How the Pros Refinish Hardwood Floors

I know you like to see projects that are DIY, but I am taking a break today from one of these normally scheduled posts to show and tell you how nice it was to hire a hardwood flooring contractor to refinish hardwood floors in my kitchen and mudroom.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors

I had planned to do it myself, but kept putting the job off since I knew it was going to be a time-consuming and life disrupting job.  Then about 2 months ago, Ed casually said out of the blue, “We should just hire someone to do it.”  That was music to my ears.

We had a few unexpected expenses come up between then and now that kept pushing getting it completed back–like having to replace our HVAC unit, but I have saved up – no trips to the mall to buy things I didn’t need and my saving account grew fast. Funny how when you budget and give up the unimportant stuff – things all fall into place.  I called the flooring guy we chose after getting 3 estimates and this week it was completed.


I felt like we were moving since we had to move everything out of the kitchen and mudroom. I used a wide angle lens to take these photos. It makes the foyer look a lot longer then it really is.


The floor above was refinished 19 years ago. You can see where it had gotten worn – the one chair area where Ed sat every day all day long on his computer after losing his job is the most worn spot.


I had stenciled a border around the floor when we first moved in.


I also created my own stencil design and painted a faux rug in the mudroom – it held up extremely well – 19 years. I never would have thought I would even live in one house for this long!


There were places that were still perfect, but overall the color got increasingly orange over the years. I wanted it to match the rest of the first floor hardwood that is darker than the kitchen floor.


Two floor guys came early Wednesday morning and sanded the old finish off with this sander. It took them about 3 hours. It would have taken me days to get it to look as good as they got it in a few short hours.  You need some skills to operate this baby so you don’t create divots in the floor.


Looks amazing – so clean and smooth. Even the floor guys said it was in great condition and looked as if they just put a new floor in, not sanded an old one. The flooring was made by North American Hardwoods.


I taped off an area in the mudroom that I didn’t want them to stain or poly over after they sanded. I am going to paint a new rug. Can’t wait to start it next week.


You can see the color I was trying to match in this photo of the threshold going to the dining room.


They did a great job matching the color. This is where the floor meets up with the family room.  The stain was applied with a long thin roller.


They were finished by noon.

We have been eating out. We transferred the contents of the fridge to one that we have in the garage.   This makes it quite handy to still be able to have access to food for the next few days since we cannot walk on the floor.


The flooring guys came back this morning to add the polyurethane.   They applied 3 thin coats.  After each coat dried, they sanded it with fine sandpaper discs that they put on the buffing machine. They swept up the grit and dust, then applied another coat of poly with the long roller.  It took all of 10 minutes for each coat of poly to be applied.  They waited an hour in between each coat to sand and reapply the poly. It is not water-based poly and it is smelling up the entire house!!!

The last coat of poly is on – all nice and shiny.  We have the rooms blocked off from our 4-legged kids while we wait for it to dry and cure – 48 hours.

Until then, we will be living without a kitchen.  It feels a bit like we are camping, but instead of being outdoors in nature, we are in the dining room among piles of stuff we removed from the kitchen. The dining room has not seen this much action in a long time.

What You Should Know Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors

1. Do it while on vacation:   If you have an active household or can’t handle the heavy duty smell of the stain and poly – plan to do this when you are on vacation or stay at a friend’s house for a few days.

2. The room will be unusable:  The room will be unusable for a few days.  If it is your kitchen floor you will need to plan ahead about how you are going to cook. We have set up the hall powder room to make coffee and toast in the morning. We are using the dining room to eat breakfast and lunch and going out for dinner.

3.  Use plastic disc sliders:  You have to move everything out of the room and I mean everything. Using  plastic disc sliders makes this easy to move big pieces of furniture to other rooms.

4. Mask the room: We used plastic tarps. Even with these  in place, a fine layer of sanding dust is over everything on the first floor.

5. Tape over every crevice:   Any opening or crevice in the room should be covered to help lessen the dust from getting into hard to clean places.  I used wide blue painter’s tape to cover outlets and the crevice between the oven and cabinet.

6. Caution tape:  Place painters tape across  the inside and outside of the doorways to the room. This will remind you, so habit doesn’t  cause you to accidentelly walk into the room..

7. Have a small palm sander ready:  A detailing or small sander will get the edges and tight areas sanded. I noticed in some places to get the stencil completely off,  the contractor was using a chisel like tool to remove a few stubborn spots.

8.. Keep out pets:  This  has  proven to be the hardest part of the entire process.  We have set them up with plushness and lots of treats in the upstairs bathroom and bring the 2 dogs down every few hours to go out.  The cat has a litter box in the bathroom.

I am so excited to finally have this project done.  I feel like I have a brand new kitchen. I am liking the clean lines of the empty counters and may be rethinking what I add back to the room.

I am so happy that we waited and saved up the money to get this done professionally. I would have never gotten these results. It was worth the wait to have a pro do it.

Next on my agenda – cleaning! There is a fine layer of dust everywhere. I am making the chore of cleaning it into something positive  – my house needs a really good cleaning – a REALLY GOOD one!  I am going to clean in such a way that would have made my mother proud    – The new floor has given me the energy to do it.

Budget doesn’t allow me to hire out for the cleaning job, too… Maybe in my next life.

Everything you need to know before refinishing wood floors
Refinishing Hardwood Flooring

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Hi! Mind if I ask the price range for the refinished floors? Like a per square foot cost or per room. It looks incredible. Happy for u.

  2. Just happened by your site this morning and this post caught my eye – we’re thinking of having our floors done in our 100 year old home. Thank you for all the tips and what to expect. You’ve given me all the information I would have asked about myself! Your home looks so very lovely and the floors look even better than new!

    Your faux rug was truly the highlight of your post, however, and I spent a long time zooming in on it and trying to see every detail. What a great idea, and your rug was absolutely beautiful. You mentioned that you are painting a new one and I hope that project will be the subject of a future post!

    Thank you so very much!

  3. Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG says:

    came over from Eclectically Vintage…love your home and your style – I am a new follower!!

  4. Jackie Sorich says:

    The floors look beautiful. The kitchen is gorgeous, love the color of the cabinets and walls. Beautiful!

  5. Helen Henkler says:

    Love your floors Diane!!! I did opt to do mine myself. They came out great, I honestly don’t think a pro could’ve done a better job. BUT it took months. (at that point, it was only me in the house, no pets.)
    Glad you were able to treat yourself though. They really look marvelous.

  6. Christine says:

    They look wonderful……so happy for you!

  7. The floors look so beautiful! I can’t wait for your final reveal after you get everything put back in place.

  8. Absolutely beautiful floors, Diane! I also cannot believe the rug in that picture is a faux rug, it looks so real. Great job. I watch a lot of DIY shows and that floor sander always makes the job look so easy, but I bet it is really something to maneuver.

  9. Delight Ellis says:

    Wow, your floors are gorgeous! What a huge undertaking! We have refinished the floors in 2 rooms of our 1840’s farmhouse. What a job! Sure didn’t take us 3! So happy for you!

  10. Christina Makri says:

    It looks like a ballroom. Makes you want to swirl. It is wonderful and will surely become even more beautiful once you start to decorate…

  11. Looking really good! Bet you can’t wait to move all the furniture back! ;)

  12. Diane, it looks gorgeous! I can see how this would be a motivator to want to clean everything- it’s almost as if you are moving in for the very first time. Enjoy!

  13. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Oh Diane,
    How fabulous for you? I mean…… oh my gosh …….. how gorgeous and you got to eat out? It is so beautiful….. and I am so jealous……… really I am. (Should be putting lol here…… but grrrr)……… hee heehee & grrr.

  14. Diane | An Extraordinary Day says:

    Diane…your new floors are beautiful!! I really like the stain color. You are right…it’s going to feel like a whole new kitchen. I’m so happy for you!! :)
    BTW…has Ed for employment?
    Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Diane and thanks for asking about Ed. He has not yet found a job, but has gotten steady consulting work which is nice. We are still waiting on a start-up company that wants him to work for them to get rolling. The shut-down in Washington did not help that timetable. I hope you have an extraordinary weekend. It is very fall like here -chilly, but beautiful.