5 Things to Know before Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors


There is a reason that most potential home buyers put hardwood flooring on their wish list: hardwood floors are functional and durable and add beauty and a timeless quality to your home's interior.

Hardwood floors are not invincible, however, and eventually you will need to have them refinished. Luckily for most homeowners, refinishing hardwood floors is a straightforward and easy fix to dull, worn-out flooring.

Whether you are hiring an expert in wood floor refinishing or you plan to do the job yourself, we have outlined 5 things you need to know before you get started.

5 Refinishing Tips

Hardwood floors start to look a little run down after about 20 years, so if your floor is a bit lackluster, it is probably time to refinish it to restore its natural beauty. Check out this list of things you need to know before you get started:

  • Most hardwood can be refinished 6‒8 times in its lifetime—Scratches, stains, and overall dullness in hardwood floors can be remedied by refinishing them, and unless your home is very old or the flooring is warped or buckled due to water damage, it is very likely that you can refinish your floors and restore their natural beauty. You need a floor thickness of at least 1/32 of an inch to sand and refinish them, so check this out before beginning the process or purchasing any tools or stains.

  • Don't refinish without professional help—Avid DIYers may plan to tackle the refinishing on their hardwood floors themselves, but we must insist that this is one job where you need a professional! Our argument is that you won't be saving any money with this DIY because the tools you need to do the job properly will cost you more than hiring out the work! Additionally, if you haven't ever done this type of work yourself, you will most likely make a mistake, which will cost you even more money. This is one job that should be left to the pros.

  • Don't refinish flooring during rainy, humid weather—Refinishing flooring typically requires the homeowner to leave the home while the stain sets in or requires that a lot of windows are open to vent the area. During rainy, humid weather, your porous hardwood floors will absorb moisture as soon as the old finish is stripped away. Wood and moisture are a bad combination: warping and buckling may result.

  • Plan on some inconveniences—While the refinishing job itself doesn't take too much time (depending on the size of the space to be refinished) you can expect for your family's life to be disrupted somewhat during the process. Sanding the floors to remove the old finish will create a lot of dust, and all furniture in the immediate area will need to be covered. Here at Emperial Hardwood Floors, we actually have several processes such as hanging protective plastic over the workspace to cut down on dust, but it is impossible to eliminate dust entirely. Additionally, the smell of polyurethane will linger for several days, though you can cut down on the smell by ventilating the rooms and opening up windows.

  • Consider staying somewhere else while the contractor works—Expect at least 24 hours after the refinishing is complete before you can use your floors again. Depending upon how much of your home is covered in hardwood, this restricted access may disrupt your lives considerably beyond a minor inconvenience. Smells and dust aside (which can be tolerated), if you have pets or children in your home, it may be nearly impossible to keep them off the treated area. For this reason, you may want to stay somewhere else while your stain sets in.