How To Bring Old Hardwood Floors Back to Life (Shiny and New)

renewed hardwood floors with light shining in

Hardwood floors have been a trend that always seems to come back. In the 80s and 90s, they began to resurface, and we are seeing the interior design world begin to obsess over hardwood flooring once again. With this ongoing trend, the only problem is keeping your flooring up to date. Homeowners want to know how to bring old hardwood floors back to life. Is that original shine possible though?

Old hardwood floors can be brought back to life and shine by cleaning and refinishing them. Some floors may just need a cleaning and a new coat of finish, while others will need to be completely cleaned, sanded, stained, and refinished.

You’ll love the appearance and feel of well-cared for hardwood floor. So what are some DIY (Do It Yourself) home remedies you can do to keep your floors looking shiny and new?

What To Know Before You Renew Your Hardwood Floors

When you are beginning a new project, especially one in your house, it is good to know some tips and tricks before you begin. This can help to eliminate any issues or problems, as well as create a better end result.

Hardwood Scratches and How to Prevent Them:

Hardwood floors can become dull over time due to wear and tear. Dirt and debris brought in from shoes are the biggest culprits of dulling your hardwood floors. Not only do these two make your hardwood floors appear duller, but they also leave behind small scratches in the wood, breaking it down over time.

One of the best ways to prevent the scratches caused by dirt and debris is by not allowing “outside shoes” to walk on the hardwood floor. While this may seem like an outdated tradition, it really does help to keep your floors in good shape for longer.

Stop Further Damage to Hardwoods

To remove any dirt and debris from your hardwood to prevent further damage, you should make sure your floors stay clean. Sweeping with a soft-bristled broom, vacuuming hard-to-reach areas, and mopping with hardwood floor cleaner will greatly help you maintain the pristine state of your hardwood floors. Doing a deep clean regularly can help prolong the life and shine of your floors.

According to a local hardwood floor professional, keeping your hardwood floors clean is the best way to prolong their life and keep them looking new and shiny.

How to bring old hardwood floors back to life

Applying a New Finish Without Sanding:

If your hardwood floors need something to bring back shine and life, but you do not want to go through the work or the cost of completely renewing them, you can apply new finish to your hardwood floors without sanding them first. This fix is not permanent or as effective as the complete renewal, but it is a good alternative if your floors do not need a complete redo, just something to bring some color and shine back.

View the chart below to see some products we recommend to help you bring some life back to your hardwood flooring.

Rust-Oleum Transformations Wood and Laminate Floor Renewal KitThis kit is completely equipped with everything you would need to give your hardwood floor a semi-glossy and fresh polyurethane finish. It will take 24 hours to dry once it has been applied and about 2 weeks to cure.
*This is not compatible with waxed wood flooring.
Click here to view product on Amazon.
Minwax Hardwood Floor ReviverThis product has been designed to restore the polyurethane finish on your hardwood floor. There are options for low and high gloss to meet your needs. Click here to view product on Amazon.
Rejuvenate Wood Floor RestorerThis easy mop-on application will restore your previously sealed hardwood floors without sanding first. You can choose between satin or glossy finishes.Click here to view product on Amazon.

How To Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

After you have been cleaning, caring for, and reviving your hardwood floors for years, you will need to refinish them to restore their previous shine. Refinishing your own hardwood floors can save you a lot of money and it is a new learning experience. Below is a step by step on how to refinish your hardwood floors on your own.

Hardwood Floor Preparation:

Before beginning any project, there is often some preparation to complete before you get into the action. Refer to the list below to ensure you have properly prepared.

  1. You should begin by moving any furniture or rugs off of the hardwood floor.
  2. Check for any protruding nails by running a knife across the top of the floor. If there are any, hammer them down.
  3. Walk across the hardwood floor with the intention to find squeaks. Hammer down those loose floorboards with finishing nails to secure.
  4. Thoroughly clean your flooring to remove any dirt or debris. Sweeping and vacuuming should suffice.
  5. Seal any air vents in the room to prevent dust from escaping and landing on your hardwood floor.
  6. Wear a mask to protect your lungs from any dust entering.

Remove Shoe Base Molding:

Carefully remove the shoe base molding (aka toe molding) found along the edge of the baseboards. This is where the floor meets the wall. Keep track of where you pulled it from so you can put it back afterward.

Rough Sand The Flooring:

How to bring old hardwood floors back to life

Using a drum or belt sander, sand your hardwood floors with rough-grained sandpaper. This will remove the old finish and stain and will buff out larger scratches on the floor. Make sure that you get the corners and the edges of your flooring.

Fine Sand The Flooring:

Sand the floor with a fine sand paper to even out the floor and remove small scratches.

Remove Dust:

Thoroughly sweep and vacuum to remove and dust or debris from the floor.

Apply The Stain:

Apply the stain in even, thin strokes following the direction of the wood. Work in small areas at a time. This will help to create an evenly applied color throughout the entire flooring. Apply more layers if necessary to reach the intended color.

Apply The Finish:

Apply the finish after the stain has completely dried. Your finish will determine how your hardwood floors look. Choose the correct gloss level for your intended outcome of this refinish.

Dean Luoma

As a long-time homeowner, Dean has been working on his own home projects for over 30 years. He is a licensed real estate agent in the state of Minnesota, helping clients with the buying and selling of their homes.

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