Hardwood-Floor Refinishing Tips for the DIY-er

Hardwood floors are a great flooring option that actually gets better looking over time. Age and wear can give your floors a rustic feel, but if "rustic" isn't exactly what you're looking for, the best news is that you can refinish your floors to make them look like new again. Sanding the boards down and restaining them can give your floors that glossy, traditional look. See below for tips on how to refinish your wood floors yourself.

Here's What You'll Need for the Job:

  • Floor sander (with 30-, 60- and 80-grit sandpaper)
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Painter's tape and plastic (to protect your walls and other furniture/cabinetry)
  • Earplugs (or earmuffs)
  • Protective glasses
  • Knee pads
  • Handheld sander (with angle attachment to get into any corners)
  • Natural bristle brush
  • Foam roller
  • Lambswool applicator
  • Clean rags
  • Stain (in your color choice)
  • Polyurethane (to protect the floors)
  • 120-grit sandpaper or a sanding block


  1. Start by taking everything that you possibly can off of your floors. If you are refinishing the floor in your kitchen, don't worry about the cabinetry. You can cover it with painter's plastic and tape to help protect it from damage when you are sanding. You can take off baseboards if you prefer, but this is not necessary.
  2. Next, use the painter's tape to cover up the baseboards (if you chose to keep them in place), then cover your cabinets with the protective painter's plastic. You can also tape up the painter's plastic about two feet up from the bottom of the wall to help protect your walls from getting damaged when you begin the staining process. Also use the painter's plastic to help prevent sanding dust from spreading throughout the other rooms in your home by putting it up across doorways. Closing your vents will also help prevent the dust from spreading.
  3. Now you can begin sanding your floors. If you don't happen to have a drum sander at your home, you should be able to rent one from a local tool-rental shop. Have the people at the shop show you how to use the sander properly, and be sure you get the different grits of sand paper (which you should also be able to purchase from the tool-rental shop).
  4. Sand your floors along the grain using the 30-grit sandpaper first. Then vacuum up any dust. Move to the 60-grit sandpaper, then vacuum up the dust again.
  5. Before moving to the next grit, use the wood fill to fill in any deep scratches and allow it to dry. Then use the 80-grit sandpaper and vacuum up the dust again. To get up even more sanding dust, use the clean rags damp with mineral spirits.
  6. Once you have the floor sanded down evenly, you can begin staining. Applying the stain is a two-person job. One person should use a foam roller to apply the stain along the grain of the floor. The second person should wipe up the excess stain with a clean rag to help work it into the wood. Allow the first coat to dry, and apply a second coating if you want the floor stain to be darker. 
  7. Finally, you can apply the polyurethane using a natural-bristle brush around the edges and a lambswood applicator around the rest of the floors. Apply it along the grain of your floors to help protect the surface.
  8. Allow the polyurethane to dry completely, and then use 120-grit sandpaper to sand down the polyurethane. Wipe up the sanding dust and then apply a second coating of the polyurethane. You'll need to allow the floors to dry completely to cure. Help speed up the process by using fans and opening up the windows.

Hardwood floors are beautiful, and being able to refinish them is a great thing about them. This is not a project to be taken lightly and is quite a bit of work, so let a professional such as Idaho Hardwood Flooring handle this project if you are a little leery of doing it yourself.