How Many Times Can You Sand a Hardwood Floor?

by Charlie
How Many Times Can You Sand a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are beautiful and hard-wearing, but they will need refinishing at times, even if they have been sealed and are well cared for. If your hardwood floor gets damaged by a flood, scuffed up by overuse or improper cleaning, or otherwise spoiled, sanding it is the first step in restoring it.

However, wood won’t last indefinitely, and sanding removes a surprising amount of wood in many cases. That means you can’t sand your floor over and over again, every time something goes wrong. Eventually, you’ll have to replace the wood instead, and that can be extremely costly. You might be wondering how many times you can sand it before that happens.

How many times can you sand a hardwood floor? This can vary depending on how heavily you sand the floor, but some hardwood floors will withstand up to 5 sanding sessions, and some will do even more. Engineered wood can usually only be sanded 2 or 3 times before it will need replacing. If you sand the floor heavily, it won’t withstand as many sanding sessions.

How Many Times Can a Hardwood Floor Be Sanded?

Most hardwood floors can be sanded around 5 times, although the thickness of the floor and the ferocity of the sanding will have a big impact on this number. Some floors can only withstand being sanded a few times, while others will withstand being sanded up to 10 times.

When you’re sanding a hardwood floor, you will almost always be trying to fix a problem, such as a stain, water damage, roughness, marks, etc. How deep this problem goes will determine how deeply you will have to sand the floor. If you need to take a lot of wood off to remove a stain, you’ll reduce how many times the floor can be sanded in the future.

The number of times a floor can be sanded is determined by the thickness of the wood and the depth of the tongue (if you’re sanding tongue-and-groove flooring). Some depth must remain between the tongue and the top of the board, so if your floor has thick boards, you can sand it more times than a floor with thin boards.

If you sand a floor too close to the tongues and grooves, there is a risk that the wood will start splitting, and you may see gaps appearing between the boards. Always check how much depth remains before you start sanding to avoid problems.

How Do You Tell How Thick Your Floor Is?

Your floor’s thickness will determine how much you can sand it, but it can be challenging to check this without prying the floor up. Sometimes, you’ll be able to check from one side of the floor, or pull out a floor vent. Alternatively, remove one of your baseboards and check along this edge.

Once you’ve got access to the edge of your floor, find the floor’s tongue, and look at how much depth is left between the top of the board and the tongue. This is how much you can sand. If you have less than a few millimeters, you probably cannot sand the floor without risking damaging it.

If your floor has gaps between the boards, you can easily measure its thickness using any business card, gift card, or old credit card. Simply insert the card into the gap until you feel resistance, and then mark the card with a pencil. This will tell you how deep the board is before you reach the tongue.

Do Different Kinds of Woods Sand Differently?

Some kinds of hardwood are much tougher than others, and will withstand a greater degree of sanding. If you’ve got a hardwood floor made of oak or birch, it will be much tougher than a hardwood floor made of cherry. The harder your floor is, the more sanding it will tolerate, because less wood will wear away on each stroke.

If you don’t know what sort of floor you have, get an opinion from an expert, so you know what kind of wood you are dealing with before you begin working on it.

What is a Wear Layer?

Some floors come with an advertised “wear layer,” and this will help you to estimate how many times you can sand that floor. If you’ve got a wear layer of 6 mm, you may be able to sand the floor about 5 times, while a 2 mm wear layer can probably only be sanded once or twice.

Of course, these numbers are estimates and will depend very much on how heavily you sand the floor each time. If you remove more than 1 mm of wood when you sand the floor, there’s a high chance that you will go through the wear level quickly.

Not all floors have an advertised wear level, but you can get a general idea of it by checking your floor’s depth using the methods mentioned above.

If you are going to hire a company to sand your floor, make sure you choose one with a good reputation, or there’s a risk that they will damage the floor.

If they take too much off at once, you will lose the ability to sand the floor again in the future (or will be able to sand it fewer times), which will mean replacing it long before it would otherwise be necessary.

It’s best to take off as little wood as possible each time you sand the floor to ensure that it can be sanded and refinished many times before it has to be replaced. Since replacing costs a lot more than sanding and refinishing, this is always going to be preferable.

If you are going to sand the floor yourself, do some careful research before you start.

Final Thoughts

How many times you can sand a hardwood floor depends on both the thickness and the hardness of the wood, and on how heavily you need to sand it to remove the marks. Some floors can be sanded and refinished as many as 10 times, but most will be fewer, and will only last for around 5 rounds, or even less.

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