• Repair and Refinish Hardwood Floors


    Solid hardwood floors can be made to look new again when they are refinished, and many of floors last 100 years or more.
    However, a job poorly done will show the mistakes, so make sure you have good DIY skills and know exactly what you’re doing before you start.
    This house repair guide to refinishing hardwood floors is designed to help. If you want a truly professional job, then hiring a contractor that specializes in this work makes the best sense (as much as we support DIY projects).
    A single room with hardwood flooring can be refinished in a couple of days; a series of rooms or entire house might take a week or more.

    Hardwood Floor Refinishing and Repair Resources

    We cover all aspects of the job here with the goal of helping you understand the scope of the work.
    Then, you’ll have the knowledge to decide whether to do the work yourself or hire a pro. A list of wood floor refinishing tips point out the issues to be addressed during the work.
    Hardwood floor refinishing prices are included for DIY and professional jobs. If you are looking for information about tile, please see our guide, “Repairing Broken Ceramic Tiles” for helpful resources.

    Finally, we include a list of DIY resources that give more in-depth instructions including videos.

    While not an exhaustive list of steps, these tips will show you what the work entails. We include the tools and supplies needed for refinishing hardwood floors.

    • The first tip is to prepare your home for the large amount of dust that is going to be created during the sanding of the floors
    • Cover all HVAC ducts in the room with plastic and tape – it’s not enough to simply close them
    • Seal the bottom of doors leading to other rooms also using plastic sheeting and tape
    • If the hardwood floor is in a room that adjoins a carpeted room, but the floor plan is open, consider hanging plastic sheeting to create a temporary wall
    • Keep the HVAC system off, if possible, while sanding and cleaning up the dust
    • Use a dust mask and eye protection when sanding
    • Remove everything from the room including curtains, books, artwork and photos from the walls
    • Raise low-hanging light fixtures by tying a lower part of the chain to a higher part
    • Look for nails that are sticking up, and sink them below the surface of the wood
    • Nail down loose boards and sink the nail below the surface
    • Replace boards that are cracked or warped and not fitting properly
    • Don’t bother using stripper on the flooring first – the sander will do the job
    • Choose a drum sander with continuous belts for the job and an edge sander too
    • Let the rental place know how many square feet you’re doing, so they’ll give you the right number of replacement sanding belts and discs
    • Change belts frequently to maintain a good sanding surface – you’ll better be able to tell where you’ve sanded and where you haven’t
    • Consider renting from a flooring store rather than a general rental place because you can ask specific questions of flooring experts
    • Remove all baseboard trim and label it, so you know where it goes when reinstalling it, or plan to touch it up later
    • Water stains should come out with a few passes of the sander; pet stains or stains from juice or wine might not come out
    • The floor should be vacuumed after each sanding as you move from coarser to finer sand paper
    • Use a buffer on the floor after the final sanding to remove very fine scratches
    • Before staining, vacuum the floor one last time and wipe it entirely with tack cloth to remove dust
    • Once the floor is clean, start applying stain with a sponge roller
    • Apply the stain evenly working in 2’x3’ sections and then going over the area with a rag to remove excess
    • Work fast enough that the edges won’t dry before you begin to start staining the next section
    • Overlap the area you’ve just stained as you stain the fresh floor
    • Several light coats of stain will look better than fewer heavy coats
    • Use a quality brush for corners and edges
    • Don’t back yourself into a corner—start away from the door and work toward it
    • Your list of tools includes: Tape measure, hammer, nail set, paint scraper for corners, dust mask, eye protection, shop vacuum, china-bristle brush, drum sander and belt sander
    • Your materials list includes: Plastic, tape, finish nails, sanding belts and discs of various grits, sanding screen, oil-based interior floor stain

    Floor Refinishing Costs

    You’ll probably have significant rental costs if you do the job yourself, but it’s still a good way to save money.

    DIY Floor Repair and Refinishing Costs: If you have to replace wood, expect to pay $3 to $5 per square foot for the material. Beyond that, renting sanders will cost $60 to $80 per day, and plan on one to two days per 1,000 square feet of flooring to sand. The sanding belts and discs you need will cost $50 to $80 per 1,000 square feet of flooring.

    Shop vacuums start at about $35. Stain applicators and replacement rollers cost $20 to $35. Stain costs $25 to $35 per gallon, and each gallon covers approximately 200 to 250 square feet. Sealer costs $35 to $40 per gallon, but might not be needed. Read the directions on the stain first; it might include a sealer.

    Professional Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost: If there are not complications with the floor, expect the cost for refinishing to be $2.00 to $3.75 per square foot.

    Saving Money on Hardwood Floor Refinishing

    If you do the work yourself, borrowing the tools rather than renting them is the best way to cut costs.

    When hiring a professional for the work, your best bet to save money is to get several estimates for the work from contractors that know they’re competing. However, always check a few references of the companies to make sure they have good experience. A job done poorly at a cheap price won’t make you happy.

    Resources for DIY Hardwood Floor Repair

    Here are additional resources we think you’ll find helpful as you consider this home renovation project.

    The Space Between – This blog includes quite a few pictures of the equipment needed for floor refinishing and lots more.

    Trust Superior – This page from a Denver flooring company has a video showing the process of sanding and finishing hardwood floors.

    Boyds Hardwood – Here are good sanding tips from another hardwood floor company.


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