How To Prep A Floor For Refinishing

Estimated read time 3 min read

Floor refinishing doesn’t need to be intimidating. Sure, you’re dealing with hardwood flooring that can get expensive to fix if you happen to damage it in your efforts to do the work yourself. But as long as you take everything nice and slow and remain confident in your abilities, you can refinish hardwood floors in your own home without having to pay the high labor costs of a contractor.

The first thing you want to do is prep the floor so it’s ready and that means sanding away what is there currently. Doing so will give you a brand new canvas, so to speak, upon which to beautify your flooring. So follow these steps to prep your floor ahead of the refinishing phase.

A Word about Grit

You are going to use sandpaper to sand and edge your floors but if you don’t know which one to use, you can’t do a very good job on the task at hand. Grit is the gauge as to how coarse or fine your sandpaper need to use.

When you start, you will usually choose a certain grit and then work your way down from that to finer sandpaper grits until your floors are properly prepped to your liking.


Using either a drum sander or a handle-held option, you begin with your initial gauge of grit. Start from one end of the room and make your way to the other. Just remember, do this all very slowly. No need to rush or expedite the process since you are not racing to finish the job.

The slower you work, the more thorough you can be about sanding the floor and avoiding any major mistakes that can permanently damage the wood flooring.

This is a process you made need to do repeatedly, switching to a finer grit each time. It all depends on the current state of your wood floor.


Most sanders come in a circular shape and that can make it very tough for getting right up to those areas where the floor and the wall meet. A wide circle is really best for covering as much floor area as possible. So while the work may go by quickly, you will be left with areas that were not reached by your sandpaper.

This is where your edging tool comes in. It comes in an angled shape that allows you to get those portions of the wall that were missed by the curved shape of your sander. Edging is supposed to complete the process of sanding with each pass, so when you do your edging be sure you are matching the grit of sandpaper on your edging tool to the same gauge as you have on your sander.

Otherwise the floor is going to look uneven and poorly prepapred for refinishing.

Now to Clean Up

This is very important and it must be done every time you’ve sanded and edged the floor, before you start your next pass. All those shavings and debris must be cleared out or you could scratch and damage the floor when you try to sand it down with the next grit.

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