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Refinishing Hardwood Flooring - Part 1

Part 2

Hardwood flooring provides a rich, warm, and inviting ambience to any room. However, over time, the finish will wear off and it will need to be rejuvenated. This is a home improvement project where DIY sweat equity really pays. The cost of the materials is only a small percentage of the cost of refinishing a hardwood floor, the vast majority of the cost is in the labor.

DIY hardwood floor refinishing
Figure 1 - Refinishing a hardwood floor

Refinishing a hardwood floor will make a tremendous difference to any room. It is not difficult if done properly with good preparation and planning.

When remodeling a room it is important to consider the sequence of events. I believe in starting at the top and working my down - ceiling to floor. Painting walls and ceiling comes before refinishing the floor. Replacing doors and windows comes before painting. Replacing electrical receptacles and switches comes before painting.

Before starting, consider what finished color and gloss factor you want on your floor. Paint stores carry a multitude of samples of colors and clear finishes. Remember that the color of the floor is relative to the type of wood, its grain, fiber density and a number of other factors. If possible always test an exact piece of wood with the color that you have chosen.

If you have removed wall-to-wall carpeting and are experiencing problems removing the staples that held the under pad to the floor, you may find this of interest: Removing Staples From Flooring.

Remove everything from the room:

Sanding a floor produces vast quantities of fine dust. Even the most expensive power sanders with built in dust collectors do not capture 100% of the dust. For that reason it is imperative that everything be removed from the room.

  • Furniture
  • Window coverings - drapes, window blinds, shutters
  • Light fixtures - glass globes - place plastic bags over light sockets and use garbage bag ties to close
  • Pictures or other wall decorations
  • Plants

Prepare the room for dust containment:

See section on ventilation and containment.

Remove any wax and dirt that has been applied to the floor:

Wax on the floor will clog up the sandpaper within seconds and can become an abrasive that if stuck to the sandpaper will scratch the floor while sanding. Use a high quality wax remover and follow the manufacturers instructions. The same situation applies to any dirt that may be embedded in the flooring. Use a high quality cleaner that does not have any chlorine in it. Chlorine will bleach the natural color out of the floor.