How to Refinish a 1950s House Hardwood Floor

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Things You'll Need

  • 36-grit sandpaper

  • Orbital floor sander

  • Shop vacuum

  • 80-grit sandpaper

  • 120-grit sandpaper

  • Tack cloths

  • Respirator

  • Knee pads

  • Rubber gloves

  • Paint stripping solvent

  • Nylon pads

  • Gel stain

  • 4-inch natural-bristled paintbrush

  • Solvent-based polyurethane

  • Roller frame

  • Roller extension pole

  • Foam roller cover

Hardwood floors were standard in most homes built in the 1950s. In those days, hardwood floors were created thicker, a characteristic that allowed them to stand the test of time and hold up to multiple acts of refinishing. Over time, existing finishes on older floors can darken. If you'd like to breathe new life into a hardwood floor from the 1950s, consider stripping down the original finish, or you may end up with disappointing results.


Step 1

Sand the 1950s hardwood three times, using a floor sander. Start with a coarse 36-grit sandpaper. Vacuum up as much sawdust as possible. Repeat this step twice more, progressing from 80-grit to 120-grit.

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Step 2

Remove sawdust from the hardwood by wiping it with tack cloths.

Step 3

Put on a knee pads, a respirator and rubber gloves.

Step 4

Wipe the hardwood with paint stripping solvent, using nylon pads. Stop once the existing finish is lightened to your personal taste. Leave the room; let the hardwood dry for two hours.


Step 5

Brush the gel stain onto a 2- to 3-foot wide portion of the lightened hardwood. Wipe off the gel, using rags. Repeat this procedure until the entire 1950s hardwood floor is coated. Let the gel dry for four hours.

Step 6

Add a coat of polyurethane to the hardwood, using a roller. Don't walk on the floor for at least four full hours.


Be sure to use a slow-absorbing gel stain on 1950s hardwood floors; liquid stains will dry unevenly.


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