How to Refinish a Hardwood Floor With Water Damage

Water damage on a hardwood floor won't always affect the structural integrity of the floor, but it will ruin the shiny finish and discolor the wood underneath, generally darkening it in the pattern of the water. If the floor boards are rotting, coming up or otherwise physically damaged, you will need to do some serious floor repair and should consider hiring a professional. However, if the damage is just to the finish of the floor, and the boards are in decent shape, you can refinish.

Refinish a Hardwood Floor With Water Damage
  1. Make sure there are no nail heads or other obstructions sticking up from the floor before you begin sanding. Load floor sander with heavy-grade sandpaper. Begin sanding in a far corner of the room, working your way out. Move the sander in long, slow strokes with the grain of the wood, until the glossy shine is gone from the floor.

  2. Sweep the floor thoroughly to remove residual dust. Reload sander with the medium-grade sandpaper and go over the floor again. This time, you're working to take off the top layer of the wood to get past the discolored layer at the damaged area. Sand until you're just down to bare wood, and the damaged and undamaged areas look the same.

  3. Sweep and clean the floor thoroughly. Put on your rubber gloves. Shake and open can of stain. Working in areas of a few square feet, generously brush the stain onto the floor. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess stain with a paper towel. Continue until the whole floor has been stained. Let it dry overnight.

  4. Open can of polyurethane gloss and gently stir. Starting in the far corner of the room, gently brush the gloss onto the floor in slow strokes, following the grain of the wood. If bubbles form, slowly work them out with the brush. Continue until the entire floor is covered. Let it dry overnight.

  5. Buff the surface of the floor gently by hand, using the fine-grade sandpaper . Buff just enough to dull the shine of the gloss. This allows the second coat of gloss to stick. Thoroughly clean the dust from the floor. Apply the second coat of gloss in the same manner as the first. Let dry overnight and apply a third coat of gloss, if desired.


  • Make sure the room is well-ventilated before using stains and glosses. Floor sanders with circular, rotating pads can severely damage your floor if you don't know how to use them, so make sure your rented sander is the rectangular vibrating style.