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A Guide on Sanding and Polishing Hardwood Floor

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

There’s nothing more satisfying than perfectly polished floors but if your wooden floor has seen better days then it might be a good time to sand and polish it yourself. Get a professional looking finish and give your living space an update by checking out our simple guide on DIY hardwood sanding and polishing:

You will need:

Dust mask
Protective eyewear
Terrycloth mop
Hardwood floor cleaner
Plastic sheeting
Paint roller and stick
Sandpaper (20-60 grit, 120 grit, and 220 grit)
Drum or Orbital sander and a detail hand sander
Interior stain

Step 1: Prep the Floor

Move all furniture out of the room and start taping up the outlets, vents, windows, etc. Remove the moldings but not the baseboards. If the wooden floor is painted, have it tested for lead paint before sanding. Lead paint cannot be sanded over. If the paint is lead paint, you need to replace the floor instead of simply sanding and polishing it. Vacuum the floor and remove any debris, dust, dirt, etc.

Step 2: Prep the Sander

Get a sander (rent one at your local hardware store) and replace the sandpaper for a 20 to 60 grit. Ideally, the floor must be ¾ inches thick to sand. If it’s thinner, do not refinish it or you’ll risk damaging the floor.

Step 3: Start Sanding

Wear all your protective gears and turn the sander on. The sander can be loud so wear the earplugs too. You want to start sanding in the middle of the room. Always keep the sander moving in a smooth, even pace for an even finish. Sand with the grain from one end of the room to the other. Overlap the passes by an inch or two.

For corners that the sander cannot reach, you need to manually sand these areas. You can also rent a corner sander to get the job done faster.

Step 4: Inspect the Finish and Repeat

Once you sanded the entire floor the first time, vacuum the area and check your work. If it has uneven spots, repeat the sanding process but use a 60-grit sandpaper. If you’re satisfied with the result, use a 120-grit sandpaper for a final pass. After the final finish, vacuum the floor area again followed by mopping with a dry cloth.

Step 5: Seal the Floor

To apply the stain, you have to use a wood conditioner first. This guarantees smooth, even stain application. Using a paint roller, apply the stain in an even stroke. If you want to achieve a darker stain, apply a second coat. After applying the stain, apply the floor sealer. You will need to turn the heater to 70 degrees to cure the sealer. Apply the polyurethane the same way you applied the stain and let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Lightly sand the entire floor using a 220-grit sandpaper and vacuum the floor. Dry mop the floor and apply the second coat of polyurethane. Let the polyurethane dry for another 24 hours. At this point, the floor should feature even shininess.

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