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Angie’s List member T.J. Bradley of Ramsey, New Jersey, witnessed the transformation firsthand. Before moving into their home, Bradley says he and his wife hired Cronin Hardwood Floors in Little Ferry, New Jersey, to restore the hardwood floors. Carpet covered the floors for years, so they looked pretty sorry, Bradley says. It cost about $2,000 to sand, stain and finish roughly 1,000 square feet of hardwood. Bradley believes it was money well spent. “We were most surprised by how much wear and tear was removed by the sanding process,” he says. “… Now these 60-year-old hardwoods look brand new.” Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on March 27, 2015.


Whether it's red oak, pecan, walnut, cherry a rich gleaming hardwood floor is hard not to love. It is hands down the most stunning flooring available, not to mention durable, healthy and long living. But like any natural material it needs periodic maintenance beyond vacuuming and cleaning. Hardwood floors will remain beautiful for about 20 years before it will begin to look dull, discolored, and scratched and will need to be refinished. Scratches and the old finish will be sanded out and the floors will be refinished to a like new condition. Never try to do this yourself. Always hire a seasoned professional to sand and refinish your precious hardwood floors. Accordingly, a well care for hardwood floor lifetime is roughly about 120 to 160 years. There's no other flooring-apart from stone-that will serve you this well or this beautifully.


There are different techniques of stain application, but principals are the same. Apply stain on the surface of the wood; let it penetrate for a few minutes, and swipe everything what is left from the surface. Application can be done with a brush, rag, or roller. Try to work in the direction of a wood grain. On our video we will show how to use floor buffer for stain application. It is very convenient and time efficient method if you have a big floor area to stain. For creating darker color it is possible to apply the stain couple times.


This step might not be required if the color of the hardwood floors is already fine. If homeowners desire a different hardwood floor color or tone, though, it's time to call in a professional to stain the floor. This step generally requires several applications in addition to sanding in between coats. This typically adds time and cost to the overall project.


Recoating hardwood floors simply includes adding an additional protective layer on top of the floor's existing finish. Refinishing, however, involves sanding the floor's current finish down to the original bare wood and then adding a protective layer. As with any home improvement project, the cost of refinishing hardwood floors varies based on location, floor material, floor condition and other factors.


Floors should last 10 to 20 years before they require refinishing again, Swegle says. But determining how long a floor will last is like guessing how long a new car will run, Slaughterbeck says. It depends on the amount of traffic and how well it’s maintained, she says. Most floors that her company refinishes are about 12 years old. Telltale signs that the floor needs resealing include deep scratches that expose wood, wear marks, indentations from furniture and a lack of shine, Slaughterbeck says. These flaws often appear in high-traffic areas, in front of doors and the kitchen sink where dirt gets ground into the wood. Sanding removes much of the dirt and transforms the floors.


If you are planning to do it by hand yourself it can take a good few hours. If a hardwood flooring installer will use a buffer as we showed on the video for a couple of hours two people will stain the whole 600 sq ft house floor including the living room, bedroom, kitchen area and powder room.


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Because prices vary nationally, homeowners should use their heads, says Joan Slaughterbeck, owner of Slaughterbeck Floors in Campbell, California. Items that affect the price include the type of wood, stain and finish to be used, as well as the need to move any furniture or replace any rotted boards, she adds.


Because prices vary nationally, homeowners should use their heads, says Joan Slaughterbeck, owner of Slaughterbeck Floors in Campbell, California. Items that affect the price include the type of wood, stain and finish to be used, as well as the need to move any furniture or replace any rotted boards, she adds. “My advice to customers is: ‘If it sounds too low and too good to be true, it probably isn’t true,’” Slaughterbeck says.


Next, the provider stains the floor a certain hue, then applies multiple coats of finish. Refinishing projects can take one to two weeks because of the wait times between finish coats. Some finishes can be recoated in a few hours while others require a few days to bond fully. Either way, the finish needs to bond fully before homeowners move furniture back in, Swegle says. The end result depends on the type and quality of finish, so Swegle says he sends his customers links to the finishes he uses so they can decide what fits their needs. He cautions homeowners to learn about the stain and finish that a provider plans to use before hiring. “There are a lot of guys in Kansas City using a real cheap finish. I’m constantly going to resand floors or hearing horror stories,” Swegle says. “If they do a little bit of research, it can save them a whole lot of disappointment.”


When there is a wax coating on top of the floor's polyurethane finish or when the wood underneath the finish has been damaged or stained, the finish must be sanded down. During this step, the existing finish on top of the hardwood floors is sanded down to just bare wood. Though it's possible for homeowners to rent a sander and take on this step themselves, the risk of leaving large gouges in the floor is relatively high for a DIY project. This task is best left to the professionals.


Refinishing hardwood floors can be a DIY job, but it comes with many risks and potential hidden costs. For example, if your floor has been sanded down several times, the wood could be too thin for another refinishing and will need to be replaced. You should keep these hazards in mind before you embark on a DIY refinishing. Here are some other considerations involved in a DIY refinishing project:


When you look at all the scratches and marks to repair in your hardwood floor, you might think it's easier to replace them rather than taking the time to refinish them. However, there's a lot of benefits to refinishing the floors. These include:


All DIY home improvement projects come with risks, and refinishing wood floors is no exception. If done incorrectly, homeowners could end up gouging their floors, resulting in a more expensive and time consuming task than the original job. Homeowners can also end up with more dust and debris due to spending more time on the project than a professional would. Some other risks include:


Polyurethane is used as a protective coating for many wood floors. Over time, that coating is worn away by day-to-day use. Every few years, before the protective coat has grown too thin, it must be refreshed with a new coat. The floors first must be cleaned. The finish layer is then abraded so the new finish has something to hold onto, and then the new coat of finish is applied.


When to refinish wood flooringFloors should last 10 to 20 years before they require refinishing again, Swegle says. But determining how long a floor will last is like guessing how long a new car will run, Slaughterbeck says. It depends on the amount of traffic and how well it’s maintained, she says. Most floors that her company refinishes are about 12 years old. Telltale signs that the floor needs resealing include deep scratches that expose wood, wear marks, indentations from furniture and a lack of shine, Slaughterbeck says. These flaws often appear in high-traffic areas, in front of doors and the kitchen sink where dirt gets ground into the wood. Sanding removes much of the dirt and transforms the floors.


In addition to a sander, homeowners will need a long list of materials to get the job done. Some of these are common materials that most people have at home, but many are specialized, single-use materials that homeowners will need to purchase for the project. Depending on how many items are needed, it might cost more to do this as a DIY project than to hire a professional. The following materials and supplies are all necessary for hardwood refinishing or recoating: