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How Floor Refinishers Refinish Hardwood Floors

If your floors have wide, deep scratches or the top polyurethane layer is completely worn off, they may need refinishing. A floor refinisher will apply a new finish to protect the wood.

The finish can be a stain or varnish; varnishes leave no visible coat so do not change the color of the wood. Trowel filling is used to patch small gaps. This is not a permanent fix, as wood compresses during winter and expands during summer. Contact Floor Refinishers NJ now!

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Before your floors can receive a new finish, they need to be sanded. This is an important step in refinishing hardwood floorsand it is also the most time-consuming part of the process. It requires a drum or belt sander, a dust mask and some elbow grease. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove the old finish, and then move on to finer grits to smooth the wood. Make sure to sand in the direction of the grain to avoid uneven surfaces.

When sanding, it is best to remove all furniture from the room. This will allow for a more even sanding and help prevent damage to the edges of the boards. Also, it is a good idea to cover any vents and switches with plastic sheeting to prevent dust from blowing throughout the house.

It is recommended to use a drum sander when sanding the main area of the floor, and an edger for the corners. It is also a good idea to use a vacuum system that can suck up the dust as you go to minimize the amount of dust produced.

Once the sanding is complete, the floor must be thoroughly cleaned. It is important to get all the grit out of the grooves and crevices on the wood. This is especially important for engineered floors that have a very thin wear layer and can be easily damaged.

If you are going to stain your floor, it is a good idea to let the sanding settle for a few days before applying the stain. This will allow the stain to adhere properly to the sanded surface. It is also a good idea to apply several coats of the final finish, allowing each one to dry between applications.

The average cost for refinishing is $3 to $8 per square foot, depending on the type of finish you are using, the square footage of the floor and local labor costs. In addition, you will need to purchase a variety of supplies, including stain and varnish. It is a good idea to use low VOC stain and varnish for your floors, as these are less harmful to the environment.


The staining process is an important step that can make or break the overall look of your hardwood floors. Unlike finish, which is designed to protect your wood floor and adds only a clear color layer to it, stain actually colors the hardwood, enhancing or sometimes completely changing its appearance. Because of this, stain must be carefully matched to the color of your home and should be thoroughly stirred before applying.

It’s important that your refinisher use only quality stain products made specifically for hardwood floors. The best stains are oil-based and low in VOC (volatile organic compounds). They’re also tinted so that the final color can be adjusted. Your refinisher should also choose a high-quality brush or lambswool applicator. Generally, the stain will be applied in two-foot sections. After each section, the floor should be wiped down with a clean rag to remove any excess product. This will help the stain to set evenly.

Once the stain has dried, it’s time to apply a polyurethane varnish. Using a natural-bristle or lambswool brush, your refinisher will work in manageable sections to ensure even distribution of the finish. Your refinisher will then wipe down the surface to remove any residue and let the floor dry for a few hours before you walk on it again.

Lastly, your refinisher will apply three to four coats of polyurethane to protect and beautify your newly stained hardwood floors. This final protective layer is vital to the longevity of your floors. Your refinisher will then buff the finish with a special pad to smooth it and create a smooth, glassy surface.

Staining and finishing are processes that can be done by a skilled DIYer, but it’s best to have your floor professionally refinished by a professional flooring expert. Your floor refinisher will be experienced in working with power tools, and they’ll know how to best prep the hardwood for staining or finishing. They’ll also be able to provide you with a wide range of finish and stain options so that you can get the exact look you want for your floor.


Before beginning the actual work of refinishing, a floor refinisher should ensure that all tools are in place and ready to use. Then he or she should wear protective eyewear, ear plugs and a respirator mask. The contractor should also put down painter’s tape and masking tape around the baseboards to prevent sanding dust from making its way up onto them. It is also important to remove any HVAC vent covers and to hammer down nail heads that protrude from the wood flooring’s finished surface.

Next, the hardwood floor must be cleaned with a residue free cleaner to remove any dirt and dust that may have accumulated in the cracks and crevices of the old finish. The floor is then scuff sanded lightly with 150-grit sandpaper to prepare it for the oil finish. The scuffing also helps to open up the bare wood to accept the oil. If the wood is extremely hard and case hardened, it can be treated with a specialized oxalic acid wood bleach to make it more responsive to the oil.

After scuff sanding and cleaning, the refinisher can begin the staining process. Whether the flooring is being stained for aesthetic reasons or as part of a repair job, the contractor should be sure to use a stain that matches the existing color of the floor. It is also important to let the stain dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The refinisher can then begin applying the new topcoat. He or she should apply a minimum of four coats to fully protect the floors. If the client opts for a water-based finish, the contractor should not have to sand the floor after every application, but it is still recommended that he or she sand between each one.

Polyurethane is the most common topcoat finish for wood floors, and it is available in a variety of sheen levels. It creates a clear, almost plastic-like layer that is durable and resistant to water and other stains.

It is also possible to have a wood floor sealed with a natural oil, such as pure tung oil. This option allows the wood to absorb the oil and protect it from moisture, but it will need to be reapplied more frequently than water-based finishes.


If you’re not comfortable with sanding, a floor refinisher can apply a finish that will refresh your floors without sanding. Products like Rejuvenate Wood Floor Restorer have a thick consistency that will fill light scratches and soften dings in your hardwoods. The process is a bit time-consuming—especially if you’re refinishing more than 500 square feet of hardwoods—but it’s a less invasive option.

When you’re choosing a finish for your wood floors, make sure to choose a product that’s water-based. This type of polyurethane will dry faster, allowing your refinisher to complete the job more quickly. It also has fewer VOCs, which means that it won’t leave an unpleasant odor in your home. Additionally, a water-based polyurethane will look clearer on the surface of your floor (oil-based finishes have an amber tint) and resist further yellowing much better than an oil-based product.

Once your refinisher has finished applying the polyurethane to your hardwoods, it’s important that you let the floors dry thoroughly before moving any furniture back in place. Hardwood floors can emit strong fumes that linger in your home for hours, and it’s best to give them plenty of time to air out before you walk on them again.

It’s a good idea to ask your refinisher how many coats of polyurethane he or she intends to apply. While some refinishers will only apply two coats, three is a more appropriate option for most floors. Three coats will provide a deeper richness in color and increase the durability of your hardwood floors.

While refinishing your floors can be a major investment, it can add value to your home and last for a long time. Keep in mind, however, that your floors are not indestructible and will eventually need to be replaced. Some signs that it’s time to replace your hardwoods include mold or rot over the wood, extreme wear, or compromised integrity.

Refinishing or resurfacing your floors can make them look brand new again—and improve the quality of your home’s interior design. The key is to choose the right option for your needs and budget.