Sanding Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a popular choice for homeowners due to their timeless beauty and durability. Prefinished hardwood floors, in particular, offer a convenient option for those seeking a quick installation process. However, over time, these floors may show signs of wear and tear. Sanding prefinished hardwood floors can be an effective way to restore their original luster and beauty. In this article, we will explore the process of sanding prefinished hardwood floors, step-by-step, and provide essential tips for successful refinishing.

Having prefinished hardwood floors installed in your home can instantly elevate its aesthetic appeal. These floors come with a factory-applied finish that protects them from scratches and stains, making them more resistant to daily wear compared to unfinished hardwood floors. However, even the most durable finishes may eventually wear off or become dull, especially in high-traffic areas. That’s when sanding and refinishing become necessary.

What are Prefinished Hardwood Floors?

Prefinished hardwood floors are wood planks that have been prefinished with a protective coating in a controlled factory environment. The finishing process involves applying multiple layers of sealant, stain (if desired), and topcoat to the wood surface. Once the finish has cured, the planks are ready for installation. Prefinished hardwood floors offer the advantage of being ready for use immediately after installation, without the need for sanding or finishing on-site.

The Benefits of Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Prefinished hardwood floors come with several benefits that make them a popular choice among homeowners. Firstly, they offer convenience as they eliminate the need for sanding and finishing during the installation process. This means less mess and a faster turnaround time. Additionally, prefinished floors often come with extended warranties, providing peace of mind to homeowners.

Another advantage of prefinished hardwood floors is the range of options available. They come in various wood species, finishes, and colors, allowing homeowners to choose the one that best suits their style and preferences. Prefinished floors also tend to have a more uniform appearance since they are finished in a controlled factory environment.

Understanding the Sanding Process

Before diving into the sanding process for prefinished hardwood floors, it’s essential to understand why sanding is necessary and the tools required for the job.

Why Sanding is Necessary

Over time, prefinished hardwood floors may develop scratches, surface wear, or dullness due to foot traffic, furniture movement, and general usage. Sanding the floor helps to remove the old finish, shallow scratches, and imperfections, revealing a fresh layer of wood. It also provides a smooth surface for the application of new finishes, enhancing the overall appearance of the floor.

Tools and Equipment Needed for Sanding

To sand prefinished hardwood floors effectively, you’ll need the following tools and equipment:

  1. Orbital or Belt Sander:
    An orbital or belt sander is the primary tool used for sanding hardwood floors. These sanders have different levels of aggressiveness, allowing you to choose the appropriate one based on the condition of your floor.
  2. Sanding Pads or Sandpaper:
    Sanding pads or sandpaper with different grits are used for different stages of sanding. Coarser grits are used initially to remove the old finish and deeper scratches, while finer grits are used for a smoother finish.
  3. Edger or Detail Sander:
    An edger or detail sander is used for sanding corners, edges, and areas that the main sander cannot reach.
  4. Vacuum Cleaner and Broom:
    These are essential for cleaning the floor before and after sanding to remove dust, debris, and wood particles.
  5. Safety Equipment:
    Wearing safety goggles, a dust mask, and ear protection is crucial to protect yourself from the dust and noise generated during sanding.

Now that we have covered the basics let’s move on to the step-by-step guide to sanding prefinished hardwood floors.

Preparation before Sanding Hardwood Floors

Before you start sanding your prefinished hardwood floors, it’s important to make some necessary preparations to ensure a smooth and successful refinishing process.

Clearing the Room

Begin by removing all furniture, rugs, and any other items from the room. This will provide you with a clear workspace and prevent any obstacles during the sanding process. Additionally, covering nearby rooms or doorways with plastic sheets can help contain the dust generated during sanding.

Repairing Damaged Areas

Inspect the floor for any visible damage such as deep scratches, gouges, or loose boards. Address these issues before sanding by filling the gaps or repairing the damaged areas. Use wood putty or filler appropriate for hardwood floors to fill in gaps and cracks, ensuring a level surface.

Protecting Walls and Furniture

To avoid accidental damage, it’s essential to protect the walls, baseboards, and any nearby furniture. Cover the baseboards with painter’s tape and plastic sheets. Consider using drop cloths or plastic covers to shield furniture and other valuables in the room.

Step-by-Step Guide to Sanding Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Now that you have prepared the room, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of sanding prefinished hardwood floors.

Step 1: Inspecting the Floor

Thoroughly inspect the floor to identify any nails or staples that may be sticking out. Use a hammer or nail punch to secure them below the surface to prevent damage to the sanding equipment.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Sandpaper

Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper, such as 40 or 60 grit, to remove the old finish and scratches. As you progress, switch to finer grits, such as 80 or 100 grit, for a smoother finish. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to attach the sandpaper to your sander.

Step 3: Sanding in Stages

Divide the floor into manageable sections and sand one section at a time. Begin sanding along the grain of the wood, moving the sander in a smooth and consistent motion. Overlap each pass slightly to ensure even sanding. As you progress, gradually switch to finer grits until you achieve the desired smoothness.

Step 4: Sanding Corners and Edges

For corners and edges that the main sander couldn’t reach, use an edger or detail sander. Take care to feather the edges of these sanded areas to ensure a seamless transition between the main floor and the edges.

Step 5: Vacuuming and Cleaning the Floor

After each sanding stage, thoroughly vacuum the floor to remove dust and debris. Follow it up with a damp cloth or mop to wipe away any remaining residue. It’s crucial to have a clean and dust-free surface before proceeding to the next sanding stage.

Step 6: Filling Gaps and Cracks

Inspect the floor for any remaining gaps or cracks that need to be filled. Use a suitable wood filler to fill in these imperfections, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the filler to dry completely before sanding the floor again.

Step 7: Final Sanding Passes

For the final sanding passes, use a fine-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge, such as 120 or 150 grit, to achieve a smooth and uniform surface. Take your time and pay attention to detail to ensure a flawless finish.

Finishing the Refinishing Process

Once you have completed the sanding process, it’s time to finish the refinishing process and restore the beauty of your prefinished hardwood floors.

Staining the Floor (Optional)

If you wish to change the color of your prefinished hardwood floors, staining is an option. Choose a wood stain that complements your desired aesthetic and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Test the stain on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it achieves the desired result.

Applying Sealant or Finish

After sanding and staining (if applicable), apply a sealant or finish to protect the wood and enhance its appearance. Select a high-quality product suitable for hardwood floors and apply it following the instructions provided. Use a brush, roller, or applicator pad to ensure even coverage. Allow the finish to dry completely before stepping on the floor or placing furniture back in the room.

Buffing and Polishing

For an extra touch of elegance, you can consider buffing and polishing the newly refinished prefinished hardwood floors. Use a floor buffer or polisher equipped with a fine-grit pad to gently buff the surface, bringing out its natural shine.

Maintenance Tips for Hardwood Floors

To keep your refinished prefinished hardwood floors looking their best, it’s important to follow proper maintenance practices. Here are some tips to help you maintain the beauty and longevity of your floors:

Regular Cleaning

Regularly sweep or vacuum the floor to remove dust, dirt, and debris that can scratch the surface. Use a microfiber mop or cloth slightly dampened with a hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer to remove any spills or stains.

Preventive Measures

Place doormats at entrances to prevent dirt and grit from being tracked onto the floor. Use felt pads or furniture coasters under the legs of furniture to prevent scratches. Avoid walking on the floor with high heels or shoes with sharp objects that may damage the surface.

Refinishing Frequency

The frequency of refinishing your prefinished hardwood floors depends on various factors such as foot traffic, wear and tear, and the quality of the original finish. Generally, it’s recommended to refinish the floors every 5-10 years or when signs of wear become noticeable.


Sanding prefinished hardwood floors can breathe new life into your space, restoring the natural beauty of the wood. By following the step-by-step guide and taking proper care of your refinished floors, you can enjoy their timeless elegance for years to come. Remember to prioritize safety, choose the right tools and materials, and be patient throughout the refinishing process.


  1. Can I sand hardwood floors myself?

Yes, it is possible to sand prefinished hardwood floors yourself. However, it requires proper tools, equipment, and knowledge of the process. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with DIY projects, it’s best to hire a professional flooring contractor.

  1. How long does it take to sand and refinish prefinished hardwood floors?

The time it takes to sand and refinish prefinished hardwood floors depends on various factors, such as the size of the room, the condition of the floors, and the number of sanding stages required. On average, it can take several days to complete the entire process, including drying time for the finishes.

  1. Can I change the color of prefinished hardwood floors during sanding?

Yes, you can change the color of prefinished hardwood floors during sanding by applying a wood stain. Keep in mind that staining is an optional step and requires careful preparation and application to achieve the desired result.

  1. Are there any risks involved in sanding prefinished hardwood floors?

Sanding prefinished hardwood floors can generate a significant amount of dust and noise. It’s important to wear appropriate safety gear, such as goggles, a dust mask, and ear protection, to minimize the risks associated with dust inhalation and loud noise.

  1. What is the cost of sanding prefinished hardwood floors?

The cost of sanding prefinished hardwood floors can vary depending on factors such as the size of the room, the condition of the floors, and the location. It’s recommended to obtain quotes from professional flooring contractors to get an accurate estimate for your specific project.

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