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How to refinish wood flooring

Over the years, life in a busy home can take its toll on wood flooring, especially in high-traffic areas. A routine of regular maintenance should keep your wood flooring looking beautiful and maximise its life; however, in some cases, your wood flooring might need to be fully refinished to restore it to its former glory.

Dark Oak Hallway

You might have a timber floor that hasn’t been treated as it should by a previous owner, or perhaps you’ve discovered some neglected wood flooring hiding under an old carpet. Whatever the situation, you might be wondering how to give your wood flooring a new lease of life.

Before you do a full sand and refinish

Before you jump straight to sanding and refinishing your whole floor, it’s worth exploring other ways to breathe life back into your wood flooring. This is especially important with textured boards; you will want to avoid sanding back brushed or rough sawn planks, or you risk losing the eye-catching nature of their tactile surface.

Vintage Oak Flooring Russet

Revitalise your wood flooring without sanding

Is your wood flooring looking a bit tired, changing colour, or losing its lustre? If the answer is yes, chances are it needs some attention.

Treat your oiled wood flooring with our Eco Wax Care to regenerate the protective oil in the wood and keep it looking fresh. Use our Eco Refresher to regenerate and revive worn lacquered surfaces and improve your wood flooring’s wear protection.

Intensive cleaning

If your wood flooring has embedded grime from day-to-day foot traffic, it may start to draw your eye, but it often looks worse than it is. A thorough clean could quickly improve the appearance of your floor.

We recommend a wood flooring cleaner such as our Eco Magic Cleaner for intensive cleaning in trouble spots. After a clean, you might find that the dirt and scuffs are much less of a problem than they first appeared.

Magic Cleaner For Wood Flooring

Oiled wood flooring: Try a buff and re-coat

For minor wear and shallow scratches, you can try roughing up the surface of the floor using a floor buffer with a fine grit (e.g. 120 grit) sanding screen. This won’t take the finish back to bare wood but will cut back just the damaged top layer of oil and create a good surface for re-oiling. Once you’ve done this, you can simply apply a fresh coat of hardwax oil and your wood flooring should look beautiful once more.

The great thing about hardwax oil is that you can touch up any worn areas and blend the finish in with the rest of the floor. These spot-repairs aren’t as easy with lacquered wood flooring.

Bear in mind that clear oil will not hide water damage marks, so these will need to be fully sanded out before re-applying the finish.

Refinishing options

So, where do you start? And what exactly is involved when it comes to refinishing wood flooring?

Sanding your wood flooring

A full sand and refinish might be the only way to go if there are stubborn marks from water damage, or if there are deep scratches and dents.

If you have high-end engineered wood flooring with a high-quality hardwood top layer, carefully sanding back your planks shouldn’t cause any problems. That said, there’s a limit to how many times you can sand your wood flooring, so it’s best to avoid doing so if possible. We would advise trying all other options to revitalise your wood flooring before deciding to sand.

If sanding oiled or stained floor depending on the severity of the damage you would usually take away about 0.5mm. If you’re sanding a lacquered floor, this may be closer to 1mm.

Sanding back wood flooring for a full refinish is best left to the professionals if you want to ensure the best possible finish. If you want to save yourself the hassle, get in touch with us for a refinishing quote. We’d be happy to refinish your wood flooring for you.

Coarse sanding

The most effective way to achieve an evenly sanded floor is to use a professional quality belt sander, which will efficiently extract dust and create the best possible finish. A machine like this will make light work of sanding, so be careful not to over-sand your floor. Start with a coarse sandpaper (e.g. 40 grit) to remove severe scratches, dents or water marks.

The idea is to sand away the finish and a small amount of the discoloured or damaged top layer, taking your planks back to a fresh unfinished wood surface.

Use an edge sander along the edges of the room and a hand-held detail sander for corners and any areas that can’t be reached with the edge sander.

Fine sanding

Repeat the sanding process with a finer sandpaper (e.g. 80 grit) to get a smoother surface.

Finally, use a floor buffer or orbital sander with a fine grit sandpaper screen (e.g. 120 grit) to remove any minor indentations or raised fibres to get the floor surface smooth and ready for re-finishing.

a floor fitter sanding floors

Cleaning up

Once you’ve finished the sanding process, use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the dust particles from the floor’s surface. You’ll want your floor perfectly clean before you refinish it.

Refinishing wood flooring

We would advise refinishing your wood flooring as soon as possible because the bare wood is vulnerable to damage at this stage. When applying any finishes to your wood flooring, it’s important to follow the finish manufacturer’s application instructions.

Chaunceys oak engineered flooring in brushed Burnt Umber finish at Redland Refurb project hallway

Wood stains and tinted oils

If required, apply any stains or tinted oil finishes onto the bare wood following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Allow them to dry completely before you apply the protective top coats.

Hardwax Oil top coats

Apply your hardwax oil top coats evenly with a foam roller or short pile gloss roller. Although you can walk on the finish once it’s touch dry, it will take 3-7 days to fully cure and harden, so go easy on it for a week or so. Take extra care when moving heavy furniture as the oil cures.

Lacquers

Apply lacquer with a paintbrush along the edges and feather it in to avoid getting any hard lines. Then, use a roller to apply the lacquer evenly in the direction of the boards, working your way towards the entrance of the room. Apply an even coat across the whole floor and allow to dry.

Preventing wear and tear: your maintenance routine

It’s vital to keep an eye out for any signs of wear to prevent need for full sand; prevention is always better than a cure.

Set in place a regular maintenance routine to keep your wood flooring looking at its best and increase its durability.

Regular cleaning

Take good care of your wood flooring and you should avoid the need to sand and refinish. Cleaning your wood flooring on a regular basis is the best way to prevent excessive wear and tear. Dry sweep your wood flooring as often as you can; you can use a soft broom or a vacuum with a soft attachment.

We recommend using tried and tested maintenance products such as our Eco Wash Care for regular cleaning with a damp mop. Eco Wash Care is a PH neutral floor cleaning system designed for everyday cleaning of oiled and lacquered wooden floors. Frequently cleaning your wood flooring is key part of wood flooring maintenance.