How Much Time It Should Take To Refinish Hardwood Floors

Are you tired of looking at the dings and scratches on your beautiful hardwood floors and wondering if you have time to actually refinish them yourself? Though refinishing hardwood floors seems like a rather straightforward, step-by-step process, it takes time, often requiring several days to complete a single room. The amount of time it takes depends on the size of the project as well as the amount of damage and restoration work you need to do. Since this is a project that adds value to your home (and is time-consuming to fix if not done well the first time), it's often best to give yourself plenty of time to do the work.

The time it takes is based on the amount of work to be done. Refinishing a floor typically means sanding it down, fixing any damage present, and then re-straining the wood. In this process, you're not removing the floorboards and adding new ones, but rather sanding down the top layer of the wood to remove defects and existing stain. The deeper those dings are or the thicker the stain is on the surface, the more work that's involved. The reality is, for most people, the job can take a week or more to complete (and sometimes longer) if you're doing multiple rooms and there's significant damage present. Even a light level of refinishing still requires a good amount of prep work and restoration, not to mention the drying time.

Prep work and sanding your hardwood floors

One of the biggest factors that impact the length of time it takes to refinish hardwoods is their current condition. Even hardwoods are soft enough to allow for dings and gashes to form, such as when someone drags heavy furniture across them. The deeper those groves are, the more sanding is necessary to bring them up level to the surface. That takes time. You may also need to patch these deeper gashes or replace floor boards fully if the wood is decaying.

In some situations, one of the more taxing steps is removing the paint, stain, or other material on the hardwoods. For example, if there's a thick coat of paint on them, it may be necessary to scrape that off. While that's more common in outdoor wood products, some historic and older homes may have had the wood painted at some point.

Sanding hardwood floors can be done in various ways, with the most common option for larger projects using a drum sander and edger. A skilled professional may be able to sand a smaller bedroom with average need within about four to six hours. The same application on multiple layers of finish could double that timeframe. After being rough sanded with a drum sander, most floors need a screen sander applied to help improve evenness and buff out any remaining scratches. That could add a few more hours to the process.

Completing the refinishing of hardwood floors

All of this work has just gone into the sanding and preparation, but there are still several additional steps to take that will tack on more time to the project. Once the floors are sanded and all dust is removed, the next step is to finish them. You'll likely need to apply the stain in a heavy coat at first in a small working area and then remove the excess stain a few minutes later. This requires moving through the room, one workable space at a time, until the entire process is complete.

The first application is usually a wood stain or, in some cases, a sand sealer. After this, you'll need to allow this coat to fully dry before you can move on to apply a wood finish or oil. Some products, like water-based polyurethane or some lacquers, will dry within a matter of hours, but others take much longer, even several days. If the space is humid or you have multiple layers, this can extend the length of time it takes to refinish the hardwood floors.

A skilled DIY-er will need three to five days to complete a 1,000-square-foot space for a project with average wear and tear. Considering that, you may want to take steps to speed up the process, including hiring a professional to do the work for you faster. Once your space looks fantastic, make sure you do what it takes to keep your wood floors looking new.