How to Refinish Hardwood Floors With Polyurethane

Over time the polyurethane finish on a hardwood floor can become worn and scratched.

You can make your hardwood floor look new again.You can make your hardwood floor look new again.
Fortunately, this does not mean that the whole floor has to be stripped. Instead, you can make the hardwood floor look new again by sanding it and applying a new coat of polyurethane. It only takes a time and patience to complete the steps required to refinish a hardwood floor, and in the end the results will be well worth the effort.

Attach a sheet of 120-grit sandpaper to the drywall-sanding pole pad. Set the pad on the floor and use the pole to push it across the hardwood floor, sanding only in the direction of the grain. Apply enough pressure to sand through the top layer of polyurethane, but not so much that you sand through to the stain. Sanding will create a white powder on the surface of the floor.

Clean the floor with a shop vacuum, then use the tack cloth to wipe down the entire floor. Next, moisten a rag with paint thinner and wipe down the floor again. All sanding dust must be removed from the hardwood floor or it will leave a gritty feel to the final finish, and it will show.

Thoroughly stir a 1-gallon bucket of polyurethane before applying it; some of the sealing properties are settled at the bottom of the bucket.

Place the lamb's wool applicator on the applicator block, then insert the paint pole into the block.

Fill the paint tray with polyurethane, then dip the lamb's wool applicator into the polyurethane. Lift up the applicator and allow the excess polyurethane to drip into the paint tray.

Begin applying the polyurethane at the side of the room furthest away from the entrance. Use the paintbrush to cut in a 3-foot section along the baseboard. Brush out from the baseboard onto the floor approximately 4 inches.

Attach the lamb's wool pad to the applicator block, then insert the paint pole into the block. Dip the pad into the polyurethane and allow the excess to drip into the tray.

Set the applicator to the floor approximately 3 feet from where you cut in at the wall, then push the applicator away from yourself and towards the wall. Overlap the area that you cut in with a brush and lift the applicator up---do not pull it back. Pulling the applicator back will create thin spots in the polyurethane.

Continue working across the room in 3-foot sections. Allow the hardwood floor to dry overnight, then apply a second coat to achieve the best protection.

Things You Will Need

  • Drywall sanding pole
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Shop vacuum
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint thinner
  • Rags
  • Paint tray
  • Lambs wools polyurethane applicator
  • Polyurethane applicator block
  • Paint pole
  • 3-inch paint brush for stain and varnishes


  • You can use a buffer with a sanding screen on it, but make sure that you fully understand how to use it. A buffer requires only the use of gentle hand pressure to guide it across the floor. Attempting to force a buffer to turn or applying heavy hand pressure will send you flying into a wall.

About the Author

Based in Oklahoma City, Debbie Tolle has been working in the home-improvement industry since 2001 and writing since 1998. Tolle holds a Master of Science in psychology from Eastern Illinois University and is also a Cisco-certified network associate (CCNA) and a Microsoft-certified systems engineer (MCSE).