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Hardwood floors in older homes can be hidden treasures. You may not realize it, but under the dark finish, scuffs and scratches is probably a beautiful hardwood floor just waiting to shine through. Sanding off the old finish gives you a chance to get down to the bare wood and erase many of the scratches and dents. Then you can choose a stain that is more to your liking, or just put a clearcoat on the floor for a pleasant, warm appearance.

With the right equipment, restoring the hardwood floor in a room can be done in a weekend. Plan ahead and have some helpers lined up to move out the furniture in the room. The finished floor will need to cure for a week, so find an out of the way place for the furniture. You will also need to rent sanding equipment, so make sure it is available on the days you plan to tackle this project.



Skill Level & Time to Complete

  • Beginner - 1 to 2 days 
  • Intermediate - 1 to 1-1/2 days
  • Advanced - about 1 day
  - Always wear eye protection when working with power tools and striking tools.
  - This is a very dusty project. Make sure you wear a dust mask while operating the sander.
  - Close all doors leading to the room while sanding. If you don’t have a door, hang a sheet of plastic over the door opening.
  - Don’t try to remove all scratches and dents. It may require you to sand deeper than you need to and besides, they really do add to the character and charm of the floor.


Materials List
   Sand paper for sander
   Finishing nails
   Masking tape
   Clearcoat finish
Tools List
   Carpenters Square
   Pry bar
   Nail set
   Claw Hammer
   Palm sander
   Edge sander
   Drum sander


1. Remove all furniture from the room to prepare for the project. There should be nothing left on the floor of the room. Remove pictures and other items hanging on the walls to prevent them from getting dusty. Using small sheets of plastic and masking tape cover all air vents in the room to prevent dust from spreading through the house in your HVAC system. Remove any hardware on the floor, such as doorstops. Search the floor for nail heads that are sticking up and sink them with a hammer and nail set.
2. If you have shoe molding or quarter round along the floor and baseboards in the room, you should remove it to get the best sanding results and to avoid damaging this molding with the sander. Use a pry bar and a hammer to carefully pull up the strips of wood. Be careful not to damage it so that you can reinstall it later. Pull all the nails out and store the material in a safe place.
3. Start with a coarse piece of sandpaper loaded on the drum sander. A drum sander must be used in the direction of the wood grain. Begin in a corner along one wall of the room. Turn on the sander with the drum lifted off the floor surface. Gently touch the spinning drum to the floor and gradually walk backwards at an even pace, pulling along the sander. Never stop moving with the sander still in contact with the floor. It will sand through to your basement!
4. Work you way across the room. Make as many passes in one area as you need to get down to the bare wood. Then turn around and start in the opposite corner, sanding the other half of the room. Once you are down to bare wood, use the medium grit sandpaper and repeat. Then use the finest grit for your finish.
5. Once the room is sanded, use an edger to get even closer to the walls and into the corners. An edger works well in smaller areas such as narrow hallways, closets and steps.


6. Any areas that can’t be reached with the edger can be sanded with a small handheld oscillating sander or a piece of sandpaper. Finally vacuum up the room to prepare it for staining and clearcoat.
7. If desired, stain the floor to match an adjacent room or to a chosen color. Allow the stain to dry before applying the clearcoat finish.
8. Applying the clearcoat finish is a lot like mopping. You should use a lamb’s wool applicator with a handle and a paint tray. Following the direction of the grain, apply a thin coat of the finish. Apply 2 or 3 coats of clearcoat, allowing each coat to dry for several hours in between. The final coat should dry for a week before any heavy traffic or before you move the furniture back in the room.
9. The final touch is to reinstall the base molding along the floor.

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