What is Floor Refinishing? A Complete Guide

Nov 14, 2023

Floor refinishing is the process of restoring and renewing the appearance of a floor. Over time, floors can become dull, scratched, or damaged due to heavy foot traffic, spills, and other wear and tear. Floor refinishing involves sanding, polishing, and coating the floor to bring back its original shine and protect it from future damage.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of floor refinishing, including what it is, why it is important, and the different methods and techniques used.

Why is Floor Refinishing Important?

There are several great reasons to refinish hardwood floors instead of replacing them:

Restore Beauty and Luster

Over time, foot traffic wears away the protective finish on wood floors, making them appear dull and scratched. Refinishing removes the top layer of wood and applies new stain and/or finish to reveal the hidden beauty underneath. This brings back the natural glow and color of the wood.

Remove Damage and Imperfections

Everyday wear and tear, pet claws, furniture scratches, and more can damage wood floors. Refinishing remove scuffs, stains, discoloration and other flaws, leaving floors looking brand new.

Avoid Costly Replacement

Installing new hardwood floors costs £30-£50 per square meter on average. Refinishing existing wood costs a fraction as much, around  £15 to £35 depending on specific conditions. It’s the affordable way to get floors looking their best again.

Increase Home Value

Beautiful refinished hardwood can increase a home’s value significantly. Scratched, worn floors can actually decrease value. Refinishing restores appeal for potential home buyers.

If your floors are in generally good shape but suffer from surface-level damage and worn finish, refinishing is likely the best way to renew their appearance and add value to your home.

When is it Time to Refinish Floors?

So how do you know when your floors are ready for refinishing? Here are some signs it may be time:

  • Dull, worn appearance: The finish has visibly dulled and the wood lacks luster.
  • Discoloration or stains: Years of spills, pets accidents and more have discolored the wood.
  • Deep scratches: Furniture has left behind scratched, gouged areas.
  • Change in stain color: You want to update the stain to a more modern, preferred color tone.
  • Preparing home for sale: Refinishing can help you get top dollar from buyers.
  • Renting out property: Renewing floors makes a property more appealing to renters.

Addressing these issues through refinishing can restore the timeless beauty of your hardwood floors.

Methods and Techniques for Floor Refinishing

When undertaken by a professional, floor refinishing uses specialized techniques and equipment to deliver optimal results. Here are some of the methods employed:

Multi-Step SandingUsing drum sanders, the old finish is gradually removed using coarse grit sandpaper first, then progressively finer grits for a smooth surface. Edges are sanded by hand.
ScreeningIn between sanding stages, a rotary buffing machine with a mesh screen attachment is used to ensure an even finish. This “de-glosses” the wood for stain absorption.
Stain ApplicationIf staining, oil-based stains are wiped on using a rag, brush or lambswool applicator. Excess is immediately wiped away to avoid an uneven appearance. Water-based options are also available.
Finish CoatingPolyurethane finishes are applied using a roller, brush or specialized applicator. Slow-drying water-based poly is the most common. Flow coating allows self-leveling.
AbrasivesThe sander types, screens and sandpaper grits are selected based on floor type and condition. For example, thicker floors require more aggressive abrasives.
ContainmentDust extraction systems and air scrubbers are used to contain dust. Plastic sheeting protects walls and furnishings.
RepairsSpecialty tools are used to repair damaged boards, hammer down protruding nails, fill cracks and replace vent register covers.

The Floor Refinishing Process Step-By-Step

Refinishing wood floors is a multi-step process that requires expertise and the right tools. Here is an overview of what’s involved:

Inspection and Prep Work

The first step is examining the floors for areas of damage or decay. Any boards that are cupped, buckled or rotted will need replacement. Nails that have popped up should be hammered back down. Shoe molding and baseboards are removed to allow the sander access to edges.

Deep Cleaning

The floor is deep cleaned using a special cleaner or sander with a coarse screen pad. This removes grime buildup and opens the pores of the wood.


Using drum sanders and edge sanders, the refinishing pro sands off the top layer of worn wood gradually with coarse to fine sandpaper. Most floors need 2-3 passes with increasingly finer grit sandpaper. This creates a smooth, even surface for stain and finish to adhere to.

Stain Application (optional)

If desired, a wood stain can enhance or alter the color of the floor. Oil-based stains work best for rich color that penetrates deeply. Make sure to wipe away excess for an even appearance.

Sealing and Finish Coats

After staining (if selected), sealers and 2-3 coats of polyurethane are applied. Water-based finishes are the most common choice today for their durability and quick drying time. Allow proper drying time between coats.

Curing Time

It takes about two weeks for the new finish to fully cure and harden to protect the floors. No heavy walking or furniture replacement during this time.

Refinishing hardwood floors takes skill, the proper tools, and meticulous care at each step for a smooth, lustrous outcome.

DIY Floor Refinishing vs Hiring a Professional

You may be tempted to refinish your own wood floors to save on costs. However, there are advantages to hiring professional refinishers.

Pros of DIY Refinishing:

  • Lower cost – rent equipment instead of labor fees
  • Learn a new skill
  • Customize to your preferences

Cons of DIY Refinishing:

  • Inexperience can lead to mistakes
  • Floor damage if improper techniques used
  • Extremely labor intensive
  • Buying or renting tools can be expensive

Benefits of Professional Refinishing:

  • Expert techniques for quality results
  • Right tools and equipment for the job
  • Efficient service and minimal disruption
  • Warranties against defects

When to Call the Pros:

  • Floors wider than 4 inches
  • Highly patterned floors
  • Severely damaged floors
  • If you want stain color change
  • Lack of time for long DIY process

Look for licensed refinishing companies who have demonstrated expertise working on floors similar to yours. Check reviews and ask for references to view past work. Get an estimate of the full costs involved.

As a professional floor refinishing company based in the UK, we’ve transformed thousands of worn hardwood floors over the past decade. Get an estimate on renewing your floors today!

Caring for Refinished Floors

You’ve put time, effort and money into refinishing your floors. Follow these tips to keep them looking their best for years to come:

Allow proper curing time – Avoid heavy foot traffic and replacing furniture for 10-14 days after refinishing. This gives the finish time to fully cure.

Use rugs and mats – Place entry mats inside and out to capture dirt, sand, grit and moisture from shoes. Area rugs protect high traffic zones.

Sweep and mop carefully – Regular sweeping removes abrasive particles. When mopping, use only specially formulated hardwood floor cleaner.

Avoid spills and excess moisture – Blot up spills immediately to prevent discoloration or damage. Don’t over-wet floors. Allow extra drying time if needed.

Rearrange furniture seasonally – Shift furniture around occasionally to allow even exposure to sunlight and wear. This prevents uneven patinas.

Apply floor protectant – Using a wood floor protectant every few months adds an extra layer of protection on top of the finish.

With proper care and maintenance, your renewed hardwood floors should maintain their freshly refinished look for many years before needing another refinishing treatment.


Refinishing can restore and protect wood floors at a cost far below replacement. If your floors are looking worn and tired, I hope I’ve helped demonstrate that refinishing is likely the best solution.

As you consider taking on this project, feel free to request an estimate from us. We work on residential and commercial properties across the UK. I’m happy to inspect your floors, discuss process, timelines and pricing to give you a precise quote for renewing your hardwood.

With decades of experience, specialized tools and a refined process, we deliver outstanding refinishing services that breathe new life into your floors. Transform dull, damaged hardwood into a beautiful focal point of your home with professional floor refinishing.

Floor Refinishing FAQs

How long does the floor refinishing process take?

The duration depends on various factors, including the size of the area and the extent of the work. On average, the process takes about 3 to 5 days.

Can I stay in my home during the refinishing process?

While it’s possible to stay in your home, it’s advisable to plan alternative accommodation during the sanding and finishing stages due to noise and fumes. Our team can discuss suitable arrangements to ensure minimal disruption to your routine.

How often should hardwood floors be refinished?

The frequency of refinishing depends on factors such as foot traffic and wear. Generally, hardwood floors benefit from refinishing every 7 to 10 years. Our team assesses the condition of your floors and recommends a tailored refinishing schedule to maintain their optimal appearance.

Are there eco-friendly options for floor refinishing?

Absolutely. At FloorSanding.co.uk, we prioritize sustainability. We offer eco-friendly finishes and stains that minimize environmental impact. Explore our range of environmentally conscious options to contribute to a greener and healthier living space.