5 Steps to Refinish Hardwood Floors: All You Need to Know

If your hardwood floors are dull, discolored, or damaged with minor scratches and dings, you may be able to refinish them instead of replacing them entirely. 


Refinishing your floors, whether done on your own or professionally through a service like Hardwood Planet, can save you a significant amount of money and make them look like they’re brand new. Bringing back the life in your hardwood floors can be done in five basic steps.

Step 1: Assess Your Floors

Since refinishing your floors will require sanding away a part of the boards, you will need to have at least 1/32 of an inch of wood available on your floors. This will allow you to sand the top layer away and still have a structurally sound floor. 

Since wood floors can be refinished several times, you’ll want to make sure your floor has enough surface left to refinish them again, especially if you’re unsure how many times they’ve been refinished in the past.

Step 2: Prepare the Floor for Sanding

The success of your refinishing project is dependent on your preparation, so take the time to make sure the floor is completely smooth before you start. Remove all nails, shoe molding, doors that cover wood floor thresholds, and any other objects that protrude from the floor that could damage a sanding pad. 

Keep track of any nails you tap into the floor so you can fill them in later. Tape off your floor registers so they do not get scratched during sanding, and cover all doors, electrical outlets, and vents with plastic sheeting.

Step 3: Sand the Floors

If this is your first time refinishing floors, use an orbital sander, which takes longer, but is less aggressive than a drum sander. The first pass with a sander should be a rough sand using a 36-grit or similar sandpaper. Between the rough sand and the smooth sand, correct any imperfections, like nail holes and gouges, in the wood planks with a color-matched wood filler. 

Once you’ve filled the imperfections, use a 50- or 60-grit sandpaper and sand the floor with the orbital sander a second time. Repeat the process a third time with an 80-grit sandpaper. Be sure to thoroughly clean and dry all surfaces prior to the next step.

Step 4: Stain the Floors (If Desired)

Once your floors are fully sanded, cleaned, and completely dried, they’re ready to be stained, if desired. You can also leave them in a natural state, which is often the choice of homeowners who want a more rustic look in their home. Staining wood floors is a specialized process, so make sure you follow all directions on the staining product you choose.

Step 5: Seal the Floors

The final step for refinishing hardwood floors is to seal them using oil- or water-based polyurethane. This will keep them protected from scratches, spills, and other hazards. 

Either type of polyurethane works fine. It comes down to color preference, as oil-based polyurethane will have a slightly yellow color when dried, whereas water-based polyurethane will dry clear. Use two coats of oil-based polyurethane and three coats of water-based polyurethane for best results.


There’s no need to completely replace your wood floors to get a new-looking floor. Refinishing hardwood floors is an excellent way to restore the wood’s natural beauty and save money at the same time. 

If you’re hesitant about refinishing your floors on your own, consider hiring a professional like Hardwood Planet to refinish them for you. Either way, refinishing them will allow you to get more life out of your hardwood floors than you ever thought possible.

Abigail Jones

Hi, I'm Abigail. I like spending time tearing my house apart and putting it together back again. Join me on home improvement tutorials, tips on my blog.

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