How to Refinish Painted Hardwood Floors

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If you're hoping to restore that painted hardwood floor back to it's original luster, it may be easier and less expensive than you think. With a little time and elbow grease, you can have that hardwood floor looking new again!

Things You'll Need

  • Paint stripper
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Floor sander
  • Several grades of sandpaper
  • Respiratory mask
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Soft cloths
  • Several paint brushes
  • Polyurethane or water-based floor finish
  • Mineral spirits

Refinish Painted Hardwood Floors

  • Remove all furniture and rugs from the room. You'll need easy access to the entire floor without having to move furniture or rugs as you work.

  • Open the windows to provide adequate ventilation. Open windows in the room where you'll be working and in any adjacent rooms to allow the circulation of fresh air.

  • Don your safety glasses and rubber gloves before applying the paint stripper. The stripper can cause permanent damage to your skin and eyes if it comes into contact with them.

  • Apply the paint stripper, working in a small area at a time. Use a 3 inch wide paint brush to apply the paint stripper along the grain of the wood being careful not to allow the stripper to come in contact with your skin or clothing.

  • Allow the paint stripper time to work. Most paint strippers require at least 20 minutes to work properly. You'll know it's working when the paint begins to bubble and takes on a rubbery consistency.

  • Use a plastic paint scraper to carefully peel the paint from the floor. Always work in the direction of the grain when working with hardwood flooring and use a plastic scraper to lesson the risk of damage that could require extra sanding time to repair.

  • Clean up the stripped paint using a broom and dust pan and thoroughly wash your paint brush using mineral spirits, even if you're not planning to use it again. A second coat of paint stripper may be needed if your first attempt didn't remove most of the paint. If this is the case, repeat Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7.

  • Rent a professional floor sander and be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions precisely. Allow yourself time to get acquainted with the sander before you begin your work and always have an adequate supply of sandpaper available. You'll need several grades of sandpaper and several hours to complete the job.

  • Place the respiratory mask over your nose and mouth to minimize the possibility of inhaling the fine dust particles deposited in the air as you sand the floor.

  • Sand the floor evenly using each grade of sandpaper recommended by the hardwood floor sander manufacturer. You'll probably sand your floor at least three times, progressing to a finer grit paper each time.

  • Sweep the floor thoroughly to remove the dust. Sanding your floor will produce a lot of dust that must be removed before you proceed on to Step 12. After you've swept the floor, a quick once-over with a vacuum will help remove any particles you may have missed with the broom.

  • Apply the floor finish in long strokes, working with the grain of the hardwood. You can choose a polyurethane or water-based finish. A water-based finish should be dry in a little more than 24 hours while the polyurethane finish may take as much as 4 days. Start in a corner of the room and work in small sections until you've finished the entire floor.

  • Allow plenty of time for the finish to dry before you walk on it and resist the urge to use a fan to speed drying time. A fan will circulate dust and hair from other areas and deposit them on your newly refinished floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to apply a second coat of floor finish to enhance color and shine.
  • Wearing knee pads will help protect your knees when applying floor finish.
  • Properly clean your brushes using mineral spirits or paint thinner between coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying another.
  • Never use paint stripper or floor finish near an open flame or in areas of poor ventilation.
  • The fine dust particles in the air during sanding are extremely flammable!

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