7 Things You Should Know Before Refinishing Old Hardwood Floors

7 Things You Should Know Before Refinishing Old Hardwood Floors

Refinishing a hardwood floor requires good investments of both time and money. A lack of knowledge about refinishing can result in a poorly finished floor that isn’t appealing.

Given below are seven things you should know before refinishing old hardwood floors.

1. Know The Expenses

The first thing you should do before undertaking any kind of refinishing process is to consider all the expenses. The average cost of refinishing a hardwood floor can range anywhere from $1100 to more than $2000. This can vary depending on the area and the kind of company you work with.

If you are doing the refinishing process on your own, it can cost less. However, there are many costs you have to take into account. This includes the cost of the sander, safety gear, additional equipment, stains, and other finishes.

2. Determine The Extent Of Damage

If your hardwood floor is sufficiently worn out and faded with scratches, it might need extra treatment. On the other hand, if there is no indication of any major damage, you can skip certain steps like sanding. Instead of sanding with a heavy sander, you can use sandpaper for wood of correct grit, to prepare it for the finish.

In case of damaged floors, remove the damaged layer by using an electrically powered sander. If your floor has scratches or gauges, you can use different methods to conceal them. For fine scratches, a resin-based colourant or stain marker will do the trick. Deep scratches and gouges can be repaired using wood putty.

3. Determine The Type Of Finish You Want

There are many different types of finishes you can use for your hardwood floor. Each one has a different lasting power and look. The three main kinds of finishes are:

  • Polyurethane: Polyurethane is available in both oil-based and water-based options. Water-based polyurethane is less toxic and dries faster. But it is also less durable and wears out faster than oil-based polyurethane.
  • Varnish: Varnish finishes are more on the glossier side and give the wood a shiny appearance. It enhances the wood grain and also serves as an outer protective seal for the wood.
  • Sealer: Sealers can be clear, translucent or pigmented. They enhance the colour of the wood and might also darken it. Sealers are usually applied to protect the wood from damage.

You may also consider unfinished hardwood flooring, which allows you to apply the finish of your choice. If you want a more natural and rustic look, learn more about unfinished hardwood flooring and its benefits. The type of finish you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the kind of look you want for your floor.

4. You Should Establish A Good Cleaning Routine

Sanding will leave a lot of dust behind, and this must be properly removed using a good vacuum cleaner. After you finish refinishing your hardwood floor, make sure you establish a good cleaning routine to preserve and maintain the new finish.

You must sweep or vacuum 3-4 times a week to prevent dust from settling. Mopping can be performed less often, like 1-2 times a week.

5. Refinishing Should be Completed Within A Short Frame Of Time

The timeline of refinishing will depend on the amount of area you have to cover. If possible, sanding and sealing should be completed on the same day. This will prevent the accumulation of moisture in the freshly sanded wood.

Reserve one day for the drying of the seal or finish. Then, you can finish off with other coats in another 1-2 days.

6. The Room And Floor Must Be Prepared For Refinishing

All furniture should be moved out of the room, along with curtains, carpets, or anything else that gets in the way. The room must be emptied out as much as possible.

You should also ventilate the room before you begin. This will get rid of any toxins from the old chemical coatings on your floor.

7. Hiring A Professional Is A Good Idea

If you have never refurnished a hardwood floor or you don’t have enough experience, you should definitely consider hiring a professional. Refinishing is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process with a big potential for mistakes if you don’t know what you are doing.

Hiring a professional will also eliminate the occurrence of costly mistakes like using the wrong sanding techniques or ending up with a streaky or patchy hardwood floor.


Make sure you know the type of hardwood floor you have so that you can select the stains and finishes accordingly. Different floors have to be treated differently, so look into the specific properties of your floor.


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