Refinishing hardwood floors can quickly turn into a mess for the novice house owner if done without proper guidance. This is especially true for wood floors in vintage or centuries-old houses. If you want your quest for beautiful hardwood floors to not turn into a disaster, here are some few things to keep in mind before you call the professionals to get started on the job.

When to Refinish

Sometimes quick fixes can manage small damages to your hardwood floor. However, that is not enough in case of deep scratches, wide gaps, and dry-cracked floors.

A permit is not required to refinish floors, it can be done anytime during the year. However, if you plan to store your furniture outside during the refinishing project, it is best to avoid the rainy weather.

If you plan on trowel-filling any holes, remember to do that during summer. In winter, the cold and dry floors will compress and squeeze out the material. Also, only fill in large gaps and let the small gaps allow for wood expansion.

Deep Clean Your Floors

Sometimes a thorough clean of your floors can restore some of its former glory.

  1. First, clean the floors using a soft bristle broom so as not to scratch your floor surface.
  2. Next, vacuum your floor to remove dirt from the room corners and hard-to-remove dirt embedded in floorboards.
  3. Lastly, use a hardwood specific concentrated cleaner to mop the floor using a micro cloth. Never use steam, water, sudsy soaps, or vinegar to clean hardwood floors.

Alternatively, you may hire professionals to deep clean the floors by using a scrubbing machine for embedded dirt. Maintain your floor’s luster by vacuuming and mopping at least thrice a week, followed by monthly cleaning with a concentrated cleaner. Lastly, professionally clean your space at least once a year.

Are Dark Floors Better?

You might think that dark floor stain colors are better for hiding stains and dirt better; instead, they make dirt particles stand out more. Grey shades or even white are in trend these days and are worth checking out.

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Should You Choose a Satin or Glossy Finish?

There is no doubt you would clearly be more inclined to choose the more attractive looking glossy finish for your floors, but you may want to reconsider your decision if you have children or elderly relatives at home. Glossy floors are more slippery and prone to accidents; it would be wiser to go for the safer satin floors.

Research Flooring Contractors

Even if you aren’t an expert on hardwood floor finishing, it is useful to have enough idea about it in order to choose a reliable contractor. Visit various showrooms and consult multiple experts in the field to help you choose the best one for you. The previous works of the contractor is also a good measure of their credibility.

Hire Professionals

Aim to interview at least three contractors to compare and choose the best option. Bear in mind that the cheapest is not always the best option. Remember to review their portfolios, read reviews, and cross-check references to gain a solid idea of their reliability. Ensure that their license, bonds, and insurance are up to date and they are qualified to work in your area. If you are concerned about fake reviews, differentiate them from real ones by user experience details which will be present in real reviews.

You must also go through the Better Business Bureau for complaints about the contractor and their response to the problems. All contractors make mistakes, but a good contractor will quickly resolve issues for customer satisfaction.

After you have settled on a contractor, it is essential to understand their scope of work as the charge rates will differ depending on that. For example, clarify who will remove the window treatments and furniture from the room. The contractor will charge you more if their workload is more.

Determine Your Budget and Price Range

Professionals usually charge per square foot, and cost can vary among contractors. It depends on a number of factors which includes:

  • Your region and home accessibility.
  • Number of rooms.
  • Flooring, e.g Vinyl, and carpets need to be removed before working on the floor.
  • Floor condition after coating or floor material has been pulled out
  • The amount of work done including finish coats, stains, etc.

Expect to spend anywhere between $3.33-$4.26 per square foot, which may increase if you live in an apartment with elevators or no parking space.

Stay Elsewhere During the Project

You should consider staying over at family or friends preferably near your house, especially if refinishing work is extensive. Some reasons for this are:

  • Furniture will need to be moved around rooms or kept out entirely
  • Fine dust will coat the house; this will aggravate asthma or other respiratory conditions and will be problematic if there are little children around
  • Stain and polyurethane used in these finishings can cause unpleasant odors for days
  • Your floor needs a few days to rest before they can be used after the treatment

Moreover, the job can take days to finish, which can be inconvenient for your daily activities at home, so it is better to stay somewhere else comfortably until your floor is ready for you to set foot again.

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Sanding Method To Remove the Finish, Stain, and Damage

The type of sealer or presence of any paint on your floors will determine the sanding on your floors. Sanding is done on waxed, stained, and damaged floors that has been badly worn out.

Usually, hardwood floors are best sanded using wood sanders like the drum sander. A good sander is essential for quality sanding to refinish your hardwood floor. You may choose to work with your own sander to assure quality work. Thorough research will help you choose which one to pick for the job.

Unfortunately, sanding also has its downsides; there is a considerable risk of marks on the floor or even gouging out of the wood if not done probably. You will also require a lot of safety equipment no matter how small the job is.

Another useful tip to keep in mind is to stir the polyurethane between each use, otherwise, your floor will look like it has wet splotches on them.

Screening Method To Remove Finish

This cheap and relatively dust-free method works only on unstained or undamaged floors or non-waxed polyurethane floors. Screens are essentially sanding disks that remove the finish on hardwood floors. It may cost you around $1-$2 per sq.ft.

Know When To Stop

Some floors are worn beyond repair, while others are irreparable no matter how many refinish you get done on them. The solution to both of these situations is to leave them alone. Sometimes the natural look of the floor gives it ‘character,’ and it looks great on its own.

Other Options

For specific areas on the floor that looks worn out, you may opt for a light sanding and then seal that portion. Alternatively, you can rescreen your floor where the current polyurethane is roughed up, followed by buffing the floor and placing a new polyurethane. If none of these options seem viable, laminate your floor until you have saved enough to professionally fix your floors.


The floor is a part of your house and, by extension, of you. It should reflect you while maintaining its original charm. If you choose to refinish your floors, make sure to invest in the right contractor and walk-through the whole process with them. Then, evaluate the results for any issues that may arise, and contact your contractor to resolve them as per your contract.