How Long Does It Take to Finish Hardwood Floors?

With the average cost of recovery for hardwood floor refinishing standing at 100%, this project offers one of the best returns on investment for homeowners. Expectations can be everything when planning to sand and refinish hardwood floors. Getting a solid timeline in place allows you to plan around this slightly disruptive project. The biggest thing to know is that getting your floor refinished by competent, reputable professionals is the surest way to get the project done on time. Trying to tackle a do-it-yourself (DIY) floor redo could require you to block off more than just a weekend on your calendar.

The Difference Between Professional and DIY Floor Refinishing Jobs

Planning to have your floor sanded and refinished by professionals versus planning to tackle the job on your own will be very different. Generally, you’re looking at two days to finish 500 square feet worth of flooring. It takes an average of three days when covering 500 feet to 1,000 feet. If you’re sanding and refinishing more than 1,000 square feet, expect the job to take between four and five days. The picture looks different when you’re sanding and refinishing your floors on your own.

Someone who doesn’t have any DIY experience with sanding and refinishing floors can expect the project to take two to three times longer. That means a minimum of four days for a 500-square-foot room. It’s not uncommon for a “weekend” project to turn into a 15-day project.

Why Does Sanding and Refinishing a Floor Take Such a Long Time?

Refinishing your flooring is a process. It actually involves several different steps with “downtimes” that extend your timeline beyond the time involved with preparation and labor. Here’s a look at what’s involved:

  • Clearing the room.
  • Closing off entries to the rest of the home to prevent “dust spread.”
  • Sanding/Screening.
  • Cleaning dust.
  • Staining with polyurethane.
  • Allowing time for polyurethane to dry between coats.

Generally, you should avoid walking on floors for 24 to 48 hours after the job is complete. It’s also wise to wait to move rugs and furniture back into the space. If possible, wait a full five days before moving furniture into a room with freshly refinished floors. Give your floor 30 days to settle before putting rugs down again.

Floor Fact: The Type of Polyurethane Used Impacts the Time Needed to Refinish Floors

Completion time for floor refinishing actually varies based on the type of polyurethane used to finish your floors. Oil-based polyurethane generally takes longer to dry than water-based polyurethane. The longer dry time ultimately makes the process of getting your floor refinished take longer because bigger “breaks” are needed between coats. Generally, the rule for oil-based polyurethane is one day for each coat. The rule with water-based polyurethane is one day for every two coats. Both products can take longer to dry in humid weather conditions.

While oil-based polyurethane takes longer to dry, it’s the preferred choice of many homeowners. First, oil-based polyurethane is actually less expensive than water-based polyurethane. It also lasts much longer. Ultimately, this is a case of putting in some extra time now to be able to enjoy long-term savings.

Common Question: What Factors Influence Turnaround Times for Sanding and Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

Estimates are called estimates for a reason. There are many factors that can cause floor projects to take longer. In some cases, you’ll know that your project will take longer right from the start because you know the history of your floors. However, homeowners sometimes don’t know about the “secrets” contained within their floors when they inherit them after purchasing homes. Take a look at some factors that can slow down refinishing times.

Cleaning History

Have products like Murphy’s Oil Soap touched your hardwood floors? Unfortunately, this commonly used product is one of the biggest bottlenecks for refinishing projects. Products like Murphy’s Oil Soap “gum up” during the sanding process. This can significantly slow things down.

Past Coats of Polyurethane

If your floor contains coats of polyurethane that were applied in the past, those coats can slow down your sanding project. Even coats that were applied many years ago will still have a big impact. It can be hard to know just how many coats have been applied in a home that had previous owners.

Repair Work

Board repairs, patches and old carpet staples can all bog down a refinishing project. The good news is that things should move along just fine in all of the other areas that don’t contain “blemishes.” One of the areas where big slowdowns are common is the staircase. Many homeowners have staple marks in their steps dating back to a time when stapling carpet runners to staircases was popular. Going over these areas will require a great deal of detail.

Moisture Damage

Moisture damage is truly the gift that keeps on giving with wood floors. Anticipate longer sanding times if your floor has suffered moisture damage at any point. If your floor suffers from cupping or rippling, the sanding process becomes much more complex. Cupped and rippled floors must be sanded at an angle of 45 degrees to flatten the area before regular sanding techniques can be used to bring the area in alignment with the rest of the flooring in the room.

General Damage

Any form of damage can lengthen the time it takes to refinish your hardwood floors. While some damage may appear to be minor, the reality is that damaged areas need extra time and attention to prevent a non-uniform look once the final finish is applied. Here are some common reasons why floor refinishing takes longer than expected:

  • Dents from heavy items being dropped on the floor.
  • Indentations from shoe heels.
  • UV damage that has lightened or darkened a floor.
  • Graying” areas caused by a worn finish.

The reason why damaged areas take so long to sand is that most damage penetrates deep into the wood. While UV damage or graying may appear to only impact the surface, the truth is that these issues often extend several layers down. Deeper sanding is often needed to “extract” the damage. Taking time at the start of the project to correct these issues can produce beautiful results without obvious blemishes. Rushing through because you assume that “surface damage” will be covered up by a new finish will cause imperfections to remain obvious.

Does the Type of Wood Used for Your Floor Impact How Long Sanding and Refinishing Will Take?

Yes! Wood type can actually impact project timelines when sanding and refinishing floors. Oak flooring generally allows for the fastest refinishing projects because it’s considered easy to sand. Maple and cherry are both considered relatively easy to sand. If your floor is made from pine, be prepared for longer sanding times. Hard specialty woods take the longest. Expect sanding to take the longest for floors made from jarrah, hickory and some types of mahogany.

How Long Will It Take to Sand and Refinish My Floors? Start With an Estimate!

Many homeowners are floored by the time commitment needed to attempt floor refinishing on their own once they start the process of sanding. It’s impossible to guess how long your floor refinishing will take if you’ve never finished floors on your own before. Get an estimate based on the square footage, condition of your floors and wood type to get a true idea of what your coming project entails. Doing flooring the right way is always worth it because beautiful wood floors add value to your home like almost nothing else can!

Contact Atlas Floors

At Atlas Floors, we pride ourselves on our commitment to customer satisfaction and our expertise in hardwood floor finishing. Our team is always ready to assist you, whether you’re considering a new installation or need advice on maintaining your existing floors. We understand the nuances of different types of hardwood and can provide comprehensive services to ensure your flooring project is completed to the highest standards. From the initial consultation to the final inspection, we ensure that every detail is attended to with the utmost care and professionalism. Our dedicated professionals are here to guide you through every step of the process, ensuring your hardwood floors are beautifully finished and stand the test of time. Contact us at Atlas Floors, and let us bring the beauty and durability of expertly finished hardwood floors into your home or business.

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