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DIY: Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring is a popular choice for a home with heavy foot traffic. Aesthetically, they look beautiful too. But no matter which finish you choose, it will be prone to scratches and dents caused by shoes, shifting of furniture and everyday use.

Luckily, wood flooring is easy to maintain and with a bit of effort, you can re-stain them yourself to make them look brand new

We did some of the work for you. Here’s what you’ll need before you tackle this do-it-yourself project:

  • painter’s tape
  • garbage bags
  • masking tape
  • drum sander
  • sanding paper of various grit sizes
  • hand sander
  • safety goggles
  • dust mask
  • dry cloths
  • paint brushes
  • paint tray
  • 1-2 cans of wood finish/stain

Here’s an estimated breakdown of how much the project will cost:

Item Estimated Cost
Painter’s Tape $15 for pack of 4 rolls
Garbage Bags $18 for a box of 32 bags
Masking Tape $10 for 6 rolls
Drum Sander $100 for 48 hours
Sanding Paper $10 for multiple sheets in assorted grits
Hand Sander $45
Safety Goggles $11
Dust Mask $18 for a pack of 20
Dry Cloths $12 for a pack of 32
Paint Brushes $3 each
Paint Tray $2 each
1-2 cans Stain $20-$40 per can depending on the brand
Total estimated project cost $284.00

Prep Your Work Space

Before you even start working on your floors, open some windows in your home for proper ventilation and to help eliminate odours. Remove all furniture and home accents that will obstruct your movements. You may also want to tape garbage bags over light fixtures in surrounding areas to protect them from the dust that you’re about to create. Consider using painter’s tape to cover electrical outlets, light switches and floor vents. You want the room or general area you’re working in to be sealed off from the rest of your house. Lastly, vacuum the floor so it’s spotless before you begin.

Sand the Floors

The hardwood must be stripped to the natural grain before it can be refinished. To do this, you’ll need a drum sander and sanding paper, which costs anywhere from $2 to $3 a sheet. They can be purchased at a local hardware store. Most drums can be rented on a cost-per-day basis at a hardware store. The cost of renting a drum sander at Home Depot is $42 for 4 hours and $60 for 24 hours.

Sand paper comes in different grit sizes. For heavy sanding and stripping, it’s recommended you begin with sheets at 40 or 60-grit and finish the process with 80 to 120-grit sand paper. For this project, you’ll use three different levels of sand grit to achieve a fully sanded floor that’s ready for refinishing.

  • Begin sanding in the center of the floor and move from one end of the room to the other. The sander will remove the material fairly quickly, so be sure to spend only a few seconds on each spot and move on.
  • The sander will not be able to reach tight corners. Take an edged sander to buff out smaller areas that got missed the first time around using the same grit sandpaper.
  • Wear goggles and a dust mask to protect your eyes from airborne debris and dust.
  • When you’re done with the floor, vacuum the entire area and repeat the process using 80 or 100-grit sand paper.
  • Repeat the entire process a third time with 120-grit sand paper.
  • After sanding the floor three times, vacuum the floor one last time to ensure all dirt is gone and clean the floor with a dry cloth.
  • Finally, vacuum one last time and clean down the floor with a dry cloth.

This video shows you how to use a drum sander:

Stain Your Stripped Floors

Staining is the easy part of this lengthy DIY. Head to your nearest hardware store and have fun picking out what colour stain you want for your new hardwood. There are many different types on the market, including oil and water-based. Before you commit to the colour, test it on a small area of the floor before applying it to the entire area.

  • Start this project early in the morning and keep all of your windows open to let the smell of the stain escape. Close bedroom doors and turn off your central heating to prevent the smell from lingering.
  • As you stain, be sure to wear safety goggles and disposable gloves to protect your hands.
  • Take a paint brush and in small strokes, move along the floor applying the first coat. Consider applying a second coat of stain to deepen the colour.
  • Pay attention to the instructions on the outer portion of the can. Each stain will outline different directions, including the amount of time the stain needs to dry. A good rule of thumb is 4 to 6 hours.
  • When the stain is dry to the touch, take a dry cloth and wipe the floor.

Give yourself a tap on the shoulder for your hard work! This do-it-yourself project is not an easy one, but with patience and the right tools, anyone can do it.

Does the thought of this DIY make you want to run to an expert? That’s no problem. We have a whole list of professionals who can discuss your flooring improvement project.

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