How Long Does It Take to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

by Charlie
How Long Does It Take to Refinish Hardwood Floors

If you have a beautiful hardwood floor in your home but it’s seen better days, you might be wondering how big a project you’re taking on to get it refinished and looking beautiful again. Hardwood floors can be stunning additions to any home, but when they are worn out, refinishing is crucial.

However, it’s always important to assess a DIY project before you start, so you know how long it’s likely to take and whether you have this amount of time to commit to it. You don’t want to begin a big project like refinishing a hardwood floor without at least assessing the space and time investment needed.

How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors? How long it takes to refinish a hardwood floor will depend on the size of the floor, but you should estimate at least 3 days, even for a reasonably small job. The varnish will need time to dry, and you will also have to allow time for cleaning, filling, sanding, and more. Often, the varnish drying is the most time-consuming part of the project.

Does It Take Long to Refinish a Hardwood Floor?

It will take a minimum of 3 days to do most hardwood floor refinish projects. If you are doing a large space or the floor needs a lot of work before you start varnishing, make sure you allow plenty more time. It’s better to overestimate the size of the project than to underestimate it.

Let’s look at the process for refinishing a hardwood floor so you get a better idea of the steps involved and you can assess how long it might take.

To refinish a hardwood floor, you should start by thoroughly cleaning the full area, sweeping and vacuuming it to remove all dust and debris. Next, assess whether you need to fill or repair any areas, because this needs to be done before you start sanding the floor.

If necessary, fill the areas with an appropriate filler, and then allow the filler to completely dry before you start sanding. If any boards need replacing, this should be done at this point too. Once the floor is repaired and flat, you can start sanding.

Note that if you have parquet floors, you’ll need to sand in two different directions, which takes longer and is more complicated. If you don’t follow the grain of the parquet, you might ruin its appearance.

You will need to sand the whole floor before you can start varnishing. Moisture-damaged floors or floors that have wax or other coatings will take a lot longer to sand, because these products will gum up the sandpaper.

Make sure you leave enough time to thoroughly sand the floor. Once it’s all flat and smooth, and any marks have disappeared, wipe the floor down with a damp cloth and leave it to dry.

Finally, you can start applying the varnish to the floor. This will involve starting in the furthest corner of the room, and working from there toward the door. Make sure you are able to exit the room once you have finished varnishing. Each coat of varnish must be allowed to dry before you add the next one.

How Long Does Varnishing the Floor Take?

This depends heavily on whether you have used an oil-based polyurethane or a water-based one. Water-based polyurethanes generally dry faster. You need more coats, but even so, the project will probably be completed more quickly if you use a water-based polyurethane. Varnishing with an oil-based polyurethane will probably take about 4 days, while a water-based one might take 2 or 3 days.

Oil-based polyurethanes may take around 24 hours before they are dry enough to add a second coat. Some of the darker stains can take even longer than this, and this will massively extend the project, so it could take 5 or even 6 days if you are doing several coats. On the whole, you will need 2 or 3 coats of oil-based polyurethane.

Water-based polyurethanes tend to dry more quickly, so you may be able to do your floor in just a couple of days. If you only need to allow about 4 to 6 hours per coat, it’s possible to put multiple coats down per day, which really speeds things up. You will need more coats, but this still tends to be quicker overall.

That said, many people prefer the appearance of oil-based polyurethane, so don’t just prioritize speed over quality. Make sure you choose the one you think will work best for the room.

You must make sure that the polyurethane is dry before you add a second coat, or you risk an unattractive result. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on drying times, and bear in mind that if it’s damp or humid in the room, you should leave it for longer than suggested. It can be frustrating to be patient, but this is key to getting a good finish.

How Soon Can You Use a Refinished Room?

You can generally walk on your refinished hardwood floor after about 24 hours with no risk of leaving marks, provided you only wear socks. It is recommended that you don’t put furniture back in the room on oil-based polyurethane until around 4 days have passed, or even longer. If your polyurethane is water-based, you may only need to wait about 2 days.

It’s often tempting to rush projects like this because you want to get them finished and put the room back to normal, but you need to be patient to get a good result. That means waiting until the varnish is completely dry before adding a second coat, walking on it, and putting the furniture back. If the weather is damp, be even more patient about it.

Final Thoughts

Refinishing hardwood floors can be a surprisingly lengthy project, with most taking a minimum of 3 days, and probably more. Remember to account for other aspects of the project, like filling and sanding and cleaning, rather than just thinking about the varnishing and drying time. Bear in mind that you can’t use the room while you’re undertaking this project.

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