How to restore hardwood floors

How to restore hardwood floors



Whether you’re looking to spruce up your old house or revamp a vacation property, deciding whether to replace, refinish or simply clean up your dull-looking hardwood floors can be challenging. 

You can choose the quickest way to make your space feel brand-new by assessing the current state of the floors. For example, you can repair a few scratches and dull patches with a floor buffer and some varnish. But if you see deep scratches, your hardwood floor needs a complete transformation, and you should refinish your entire floor.

Typically, a professional will charge you between $3 to $8 per square foot for a full refinishing and $1 to $2 per square foot for a simple recoat. However, if you want to save money, you can start this DIY project easily.

This article discusses how to deep-clean and refinish your hardwood floors by yourself to obtain a professional quality result. 


Deep cleaning vs. refinishing your hardwood floors: Which is best?

Before deciding which revamp strategy to use on your ready-to-be-made-over wood floors, it’s essential to understand each method. 

For example, a deep clean involves grit sandpaper on your hardwood floors and applying a fresh coat of varnish. In contrast, refinishing uses a heavy-duty floor sander and floor buffer to remove the old finish and color before applying a new stain and varnish.

Usually, one of these procedures is enough to bring your hardwood floors back to their shiny glory — and replacement isn’t needed. 

However, how do you know if your floorboards need a deep clean or a new finish? Here are three things to think of:

  • Are you in a rental property or a homeowner? That would determine how much money or effort you want to put into this do-it-yourself project.
  • Does your floor have deep scratches and gaps? If so, it might need a refinish.
  • How severe are the scuffs on your floorboards, and how much dust gets trapped? If it’s severe, opt to refinish them.

If you’re wondering how to go about deep-cleaning and refinishing your hardwood floors, don’t worry. Read on for a step-by-step guide.


How to deep-clean hardwood floors

Deep cleaning is a detailed refresh that attempts to remove dirt buildup while focusing on areas you don’t regularly clean. This process removes dust, dirt and allergens that might be stuck in the crevices of your wooden floorboards and removes blemishes and stains to restore the beauty of your hardwood floors.

Typically, you should deep-clean your home once every few months for:

  • Extra protection. A fresh layer of varnish on the thoroughly cleaned floors helps to protect against wear and tear.
  • A healthier home. Deep-cleaning your floors removes any trapped bacteria, fungi and allergens to improve the cleanliness and health of your home.
  • Maintenance savings. Deep-cleaning regularly keeps your floor looking great for a longer period.

So, let’s discuss how you can clean up your hardwood floors.

What you’ll need to deep-clean hardwood floors

You don’t want to put on your cleaning gloves and get down to cleaning only to realize you don’t have half the things you need to perform the deep clean. So, here’s a list of things to keep handy before deep-cleaning your hardwood floors.

What you’ll need:

  • A dry mop or a broom to sweep the initial layer of dust 
  • A dustpan to sweep the dust into
  • A sturdy wet mop or a spray mop
  • Good-quality microfiber mop pads
  • A hardwood floor cleaner

To get the most out of your deep clean, ensure these tools are handy. Once you have the required equipment, you’re ready to start deep-cleaning. Here are the key steps in deep-cleaning hardwood floors:

Thoroughly wash the hardwood floor

Begin by thoroughly washing your hardwood floors. Here are some tips for doing this most effectively:

  • First, sweep your floors with a soft-bristled broom. Remember, avoid hard-bristled brooms because they will scratch the hardwood.
  • Then use a vacuum to remove dirt from the crevices between the floorboards and any corners that aren’t clean.
  • Next, use a concentrated hardwood floor cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean your floors. Limit the amount of liquid to avoid damaging the floors.
  • Remember to avoid cleaning tools that produce steam or squirt water or bubbles because they can damage your hardwood floors.
  • Remember to mop in the direction of the floorboards and focus extra on problem areas.
  • Change out the mop cloth frequently. Using the same one for your whole home won’t get you the results you desire.

After you have cleaned the floor and allowed it to dry, it’s time to move on to the next step.

However, if you’re unable to remove the embedded dirt properly, you might have to call a professional who would be able to remove it with a scrubbing machine.

Apply floor polish and restorer

Once your floors are squeaky clean, it’s time to apply a floor polish and restorer.

There are various product options for you to choose from, and most of them would have directions of use listed on the label. Generally, the product should be applied to the floor in a zigzag motion and then spread evenly with a clean mop.

Depending on the product, one or two coats should give your floor a good shine.

Once your deep cleaning is complete, here are some maintenance tips that will help you keep your floor in good shape:

  • Wipe down your floors two to three times each week with a soft broom or a vacuum.
  • Deep-clean once a month using a concentrated wood cleaner.
  • Get your floors professionally cleaned once a year.

However, if your floors have deep scratches and need refinishing, this cleanup might not give the floor finish you desire.

Don’t worry! Here’s how you can go about refinishing to make your hardwood floors look new again.


How to refinish hardwood floors

Hardwood floor refinishing can do wonders for your home improvement project and to freshen up your space. 

However, this process is a little more intricate than a simple deep clean. But it’s a task that you can easily DIY to save money while still getting a professional finish. Here’s a detailed guide on how to go about it.

Prepping hardwood floors for refinishing

Before getting started, you need to buy or collect a hardwood flooring cleaner, a mop, a towel, sandpaper, a buffer, a dust mask, a vacuum, a paintbrush and a paint roller.Once you have all of this, it’s time to start!First, remove all furniture and rugs from the room you are refinishing, and cover up vents and electrical boxes with painter's tape and plastic sheeting. This step is essential to prevent dust from flying into the vents or electrical work.

Next, remove any nails or staples sticking out using needle-nose pliers, and nail down any loose boards.

Then check the floor for any holes or cracks, and fill them in using wood filler and a spackle knife, or a trowel filler for bigger holes.

Once the filler dries entirely, wipe the floor with a damp rag, and let it dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Sand the hardwood flooring

Now use an abrasive material to remove the old finish from your hardwood floors.

For this step, you will need to rent a drum sander from a home improvement store. Keep in mind that this machine can be slightly tricky to control, and you should use a respirator mask and eye protection while sanding to avoid any splinters getting in your eyes or nose. In addition, remember to watch a tutorial on how to safely use the drum sander to avoid damaging your floors.

Essentially, you use a drum sander by slowly engaging the sander while moving forward and then disengaging before you stop. You should empty the dust bag regularly to ensure the proper performance of the drummer.

Because of the large size of the drum sander, it might not be possible to use it at the edges of the room. You can use grit sandpaper to sand the edges of the hardwood floor until the floor color is completely uniform.

Once you have completely sanded the floor to a professional-quality finish, vacuum and wipe away the dust from the floor before buffing it to give it a smooth finish.

Stain and seal the sanded hardwood floor

After you have finished sanding and buffing your hardwood floors, you should wipe away all the dust once again and ensure that the floor is spotless and dry. This step is crucial because any sand, hair or small debris will affect the finish of your floors. You can go the extra mile and even wipe down your walls to prevent dust from falling onto the floor while the finishing coat is drying.

Next, a method called “water popping” is used to stain the wood evenly. 

In a container, take one part denatured alcohol to two parts water, and spray the floor using a pump sprayer. Make sure the wood grains are evenly coated with this solution. Then run a mop over the floor to make sure that the solution is evenly distributed. This solution causes the wood grains to rise, allowing the wood stain to penetrate better. After mopping, allow the floor to dry for at least 30 minutes.

Now your floor is ready to be stained, and you can apply an oil-based wood stain in the color of your choice using a sponge applicator.

Before staining and finishing your floors, ensure proper ventilation in your room, and wear a respirator mask to protect you from the harmful vapors emitted from these products.

While staining, dip your sponge or rag in the stain, wring out any excess fluid, and work in an organized manner to evenly distribute the stain across the floor.

Once the entire floor is evenly stained, let it dry for at least 24 hours before you assess whether there is a need for a second coat. After you finish your last layer of stain and have allowed it to dry sufficiently, use a vacuum and tack cloth once again to remove any dust particles or hair from the floor. 

Next, you need to apply a polyurethane sealant. This is a crucial step to add shine to your floor and also protect it from water damage, scuffs and scratches.

Polyurethane is popularly used as a sealant material because this product doesn’t absorb into the wood grains but rather forms a protective coating that helps prevent water damage and scratches. Polyurethane sealer is available as a water- or oil-based product and comes in various finishes like glossy and matte. Remember to always use protective gear and respiratory masks while staining and sealing.

Apply the polyurethane sealer using a sponge roller applicant and a paintbrush for the corners. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions to apply the sealer correctly, and apply the recommended number of coats mentioned on the packaging.

The polyurethane finish should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before you walk on the floor and for at least 72 hours before you complete the final step of moving the rugs and furniture back into the room.

Voila! You have fresh-looking, beautiful hardwood floors that work well with any home design. Make sure you take good care of your floorboards by refinishing them every 8 to 12 years. Typically, hardwood floors can be refinished up to 10 times, so with good maintenance, they will last a long time.


Discover how Cinch home warranties can protect you from surprise repair bills

Home maintenance can be a time-consuming task. With so many home devices needing regular maintenance, it can be fairly intimidating to keep up with.

Hardwood floors add a classic and elegant look to any home. Refinishing them regularly and taking good care of them can go a long way in elevating the space where you live.

To avoid expensive repair costs for your home devices, you can browse through the various Cinch Home Services warranty plan options to select the right one for you. Whether you’re looking for something specific, like a Built-In Systems plan, or larger coverage, like our Complete Home plan, we have something to meet your needs.

Unfortunately, repair of hardwood floors is not covered under Cinch plans. However, opting for this warranty can save you a lot of money by safeguarding your home systems and appliances against damage, rust and corrosion — and that additional savings can go toward floor repairs. In addition, this warranty plan gives you discounts on new appliances, so if you’re in the market for device upgrades, make sure you use this perk. Get a quote for a personalized coverage plan for your home today. 


Want to revamp your hardwood floors to restore their shine? In this article, we provide a detailed guide on how to deep-clean and refinish your hardwood floors.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!