Top 5 DIY Tips For Sanding Hardwood Floors

Top 5 DIY Tips For Sanding Hardwood Floors

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Hardwood floors sanding and refinishing is not a trivial task, but refinished floor can make a room so beautiful. Hiring a professional to sand, stain, seal, and apply multiple finish coats of an oil-based poly will usually cost around $4 for each square foot. Doing a house of 2,000 sq-ft will cost about $8,000 for both labor and materials. Doing it yourself can save a minimum of $4,000.

Think you can do it? See some helpful tips on how to refinish hardwood floors below:

How to Sand or Refinish Hardwood Floors

If you decided that a floor screening is not enough, consider these steps to refinish your engineered wood floors.

  • Make a plan: Sanding a floor requires removing all items from the room. Anything left behind will get covered in sawdust. If there’s something that you can’t get out, cover it carefully with plastic sheets and tape it firmly. Also, keep in mind that you won’t be able to enter the room for around three to four days.
  • Gather tools and supplies: Refinishing requires several tools you likely don’t have. Go to your local hardware store to rent the needed equipment:
  • Drum or orbital sander (orbital sander is convenient to control for a beginner)
  • Power sander
  • A buffer (for sanding between coats)
  • An edger for getting closer to the walls difficult for the drum to reach

When renting the equipment, request a demonstration and ensure you know exactly how to handle the machine before you take it to the site. The following will also be needed:

  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Pencil
  • Drum or Orbital Sander
  • Molding Bar or Putty Knife
  • Hammer
  • Masking Tape
  • Sand Paper (30 to 40, Rough Grit)
  • Sand Paper (50 to 60, Medium Grit)
  • Sand Paper (80 plus, Fine Grit)
  • Floor Stain
  • Polyurethane Sealer
  • Wood Filler
  • Mineral Spirits (optional)
  • Get the room ready for sanding: About 90% of the success will depend on preparation, so take it slow and carefully from the start.

Follow these steps to get your home ready:

  • Begin by clearing the room of decorations, furniture, and curtains
  • Remove shoe molding and doors. Getting rid of molding may be skipped, but it will help prevent damage. If you decide to remove it, number the pieces as well as the coordinating walls with tape to know where to return each piece
  • Check the floor for possible unflushed nails with the floor. Use the nail set (small metal tool for driving nails under the hardwood surface); to make sure no nail heads are sticking up. Unflushed nails will tear the sandpaper and delay your progress.
  • Repair current damage to the floors, like cracks, holes, or scratches, using wood putty and a putty knife.
  • Use hardwood floor cleaner to clean floors
  • Cover vents, windows, doors, and surfaces using plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. This will prevent dust from traveling across your house.  
  • Sand and refinish your wooden floors: Get your sander ready by fixing the sandpaper’s coarsest grit. Place your sander to align with the grain of the wood. If your floor is a tarp, work in diagonal with the grain, but do not go totally against the wood grain. Immediately you are ready, take to the following steps to sand your hardwood floors:

How to Sand Hardwood Floors

  • Start moving the machine to the front as you turn it on. The floor will be damaged if you remain in one place for a long.
  • Move at an even but steady pace and allow the machine to do its work as you follow the grain all over the room. Avoid pushing the sander.
  • When you reach the other side of the room, move over and pull back gently overlapping the next pass just a few inches with the last one, around the width of one floorboard. There is no need to turn the machine around because it can move in both directions without changing its effect.
  • Often check the sandpaper to ensure it is not worn out. Change it once it wears out, using similar grit of sandpaper until the whole room has been covered. In addition, if there is a dust collection bag in the sander, always empty it to make sure it doesn’t increase the machine’s weight.
  • Cover the entire room, getting inside a few inches of the corners and walls. After you are done with a trip around the entire room, turn the machine off before you stop moving around.
  • Apply similar grit of sandpaper to the hand sander. Finish the edges of the room with it. Go in a semicircular movement, overlapping the finished area to make sure it blends in.
  • Clean the floor with the vacuum before you start the second sanding round
  • Repeat each step two times or more, changing the sandpaper’s grit each time. Use 50 – 60 grit sandpaper for the second round and 80 – 100 grit sandpaper for the third round.


After these steps the floor should look smooth like untreated wood. If you feel like the floor is rough or there are visible lines from the sander, use the sanding screen to buff it. This should get rid of any visible fine scratches caused by the sander.

After the entire floor feels smooth, proceed to clean the room again. This time make use of the vacuum and a damp mop to make sure you remove every dust. Get a clean cotton rag to wipe the floor with mineral spirits to get rid of any trace of chemicals from the wood. Then, let it dry.

Tip: Refinishing and sanding generates lots of dust and fumes. Buy dust masks and earplugs and, during application of sealers and oil-based polyurethane, put on NIOSH-approved organic vapor respirators, vinyl or neoprene globes, as well as eye protection that includes splash guards.  

  • Stain your floors: After the floor is sanded, cleaned, and completely dried, you are set to finish the floor. This is where you stain the floor if you like, but the right staining of the hardwood floor is an art on its own, so it is likely left for another article.
  • Seal your floors: Another renowned option is to make use of only polyurethane with no stains to seal hardwood floors while keeping their natural beauty and color. If you are going this route, you have two options: water-based and oil-based polyurethane. Both are the same, no superiority, it all depends on preference.


One of the major differences between the two is the color of the finish because oil-based polyurethane will appear in a yellow or amber color based on the brand used, while water-based polyurethane will show hazy and dry clear. The yellow floor finish is preferred by some and they see water-based products as a cold and unattractive finish, so it depends on preference.

Remember that the yellow or amber shade will later deepen, so the shade you currently see is not the same as what you will see in 5 years.

FAQ about Sanding Hardwood Floors

Can I sand and refinish my hardwood floors as a DIY job?

If the scratches don’t affect the wood, you can use a buffer to scuff-sand your floors and apply a new coat or two of finish. The process is simple and cheaper than sanding down to the main wood and doesn’t take much time. In just a few hours, you will have new-looking floors.

Is it hard to refinish hardwood floors?

Refinishing your hardwood floors may seem a hard task, but with the appropriate equipment, knowledge, and time you can save more money by handling this project all by yourself.

How will a professional charge?

A professional contractor will normally charge between $3 and $4 for each square foot for preparation, sanding, as well as other process required.

How much will it cost to refinish the floors myself?

If you plan for a DIY hardwood refinishing project, this will take up to 4 days and cost roughly $700.


Refinishing a hardwood floor can take longer and effort, but these steps are direct for most households. With most of your weekend, the right preparation, and little effort, you can change the look of a room and save a lot of money.

If you would like to refinish or recoat the hardwood floors in your household, but the thought of handling it on your own is overwhelming, contact us and allow the Dallas Floors to handle it for you. Our expert team will diligently handle it to make sure the finished floor shines like new.   

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