How to Refinish and Modernize Old Hardwood Flooring

Of all flooring trends over the years, hardwood flooring will never go out of style. Whenever you have it already installed and it is in decent condition, keep it! Because wood can be sanded and stained, it is easy to update as color trends change. When we remodeled our old house which was build in 1958, the oak hardwood floors were still in good shape. However, the orange color did not match the rest of the modernized house. So, we decided to refurbish what we had instead of buying new flooring.


Sanding is a very messy procedure. You will end up with dust everywhere. It is critical to remove all furniture. wall decor etc. and use plastic foil to isolate the room from the rest of the house and cover any ducts or hanging light fixtures. I did this project in January where it was cold, so I could leave the A/C off. In addition, I opened all windows and used a fan which was directed towards the outside, helping transporting any dust out of the room.

I also removed the base shoes prior to sanding. Once removed, I had to make sure that any nail heads were completely removed or nailed in. Otherwise, they will rip the sanding paper.

A respirator, glasses and hearing protection are absolutely needed to protect from the dust and noise.

Sanding the Hardwood Flooring

I rented a drum floor sander for a day from Home Depot which enabled me to relatively quickly sand about 450sqft. I started sanding with a 36-grit. I needed two belts for the 450sqft. The second and third sanding round I made with 60 and 80-grit to smooth out the surface.

sanding old hardwood flooring DIY
sanding old hardwood flooring DIY

The drum floor sander cannot reach the floor close to the baseboards or in the corners. That’s why you need to use a floor edging tool. Unfortunately it was already rented at Home Depot at the time of the project so I used my orbital sander instead. This took quite some time and the results were not perfect but good enough to proceed.

sanding old hardwood flooring DIY
sanding old hardwood flooring DIY

Staining the Hardwood Flooring

Before I proceeded with the staining I made sure all dust is removed by vacuuming and wiping the surfaces with a damp cloth. I actually loved the color of the sanded oak. However, when applying the clear semi-gloss oil-based polyurethane for floors (Rust-Oleum Parks PRO Finisher) to the unstained oak, it darkened the floor a little bit and made it appear too yellow. Thus, I used a combination of Varathane Antique White, Weathered gray and Ebony. I simply applied the stain with a small rack to random oak panels.

DIY hardwood flooring refinish
staining hardwood flooring DIY
modernizing old hardwood flooring

Material and Tools Used

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