How Refinishing a Wood Floor is Done

Hardwood floor refinishing is a intricate process – takes a lot of learning, time & dedication. This guide is to show how Floor Masters does each hardwood floor refinishing process. The guide is beneficial for our customers to see how we will tackle their project start to finish and how much work is put into each floor to make them look amazing. The overall process of refinishing a wood floor is simple, paper with rocks attached spinning on a machine. The hard part is learning how to manipulate the tools used to perfection.

Step #1 |Information| – The first step of any project is to learn the floor.

– Where water damage is
– Moisture issues
– Stains / pet issues
– Direction light comes into the room
– Type of flooring finish on the floor currently

These above items allow us to use the right sand paper, where we will be coating the floor and what direction to ensure the best look & what to let you know to expect after sanding. Sometimes stains don’t come out, pet urine lightly stains the floor etc.

Step #2 |Sanding Schedule| –  Once we have determined the type of wood flooring, the finish that is on the wood flooring we can begin to plan our sanding schedule. The NWFA Guidelines have set sanding schedule rules. Floor Masters over the years has created a list (documentation) of different floors, the outcomes and what worked best for each floor we have sanded. So, if your floor is a maple floor with oil finish, we have a plan that gets the floor sanded to perfection, same with white oak, red oak etc. All our documentation saves us time of “thinking” and more time making the floor perfect. Our sanding schedules do not change stain vs no stain.

Step #3 |Rough Cut|  –  The first sanding is the “rough cut”. This will be the initial sanding of the floor. Sandpaper grits go from a low number to a higher number. The lower number means bigger minerals – less per sq inch. Usually we start with a 40grit/50grit sandpaper or 50 minerals per sq inch. If the floor needs more sanding we drop down to a 36g and that is usually enough for a refinish in homes. This 36g-50g is for the “big machine” or the bigger belt sander. We use the belt sander on a majority of the floor as it is bigger and has more pressure on the floor, thus sanding it faster, more evenly and overall flatter. The key to a good hardwood floor refinish is someone who really takes care of their big machine. A out of whack big machine creates inconsistencies in the floor and makes it look bad. A well take care of machine makes for a perfectly flat floor. While some companies do not worry about this and rely on the planetary sanders, that is not a good method and frequently does not pan out.

Step #4 |Edging| – It is now time to sand the edges. We sand the edges with a Lagler Flip. This edger is a bit different than a conventional sander like the Super 7. It is more of a finesse machine and creates a wonderful cut pattern to mesh with the big machine. The machine has a much more balanced feel to it and creates a much flatter cut. Each machine is optimized and balanced to work great. The great part about this edging machine is that it is very simple to setup and therefore creates the best outcome on each and every floor. The edger uses 6″ discs that spin at around 2400RPM. This machine if used well is seamless to the whole process. If someone without a good knowledge of how it works can really mess up a floor and its look very fast.

Step #5 |Edge Fine Sanding| – After the doing is done then we go around the edges again with an orbital sander. The Edger scratches are hard to see but can be visible. However, with a random orbital it is harder to see these scratches and it also gets you closer to the floor to find any flaws along the edge. Depending on the type of wood depends on which sandpaper we use. Usually we use 80g to 100g as orbital sanders paper is spinning much faster and creates a different smoothness then other machines.

Step #6 |Planetary Sander| – This machine makes the floor super smooth. It is used to mesh the edging and the rough cut together. We usually go to 120g-150g on this machine. The cut pattern is random and makes it very hard for the eye to see any repeating scratch as there are no repeating scratch patterns! You use this machine on every part of the floor and get it very close to the edges. This makes the floor have one cohesive sanding scratch. This is a very important part of the floor and must not be rushed during the hardwood refinishing process.

Step #7 |Cleaning| – The crucial part of the floor is the cleaning part of the floor. The first and major thing with cleaning is obviously to get all debris off the floor that was created during the refinishing process. Honestly, we vacuum between the rough cut and the fine sanding. But, at this point we are vacuuming very slowly and methodically. This is the time that the vacuuming really counts and shows in the final coats. This also serve the propose and floor looking time, we look at the floor constantly for anything that sticks out. The floor should look like one solid piece of wood without any eye catching change sin color/sheen. IF there is something looking odd, it is now the time to take care of it. During a hardwood refinish the vacuuming time is the biggest key to a successful floor refinish.

Step #8 |The Finish| – After the vacuuming of the newly sanded hardwood floor it is time to put the sealer and finish coats on the floor. The prep up to this point in the wood floor refinishing process makes or breaks the job. A floor that has been prepped & inspected will have fantastic results – a floor that has not been perfectly prepped will have horrific results. So now that the floor is prepped correctly we put the finish on the floor and do 4 coats of finish. Floor masters uses 4 coats of finish during a hardwood flooring refinish project to ensure great longevity of the floor and make it have more luster.

Step #9 |The Reveal| – The final step after the floor is done it to walk the floor with each and every customer of ours. We feel it is necessary to give each floor a reveal to the clients – It lets us show you our work and what we are proud of doing. It also lets you ask any questions to preserve the beauty of the floor for years to come. A Hardwood floor refinish is a lot of work and time.


A hardwood floor refinish as you can see is a lot of work and this is a simplified version of each and every step we do. We try to spend as much time on the floor as possible to make it as perfect as possible.

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