss floors have a slight shine and provide some of the benefits of the glossy floor without all the glare. They are an excellent option for living rooms and other spaces visible from outside the house (especially if they face south or west) since they will not reflect every ray of sunlight that hits them. The semi-gloss floor can also make a space feel brighter without being too formal or stark.


Why is satin finish preferred?

Satin floor finishes are often considered the compromise between matte and glossier finishes. They are not as shiny as semi-gloss or high gloss but more reflective than matte finishes.

How to finalize the thickness?

Make sure you buy one with an "N95" rating, which means it filters out 95 percent of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns in size. (These are sold at most home centers and hardware stores.)

How to ensure hygiene while sanding?

Before sanding, vacuum the entire perimeter to eliminate any dust or dirt that might scrape the floor during the sanding process. While sanding, you should also wear a dust mask and safety eyewear. Stain or refinish – this is an optional step; if you do not want to stain your floor, you will need at least three coats of varnish or water-based polyurethane to get a long-lasting sheen!

Looking for professional help?

Whether fixing floor cleaner residue or dust mop process, it is hard to do everything alone when unaware of the process. If you are looking for professional help in your area that might help you fix the problem, call Hardwood Flooring Chicago on the number (773) 345-9719.

We are the best company For Hardwood Floor Refinishing & Installation. Contact us to know more about offers and deals.

Improvix  Hardwood Flooring

3745 W Montrose Ave Unit 1 Chicago IL 60618 

(773) 345-9719