DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Last fall, we refinished our hardwood floors. The whole process took a good long weekend. Many wonder if it is even worth the energy to do-it-yourself. It is definitely a back-breaking job and it makes your house a crazy mess with sawdust EVERYWHERE! But the results are worth it.

Here is a break-down for those who are considering refinishing their own hardwood floors.

Supply List and Cost (for ~600 sq. ft.)

Large floor drum sander
Orbital edger sander
Sandpaper for each sander (60 grit & 100 grit)
(1 day rental)
Funnel $4.00
Watering can (like for plants) $10.00
Pole sander sandpaper (120 grit) $6.00
7 gallons Water-Based Semi-Gloss Polyurethane ($44.00/gallon can) $308.00
2 quarts wood conditioner $24.00
Lambskin floor applicator $8.00
Shoe covers $3.00
Paint/Stain Brush
Dust masks
Eye goggles, ear plugs

I’m just going to give a quick run down on the overall process. You’ll find your own rhythm once you get going.

1. Drum sander – 60 grit sandpaper – start at one edge of room and pull sander to the center of the room. Do same on other side of room. Meet in the middle. Make sure sanding start and finish marks blend well in the center of the room.

(I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I just have to say: go with the grain of the wood. Our floors had all sorts of deep marks going against the grain – not good. Also, if your floors are in horrible condition, start with a lower grit sandpaper and work your way up.)

2. Orbital edge sander – 60 grit – go in circular motions around edge of room getting as close as you can to the wall. (Warning: You will become a hunchback at this job!)

3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 again for another pass.

4. Now do 2 more passes with both sanders - this time using 100 grit sandpaper.

5. Vacuum and clean floors with a very damp rag.

6. Apply wood conditioner.

7. Sand with pole sander – 120 grit sandpaper.

8. Repeat step 5 again.

9. Ready for polyurethane application #1. Use watering can to make small puddle along a wall. Drag puddle using the lambskin applicator. Keep a wet edge – just like with watercolor painting. Add more polyurethane as needed, but not so much that you have a huge puddle at the very end. Kinda messy to clean up. If you do have extra at the end, soak it up in the lambskin and squeeze into bucket until excess is gone. Will make lots of bubbles in the bucket which isn’t ideal if you are going to use it. (Also, make sure you can end at a doorway or exit or else you’ll be trapped!)

10. Let dry for at least 2 hours.

11. Do coat #2 (just like the first coat). Let dry at least 2 more hours.

12. Sand with pole sander – 120 grit sandpaper.

13. Repeat step 5 yet again. (You’ll be sick of cleaning your floors by now!)

14. Apply coat #3. This should be the last coat if all went well. Wait about 72 hours before you put furniture down.

All done! Yes!

Here are some pics:

Before: (Notice the staining near the center of the picture and near the entryway.)

101_8278 101_8274

In this last photo, it is interesting to see how paint color and lighting can change how the floor appears.
Good luck with your floor refinishing!


  1. looking beautiful!

    love the natural color

  2. Thanks mamaayanna! By the way - any tips for cleaning hardwood floors?

  3. we refinished our pine floors in GA several years ago. we'd bought an old farm house that had linoleum throughout. When we pulled it all up, we were shocked to discover the pine floors in good conidtion...and after refiishing they were stunning...as are yours! But it was a back breaking job. I don't know that I would want to tackle it again...but then again, I probably would to save the money. Your floors are gorgeous!

  4. I agree - back breaking! However, I can't imagine pulling up linoleum and getting all that sticky stuff off. Way to go! So, I understand we are kinda neighbors now. One of these days, when you both are home from the road, it would be great to meet up with you and Malcolm. Keep in touch!

  5. Thank for nice blog.That’s very nice, We are also introducing a Floor sanding company in uk.Here, there are also Wood Floor Repairs.and floor refinishing

  6. Wow! What a process; the results are gorgeous!


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