Hardwood Floor Installation & Refinishing

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors: 8 Tips for Homeowners

Floors are always an aesthetic part of any interior design project. Over time, floors have undergone many transformations, ranging from mud flooring, brock flooring, flagstone flooring, cement concrete flooring, tiles flooring, mosaic flooring, glass flooring, and hardwood flooring.

Hardwood floors look absolutely stunning and are preferred by many homeowners. If properly maintained, hardwood floors can last for decades. However, over time, hardwood floors may lose their luster and shine, especially when yours is a bigger family, pets running around, or there are frequent guests visiting your home.

Surely you would want to refinish your older hardwood floors to restore their shine and look. However, you need to be careful throughout the process, as a single mistake will be there forever. You would definitely want to hire a professional team for Hardwood Floor Refinishing in Wheaton, like Big Bro Hardwood, to avoid such errors and achieve marvelous results, which is quite impossible to attain through DIYs.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing & Installation-Big Bro Hardwood

Still, if you want to try DIY for hardwood floor refinishing to save those extra bucks, here are 8 Effective Tips for you.

1. Clear Your Room

First things first, make it a point to clear the area completely by removing all furniture, appliances, curtains, rugs, carpets, and other knicks and knacks. You need to do this before beginning the sanding process.

You can also protect these items by covering them with plastic sheeting or plastic and painter’s tape because even if they are not in the same room, sawdust can travel very easily through doors, windows, and other openings. You can also cover any door and window openings and vents to prevent dust from traveling across your rooms.

In this regard, we would advise you to seal the room you would like to sand from other rooms and areas of your house. You should also tape all your under-door gaps, cracks, electrical outlets, and other openings.

If there are any loose floorboards, you must secure or fix them prior to the sanding procedure. You can nail down the loose floorboards to ensure they don’t wobble during a series of applications.

You also need to repair any existing floor damages, such as scratches, holes, dents, etc., using a putty knife or wood putty. You also need to remove any mold formations, especially around the walls and corners. By doing so, you can prevent any risks of damages caused due to mold buildup.

Next, you also need to check for any nail heads sticking up on the floor. Drive all stuck-out nails into the hardwood floor. Nails that are not evenly leveled with the surface would tear the sandpaper, thus delaying your floor refining work. Besides, nails sticking out of the floors may also be injurious to you.

2. Clean Your Floors

Next, make your floors completely free of all dust, dirt, hair, debris, and other pollutants. Clean your floors using hardwood floor cleaner.

You can also hire a professional cleaning service to make sure your floors are thoroughly cleaned. It’s important to clean your floor before applying the new finish; otherwise, these pollutants and dirt will lay there forever under the fresh coating.

If you are cleaning the floors yourself, it’s best to use vacuum cleaners to make the process easier and faster. Because you need to save your energies in the sanding process as it is a bit of work! You can use brooms and dustpans too if you don’t have a vacuum cleaner.

3. Sand Your Old Finishing

Get hold of efficient sanding equipment that enables you to remove all old finishes easily without professional help. For instance, you can use random orbital sanders as they don’t require much experience. Besides, these DIY-friendly sanders are less likely to damage your wooden floor.

Make sure you have the right equipment, safety tools, etc., to ensure a seamless and safe sanding process. Some of the common tools and items you would require include –

  • hardwood floor cleaner,
  • putty knife,
  • nailset,
  • cotton rags,
  • sanding screen,
  • sandpapers,
  • wood filler,
  • painter’s tape,
  • paintbrushes,
  • paint tray,
  • lamb’s-wool applicator or foam roller,
  • mineral spirits,
  • polyurethane floor finish,
  • plastic sheets,
  • interior wood stain.

Once you have got hold of these basic tools and objects, you are ready to sand your floor. You must also ensure that you have the right sandpaper.

For example, you can start with the coarse-grit one to remove surface scratches and old finishes. But never use a sandpaper or floor sander having grits that are coarser than 60; otherwise, it may damage the flooring.

Try starting with the tough stains and grits and gradually proceed with fine grits for a smooth and even surface. Keep in mind that you need to keep your sander moving constantly and not stick to a single spot over a prolonged period of time to avoid uneven surfaces.

It’s better to sand the floor as you would do while mowing your lawn. Try proceeding row by row and by taking several passes and overlapping runs. Although the process is a bit hectic, it’s worth it in the end. If you feel it’s difficult to manage yourself, consider hiring a professional Hardwood Floor Refinishing in Hinsdale.

Sanding is a necessary step in hardwood refinishing work as it helps to remove any old stains or marks, thus making it ready for the final step, that’s refinishing. Sanding can be done in two ways – you can either move with the wood grain or move against it.

Sometimes, the corners are too tough for the normal sanders and sandpapers to remove those stains or grime buildup. In that case, you may need a putty knife or a scraper to remove those stubborn grimes.

4. Start Refinishing Your Floor

After the cleaning and sanding work, it’s time to start the refinishing process. Start around the corners of your room by using smaller brushes to apply the finishing product. Continue applying the finish to the remaining portions for the room using a roller.

Another tip would be to start from the innermost part of the room so that you can have an exit path after the entire room is done. In this way, you don’t need to step over your refinished hardwood to leave the room as you may ruin the application.

5. Apply Wood Stain 

Wood stains help to enhance the durability and look of the woodwork. Wood stains are nothing but paints for wooden surfaces. They are composed of colorants suspended or dissolved solvents or other mediums and are designed to add depth and color to the wood.

Wood stains help to bring out the natural grain of your hardwood floors and give them an enriching look. You can choose from a range of shades like pine, walnut, cherry, and others. Deeper-tones wood stains would look elegant and classy, but you can also go for lighter shades for a neutral look.

The best technique to apply wood stains is to use an applicator and proceed with small areas at a time. After you are done and satisfied with the look, you can rub off the excess stains with a cloth or rag.

If you feel that your floor takes the stain unevenly, you can apply a sealer coat for an uneven finish. But before opting for this option, test a small area first and choose a portion that would remain covered under some furniture.

If you are happy with the results, go on and apply the sealer evenly. Again, you have to be careful with this step to avoid lap marks or skipped areas. If you feel it’s way too much work to do it yourself, consult a company renowned for Hardwood Floor installation in Hinsdale.

6. Apply Polyurethane Carefully

Polyurethane is a wood finish having excellent self-leveling properties. It is used to coat wood surfaces, such as hardwood floors and furniture, to protect them from scratches and water damage. In other words, polyurethane makes your wood surfaces more durable and helps them retain their stains longer.

To achieve that smooth and glossy finish, you need to be extra careful during the application. There are two methods of polyurethane application.

  • The first is to pour it and spread it across the surface using an 18-inch wool applicator. This technique is usually used by professionals. If you are a beginner, you can avoid this as you may not like the thick layer that may be created over your hardwood floor.


  • The second method is to roll on the poly with a high-density foam roller. It’s suitable for novices who are DIY-ing their hardwood refinishing work. Using this technique, you can achieve a thin and even look. Besides, this method also helps you to achieve a glassy smooth finish, and most importantly, it can dry up quickly.

At times, there may be hair marks of stuck hair under the polyurethane coating. These can get quite stubborn and don’t come off easily from around the corners. You can use pins to dig them out carefully from under a dried polyurethane coating. All the hair marks would go away after a second poly coating.

7. Always Have an Exit Strategy

You will need to make sure you don’t step over your work during the entire hardwood refinishing job. Therefore, we would advise you to begin your applications from the wall opposite the exit door. For better results, start along parallel rows and move towards the wall that has the exit door.

Gradually you will need to change your work patterns once you approach the door. In that case, you will need to work from the end walls and proceed towards the door.

8. Some Health Tips

The reason why many people don’t DIY hardwood refinishing work is that the equipment can be quite heavy. Besides, if you don’t have the right protective equipment, you may fall sick due to flying sawdust.

If you feel you don’t have the right tools, it’s better to hire a reputed company dealing with professional Hardwood Floor Refinishing in Burr Ridge. Again, if you plan to do it yourself, here are a few safety tips.

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects yourself: Be careful while working on the floor and lifting heavy equipment. At times, long hours of hardwood work may result in back injuries and headaches. While getting involved in any home improvement project that involves long hours of work and using heavy equipment, you need to take the necessary precautions to avoid back pain.

To install/ refinish a hardwood floor, you would need to transport sanders from the rental store to your house. We would advise you not to transport those tools yourself, especially if it’s upstairs.

Rental stores have helpers who transport the machinery to your house with zero to minimal charges. Alternatively, you can use ramps to lift the device to your desired room.

Similarly, you may need to shift heavy furniture in and out of the room both before and after the refinishing work. Take the help of your family members or a professional.

  • Mind your posture: You will need to bend down for hours during the cleaning, sanding, and coating or varnishing process. Maintain a good posture to avoid back injuries and back pain. Make sure to keep your neck and back straight. You may need a small chair tool to support your back posture.


  • Use safety tools: Hardwood refinishing and installation involve the production of dust and fumes in ample amounts. You want to protect your respiratory health in the process.

Wear proper dust masks, goggles, head caps, etc., to avoid sawdust and other pollutants from entering your internal organs. You may also need earplugs to protect your auditory health while using noisy machinery. Stock up on these safety essentials inadequate numbers before beginning the hardwood reinstalling.

Additionally, do invest in vinyl gloves, NIOSH-approved vapor respirators (go for the organic ones), and eye protection glasses with splash guards. You will need them while applying polyurethane and sealers.

We know the entire DIY hardwood refinishing process may sound fun and exciting. But you need to take care of your health and know the expectations before beginning the process.

If any time you are stuck in between any of the refinishing phases, feel free to contact Big Bro Hardwood. We have been installing and refinishing floors for years now and have mastered the skills. No job is small for us! We ensure your work never halts in the mid.

Contact (630) 418 4139 if you need any type of assistance from us.