A Step-by-Step Look at Refinishing Hardwood Floors & Stairs

Here’s what you can expect when you hire the professionals at Barnum Floors to refinish your existing hardwood.

Step 1: Base Shoe & Trim

Before the floors can be refinished, it is necessary to prep your home by removing all existing base shoe (that small piece along the bottom of your trim), appliances, and furniture. Our staff can take care of all these items except the furniture removal. Your fridge will be relocated to a place where it can be plugged back in, and your stove will be out of use for the time of the project. There are several companies in town that remove & put back furniture for an hourly rate.

If the refinish areas have been carpeted, you will most likely need to have new base shoe trim installed around the perimeter of your room. This piece of trim hides the space between your hardwood and the base trim that is left for the expansion and contraction of your home. This gap has currently been hidden by the carpet & pad. Our trim carpenters will arrive prior to sanding to remove the existing base shoe and finalize measures for the new trim that will be necessary to complete the project.

Step 2: “Lace In” New Wood as Needed

Sometimes in older homes, it is necessary to replace or “lace in” new wood to the existing hardwood due to water damage, pet stains, or areas where previous cold air returns were located. Most of the time there is little to no difference between the new wood and existing wood once the project is completed.

Step 3: Prepare & Plastic Off Areas

On the day the sanding process begins, our crews will arrive and prepare your home for sanding. We will plastic off any doorways, cabinetry, or areas that are not being refinished. Although we have dustless sanding, occasionally dust can escape into the room. The plastic adds another layer of protection.

Step 4: Sand, Buff & Tack the Hardwood

The sanding of your hardwood floor involves numerous steps. The sanders start with a more aggressive grit sandpaper to remove the current finish and debris, then they make several additional cuts with the sanders at higher grits to produce a smooth, even surface. This process can take one day or multiple days depending on the size of the area you are refinishing. We follow the sanding guidelines set forth by the National Wood Flooring Association with each step. The final process is to vacuum and dry tack the wood in preparation for coating.

Step 5: Coating

Barnum Floors offers various types of finish choices. We use water-borne urethanes, oil-modified urethanes, and hard wax oils. The process and schedule for applying finish vary based on the product you’ve chosen and the manufacturer’s dry time. Some products allow you to get across the floor in the evening in stocking feet, while others require you to be completely off the wood areas throughout all of the coating steps. Pets need to be off the floors during the course of the coating, regardless of finish choice. We will provide you with a detailed schedule for your particular project so you will know when you can and cannot be on the finish.

Step 6: Putting Your House Back Together

After the final coat, (which could be the next day or several days depending on when the weekend falls in the schedule) we will arrive and begin to put your house back together. Appliances will be returned to their places, all existing base shoe or new base shoe will be installed, and any doors that have been removed will be re-hung. You will be responsible for the final fill and touch up of all trim work

We may have removed your toilet or pedestal sink to complete this project, and ocasionally a dishwasher also needs to be removed depending on the tear-out. If so, a plumber will need to be called to reinstall these items as our insurance does not cover the installation of plumbing on these items. We can arrange a plumber for you if desired, and you will be billed directly by them for their service.

Step 7: Protecting Your Hardwood After Refinishing

Protecting your hardwood will be the most critical component to keeping your investment looking new, and we offer several protective options for you. We recommend you put felt protection on all furniture. Additionally, we recommend you install wool “tap-ins” on all moving wooden furniture, including chairs, bar stools, and ottomans. These wool pads pound into the legs of your chairs and last for several years. Along with installing wool pads, plastic wheels on rolling chairs must be replaced with rubber rolling wheels.

Barnum Floors will provide you with a complimentary cleaning kit to get you started caring for your floor properly from the first day. Different finishes require different cleaning products, so be sure to talk to the staff in our office. There are many interior products on the market right now that say they will “rejuvenate” your hardwood, when in fact that causes oil build-up to adhere to the urethane. We advise you to avoid any and all products that say they will renew, polish, or rejuvenate your hardwood.

We encourage our customers to enjoy their hardwood and remember — “this is a floor, NOT a piece of fine furniture.” Rugs should be left off of the hardwood until the finish has had a chance to completely cure from the inside out, and the same rules apply to cleaning your floor. The waiting period is 1-3 weeks depending on the finish used.

Step 8: Maintaining Your Hardwood Floors

Barnum Floors recommends you have your floors buffed and recoated or a renew oil coat applied occasionally to maintain the integrity of your finish and to apply new coats of protection. This process should be done to prevent your hardwood from needing to be refinished again. When this should be done varies greatly depending on your lifestyle, pets, and children, among other factors. Some people need this done in 5-7 years, while others can wait 7-10 years.

The procedure is usually a one-day process. For this process, all the furniture must be removed from the hardwood areas, but we do not need to remove trim or appliances. In most cases, you can be on the floor later that night or the next day. You can contact Barnum Floors to set up a time for someone to come out and access your need for this service.

Learn More About the Hardwood in Your Home