On the surface, hardwood floor refinishing is basically a three-step process. First, you must examine the floor for raised nails, carpet tacks, and the like (taking care to nail flush or remove these as you go along) and sand the old finish off of the floor. Next, after you clean up all the dust created by sanding, it’s on to staining. Sometimes, the staining step is skipped to leave the floor with a “natural” look. Finally, you move on to sealing and finishing the floor with polyurethane.

When broken down into these three simple steps, refinishing hardwood floors sounds like a snap. Be careful, though, as each of these steps involves a lot of mess, effort, and–if you want professional results–a professional attention to detail. Sanding the finish from your old floor can take a very long time; though you can probably rent a drum sander (like the pros at Urban Design Floors use) from a home improvement center, even a few seconds of inattention can cause damage to your floor that will be very difficult to fix. Staining and applying finish might sound easy at first, but creating an even surface can be difficult even for those with some experience in the process.

Weighing Your Refinishing Options

The bottom line is, die hard DIYs might be able to get moderately good results refinishing their own hardwood floors, but these will not come easily, and there is very little margin for error if you want floors you’ll be proud to show off. Make sure to take the time to compare what you’ll save doing the job yourself against how much hiring a UDF professional crew will run. Weigh the difference in cost to the amount you’d be willing to pay to guarantee a beautiful, efficient, and worry-free refinishing job. If it still makes sense to do the work yourself, make sure to do all the research you can before you begin. It might also be a good idea to begin in an area that is a little out of the way until your technique becomes up to your standards.

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