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Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Flooring > Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors
Guide to Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful, durable, and add value to your property, but proper maintenance is a must if you hope to get the most from this asset. Along with appropriate cleaning, hardwood flooring must also be refinished from time to time in order for it to maintain its good looks. Refinishing well-kept flooring protects the wood and keeps it attractive; refinishing wood floors that have been neglected for years will not only improve their appearance, but will be an important factor in preserving the wood and extending its lifespan.


According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, all wood flooring can last for 100+ years with proper maintenance. Homeowners must be aware, though, that different kinds of hardwood floors require different kinds of upkeep.

    According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, all wood flooring can last for 100+ years with proper maintenance.
  1. 1.Refinishing Wax-Sealed Floors

    While newer floors are typically sealed with urethane, classic hardwood flooring is protected by a layer of wax. The look and feel of these floors is highly prized among homeowners, but because a wax is not as tough as modern seals, wax-sealed floors must be refinished more frequently. Stripping away to top layer of any hardwood flooring is a time-consuming and labor intensive task; unless you have professional tools and a lot of patience, leave this job to the pros.

  2. 2.Refinishing Hardwood Floors Sealed with Urethane

    Though urethane seals come in a number of different varieties; water-based, oil-based, surface, penetrating, acid-cured, and others are all common, and each has its pros and cons. Urethane finishes are generally very tough, and a professionally installed hardwood floor sealed with urethane should not require refinishing for decades at a time. It should be noted, however, that water-based urethane is typically regarded as less durable than oil-based urethane, often losing its luster more rapidly, thus requiring more maintenance and more frequent refinishing.

  3. 3.Refinishing Engineered Wood Flooring

    Engineered wood flooring has fewer issues with contraction and expansion than true hardwood, and its ease of installation has made it a very popular choice among homeowners. Unlike true hardwood, however, engineered flooring is a composite material. Hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times before it loses its integrity; engineered flooring, on the other hand, only has a layer of real wood on its surface. The thickness of this layer plays an important role in how many times engineered wood can be refinished (higher quality engineered flooring has the thickest top layer and can, therefore, be sanded and refinished several times).

  4. 4.How Often Should Hardwood Floors Be Refinished

    The frequency of refinishing is next to impossible to average out for several reasons. First, not just the type of finish, but its manufacturer and its installer, as well, will all play a role in how long a finish will last. Additionally, the amount of foot traffic a given floor sees throughout the year will have an enormous effect on its finish and how long it will last. If you keep up with your regular cleaning (and for wax-sealed floors, the occasional buffing), the time right time for sanding and refinishing will be easy to identify due to the dull appearance of the wood itself. Truly, some wood floors can go for several decades without ever needing to be refinished; others may require this sort of attention much more frequently.

  5. 5.Finding a Good Refinishing Company

    Even some serious do-it-yourselfers choose to leave the tedious and time-consuming task of wood floor refinishing to the professionals--and for good reason. To make sure that your refinishing job is performed by a competent company, always meet with at least 3 different contractors to discuss your project. Ask to see their portfolio and references, and get quotes from each. Doing this might take a little extra time, but the many benefits of hiring the right company for the job far outweigh the additional effort you'll use to find it. To learn about the costs associated with getting your floors finished, see our guide on the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors.

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