Sunlight, dents and foot traffic can all take their toll on a wood floor, causing it to appear worn and resulting in reduced stain color. But with a few key supplies, you can revive worn wood flooring without heavy-duty sanding. (See below for an instructional video on how to refinish a worn wood floor.)
How to Refinish Wood Floors
Start refurbishing your floor by finding a wood stain that matches the color of your existing floor. If you can’t find an exact match, choose a color that’s slightly darker. Experiment with the stain by rubbing it into a 1- or 2-square-foot area to see how it looks. The best wood stain I’ve found for this job, Minwax PolyShades, is actually a stain and sealer combination.
Stained floors need some kind of protective coating over the stain. The easiest coating to apply is oil-based urethane with a satin sheen, but — just as you did with the stain — you’ll have to experiment with the product before coating the entire floor. You don’t want to find out later that your urethane is incompatible with your stain, which would cause it to peel and pucker. Apply two coats of urethane over the 1- or 2-square-foot section of floor you stained, and then live with it for a week.
If both the wood stain and the coating are compatible with the wood, you can tackle the whole floor. Start by giving the wood a light sanding with 120- or 180-grit sandpaper in a 1/4-sheet finishing sander to roughen any remaining urethane slightly, then vacuum every last bit of dust and dirt off of the floor before rubbing in stain. Wearing rubber gloves, rub the stain everywhere, giving special attention to dented, scratched and worn areas. Let the stain dry for a day, and then apply two coats of the protective urethane (apply the second coat after the first coat dries). If all goes well, you’ll end up with a distressed but elegant floor that looks even better than a freshly sanded floor.