Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors:

How long does it take?

The length of time depends on the details of the project (i.e. how many coats of poly, if you choose an oil based poly or water based poly, -Check out our blog about the pros and cons of water vs. oil-, if you’re doing a stain vs. keeping it natural, square footage, etc.)

From start to finish (not necessarily including drying times) the sanding and refinishing can take 4-7days.

Usually, the first day is designated to prepping and sanding the floors. We sand off all the old finish down to the raw hardwood. This is a multistep process to ensure the best possible outcome. Different sanding machines are used, each having its own important purpose and contribution to the whole sanding process. It’s meticulously done in steps, or layers; starting with big machines and course grit paper, and gradually working our way to hand sanding using a finer grit paper. Each step is important and is done with care.

On the second day, if you chose to stain your hardwood floors, this is when the stain is applied.  However, if you chose the option of “water-popping” your floor, that will be done just before the staining.   If you are keeping the floors natural; the water pop and staining steps are replaced by applying the first coat of poly.

On the third day, the first coat of poly will be applied onto the stained hardwood. However, if keeping the floors natural, (and assuming the climate and temperature is in our favor) this would be the day we apply the second coat of poly on the hardwood.

On the fourth day, we will screen, wipe the floors down with mineral spirits and apply the second coat so long as the first coat of poly is dry. It’s not uncommon in humid climates for the poly to take longer than 24 hours to dry. If keeping the hardwood floors a natural finish, this would be the last day for the process as this is when the final coat of poly is applied.

As a general rule- 24 hours is more than sufficient drying times for oil based polyurethane.

On the fifth day, we screen, wipe the floors down with mineral spirits and apply the last coat of poly.

It is best to wait 24 hours from the last coat of poly to walk on the floors with socks. After 48 hours, you can walk on the floors with shoes. However, you need to wait 4 full days to put furniture on the newly refinished hardwood floors.

In short, the sanding and refinishing process can usually take 4-7 days from start to finish. There are variables that affect how long the process will take. For example, a natural finish is usually a faster option because you are not adding a day staining the floor. Depending on square footage, we can sand, water pop and stain the floors on day one.

It’s always best to prepare for more time than less.

Can we walk on the floors during the process?

No. When sanding and refinishing, the floors cannot be used or walked on. When applied, the stain and polyurethane are wet. Each coat needs at least 24 hours to dry, in humid climates more time may be needed.

How long after the last coat of poly can we start using the floors?

After the last coat of poly has been applied you can walk on the floors with socks after 24 hours. To walk on the floors with shoes you have to wait at least 48 hours. To put furniture on the floors, it is best to wait 4 full days.

What if I already moved in/live in the home?

This is a bit tricky but not impossible. It just takes some coordination and maneuverability. First, we would need to figure out if there is a way for you to stay in the home while this is being done-although this isn’t completely recommended as the smell of both oil base poly and stain can be overwhelming. Second is to determine what will be done with the furniture. In cases where the homeowner has already moved in with furniture, we have to sand in 2 phases to accommodate for the furniture storage. For example, we can sand and refinish the living room entryway and den. Then phase two is the dining room and kitchen.

How long should the pets stay off the floor?

We recommend keeping the pets off the floors for at least 2 weeks.

Should we paint before OR after you sand and refinish the hardwood?

Some companies say it’s best to sand the floors and then paint. However, our honest opinion is to paint walls and cabinets first. Have the floors sanded and refinished and then have the kick plates (kick plates are the finished pieces under the cabinets) either installed or painted along with the base and shoe molding.

How long does the newly sanded and refinished floor usually last?

This is entirely dependent on the care of the floors. However, as a general rule, it’s best to have the floors screened and recoated every 5-7 years.

How much dust will there be? 

Here at The Couture Floor Company, we strive to keep the dust to a complete minimum. We use a system that drastically reduces the amount of dust released by the machines. Many of our customers compliment just how clean and careful we are with the dust. While even the dustless containment system isn’t 100% dust free, it will reduce the amount of dust left behind by about 85-90%.

Is there a smell?

Yes there is a smell. While the severity of the smell is a matter of perspective- we typically recommend staying out of the house while the sanding and refinishing process is taking place.

Feel free to call 1-855-914-TCFC to set up an in-home consultation for your Sanding and Refinishing needs in Westchester and the surrounding counties.

2 thoughts on “Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors:”

  1. I have noticed that my hardwood floors aren’t looking very good, and I have been wondering if I could get it refinished. I’m glad that the process will only take 4-7 days! Thank you for mentioning what would happen on each day! That is really interesting that the first day is just about sanding and prepping the floors. I didn’t know they required that much sanding.

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