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Is Refinishing Hardwood Floors a DIY Project?

hardwood floor for refinishing
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. All opinions are 100% mine. Nationwide provided me with information regarding its blog post.
Hardwood floor refinishing DIY project
I am a huge fan of hardwood floors.  In my previous home, they were the original 1905 heart of pine, and in my current home I have oak throughout.  Real hardwood floors add such warmth to the space. They are easy to clean, beautiful to look at and stand the test of time.  Plus, real hardwood floors, especially floors in good condition, have been proven to add value to your home.
1905 hardwood floors
Hardwood floors do tend to suffer from regular wear and tear, just like any other flooring surface, but unlike flooring like wall to wall carpet or tile, wood floors can be refinished multiple times and brought back to life!  Very few other flooring surfaces give you that option.
hardwood floor for refinishing
Refinishing floors can change the look of your floors not only by removing the scratches and dents, but when you refinish your floors you have the ability to change the color and finish.

If you are a fellow DIY’r you may be considering refinishing your hardwoods and are asking yourself “Is refinishing hardwood floors really a DIY project?”  Right before we moved in to our current house, we had our floors refinished and I did a lot of research about the process.  There are some important factors to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to DIY your floor refinishing project, and I thought I’d share them with you.

Pros and Cons of Refinishing Your Own Hardwood Floors


There are a few big advantages when tackling your floor refinishing project as a DIY project, they include: 
Cost:  DIY’ing your floors is much less expensive than having it done, mostly because you are mostly paying for labor.  The actual supplies (even if renting large tools) is only a small fraction of the expense.  The cost of hardwood floor refinishing can vary greatly, but the typical rate nationwide is between $3-5 per square foot.
Difficulty:  Refinishing floors isn’t actually difficult as long as you rent the correct equipment and study up on the process.  It isn’t a project that requires special skills. Nationwide has great info on their site about the The Art and Craft of Refinishing a Wood Floors.
Area:  Consider how large of an area you will be working on, a single room or an entire home? Make sure you take into account difficult areas that may require manual sanding (such as stairs or next to walls and cabinets.) If your job is on the smaller side, it may be much more manageable as a DIY project.
Playing with truck on hardwood floors


There are some things you need to keep in mind when making this a DIY project:
Time:  Floor refinishing is not a fast process if you want to do it right.  Cutting corners and rushing through it can lead to a less than perfect result.  It is also very likely that it will take you a lot longer than a professional to do the same job.
Work: The tools required to sand and refinish floors go beyond those used for most other DIY projects. Pushing around a drum sander that can weigh between 100-200 pounds isn’t for the faint of heart. Even though rental sanders may not be as large as professional grade models, that also means they aren’t as powerful and may require a lot more passes.  You will need to find the right balance between power and maneuverability, which may mean a small learning curve.
Mess: There is no doubt that refinishing your floors is a MESSY project.  There will be sawdust everywhere.  When you hire out the job, you can include clean up in the bid.  Professional refinishers may have dust recovery systems.  If you DIY the project, you will also have to consider the massive clean-up involved.
Lack of Experience:  Refinishing floors isn’t difficult, but you do have to get the hang of it.  There is a learning curve on the equipment and supplies. Professionals are more familiar with the large professional grade sanders and tools. Refinishing your floors the first time will be a lot more difficult than any subsequent refinishing jobs.  Once you have successfully refinished hardwoods, you will be more confident and the process will go faster.  However, the first time will take longer and have a learning curve.  
Gogeous hardwood floors
For our floor refinishing project, we decided to hire it out. This decision was best for our situation only and may not be right for you.  Our home had 2400 square feet of hardwood floors and we were also dealing with multiple rooms and a 12 foot flight of stairs.  We were under pressure to get it done quickly so we could move in and we had no previous experience refinishing.    Did it cost us thousands of dollars?  Yes.  But in our specific case it was worth it.  Next time we need the floors done I may do it myself (or at least try it in a room or two.)

Your decision on whether or not to attempt your own project really depends on the different factors of your situation.  Take the time to research the process and consider the pros and cons shared above in order to make the call.
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