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How to Refinish Sanding Hardwood Floors DIY

Sanding hardwood floors
Written by Cedric Prigent
Last Update: January 2, 2023

Sanding hardwood floors is a multi-step process. Although none of the steps are rocket science, you should follow them carefully for getting a nicely finished hardwood floor. Let’s explore the step by step process for sanding hardwood floors.

Step by Step Process for How to Refinish Hardwood Floors DIY

Step 1 : Choosing Sandpaper Grit Sequence

For refinishing a hardwood floor, you will have to sand over that floor multiple times. You need to sand the floor at least four times using a finer level of sandpaper each time for getting a smoothly nice hardwood floor. So, the first step to take is to determine the sequence of the grit of the sandpaper.

Unfortunately, there is no fixed sequence of grits because every floor is different. You have to choose the sequence according to the condition of your floor. There are 7 different sanding grits for sanding floors, but you will not need all of them for your floor.

7 Different Sanding Grits for Sanding Wood Floors

  • 12-grit : initial grit for rough woodwork and floors with multiple layers of adhesive color paints
  • 16-grit : initial grit for floors with single layers of paint or heavy shellac finishes
  • 24-grit : initial grit for floors that have not been sanded for 30 years after the first finishing
  • 36-grit : initial grit for floors that have a very minimal finish or have newly been installed.
  • 60-grit : second grit to use after the initial sanding. It takes out the scratches that the initial grit sandpaper makes.
  • 80-grit : third grit to use to take out scratches that 60-grit sandpaper makes. This is the final grit for most American hardwood floors.
  • 100-grit : the last grit to take out all the microscopic scratches

Now, the choice of your initial grit should be determined by the condition of your floor. However, you should start with the 36-grit if you’re confused about the condition of your floor. If it does not work, go for the coarser grits gradually.

Step 2 : Using the Drum Sander with the Initial Grit Sandpaper

Drum sanders are the most effective sanding tools for sanding wood floors. Use the drum sander to sand all the part it can reach on your floor with the initial sandpaper grit you determined to use for sanding hardwood floors. 

Step 2 : Using the Drum Sander with the Initial Grit Sandpaper

Step 3 : Using the Edger with the Initial Grit Sandpaper

Use the edger to sand all the edges that the drum couldn’t reach using the same grit you used with the drum sander.

Step 3 : Using the Edger with the Initial Grit Sandpaper

Step 4 : Vacuuming the Pieces of Particles

After sanding with different grits, vacuum the floor every time you change the grits. Otherwise, the pieces of sanding grit paper will make scratches again and again. These coarse particles can ruin your sanding with the finer grits of sanding discs.

Step 5 : Using the Drum Sander with the Second Grit Sandpaper

After vacuuming, use the drum sander again with the finer grit according to the sequence of grits you determined in the first step.

Step 6 : Using the Edger with the Second Grit Sandpaper

Use the edger again to sand all the edges that the drum couldn’t reach using the same grit you used with the drum sander for sanding hardwood floors.

Step 7 : Repeating Step 4 to 6 with the Finer Grits

Don’t forget the step 4. Every time you change grits, you must vacuum. Then repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have reached the 80-grit sandpaper.

Step 8 : Using 100-Grit Sandpaper If Needed

If you still feel that there are some scratches left on the floor, sand them with the 100-grit sandpaper to get a smoother floor.

Step 9: Sanding the Corners

There will be some places that are still not sanded because the edger is round and you cannot reach the corners with it. You can use carbide scrapers for sanding the corners but they are expensive. Carbon steel scrapers will save you some money and they work well if you sharpen them after using. You can also use sanding sticks to sand the corners of your floor.

Step 10 : Checking the Surface

Even if you work for hours, don’t forget to check for scratches or edges. Even though you used the 100-grit, you may miss some tiny part of your floor. So, check it again.

Step 11 : Cleaning the Surface

Use a clean, lint-free textile to remove all the dust from the floor. You can also use a dry microfiber cloth to clean the surface.

Sanding hardwood floors is not an easy task. However, it won’t seem much difficult if you follow the above-mentioned steps carefully. Sanding wood takes a lot of concentration. So, being attentive is also necessary to be able to follow the steps for sanding hardwood floors.

About the author

Cedric Prigent

A Home Renovation Consultant

Hi, this is proud Cédric! Not everyone can be proud of what they do. But I do because I beautify my home and people’s homes. It’s an unforgettable pleasure when people tell before me “Cédric, your home looks gorgeous!” or “Man, you did an excellent job!” I offer suggestions and innovative ideas to people who want to revamp their interior or exterior or both. At times, people request me to tell them which tool to use for the floors, walls, and other areas. I never hesitate to help them with my knowledge and expertise. Also, I feel really happy when someone like you asks me a question regarding home improvement. I try utmost to satisfy, and you’ll see a proof if you ever check my posts.

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