How to Refinish Distressed Hardwood Floors

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By Bryan Peters

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If you want that rustic and antiqued look added to your home, then distressed hardwood floors are what you need.

While distressed hardwood floors are appreciated for their rustic beauty, sometimes these wood floors are prone to damage and need to be refinished as often as possible.

And that is precisely why we are interested in how to refinish distressed hardwood floors.

Distressed woods can be refinished with light sanding or re-sanding and re-scraping and then sealed with a sealant.

This article will provide you with a step-to-step guide on the easiest ways you can refinish distressed hardwood floors.

Supply List to Refinish Distressed Hardwood Floors

Before starting any project, you need to get all the materials needed for the work. 

You don’t want to stop work midway because you don’t have the needed materials. 

Below are some supplies you would need to refinish distressed hardwood floors.

  • Floor cleaner
  • Maroon pad
  • Industrial sandpaper
  • China-bristle vacuum
  • 6-inch China-bristle brush, painters pad, or other applicators
  • Plastic painters tray
  • Finish

How to Refinish Distressed Hardwood Floors

How to Refinish Distressed Hardwood Floors

Once you’ve gotten the needed materials, you can then get to work.

Follow the steps outlined below; they will serve as a guide:

Read Also: How To Clean Slick Spots On Hardwood Floors

Step 1: Clean the Area You Want to Refinish 

First, you need to make sure that the area you want to refinish is cleaned thoroughly.

You don’t want dirt and debris getting in the way of your work.

Start by vacuuming the floor thoroughly, then mopping it with an industry- or manufacturer-approved cleaning product. 

You can use a rag dipped in the diluted solution to remove any grime or scum buildup

Step 2: Abrade the Floor with a Maroon Pad

Now that the entire floor is cleaned, you can get on the next step, which is to abrade the floor. 

Most homeowners make the mistake of using a screen to abrade the floor. 

This should be avoided because the screen can leave a distinct scratch pattern, leading to more work and costly repairs. 

Instead, use a maroon pad or paper that is between 150 and 180 grit. 

If you are sealing the floor with a water-based finish, you should probably use a 180- to 220-grit pad or paper.

Now, getting to the real work, rub on your hands and knees to ensure that paper can cover your hand, then back it up with a maroon pad. 

You want to apply the proper pressure when abrading to prevent leaving a visible scratch pattern on your fingers after finishing. 

Also, you probably shouldn’t use no-clog papers. This is because they may contain stearate soap that, in rare cases, can cause finish-bonding-related issues.

Abrade with the grain of the wood, making sure you’re abrading thoroughly and changing your paper often. 

Read Also: How To Clean Scuff Marks On Hardwood Floors

Step 3: Vacuum

Once you are done abrading, it’s time to clean up the sandpaper dust and debris with a China-bristle vacuum attachment. 

Once you are done vacuuming, wipe the floor down with a damp microfiber mop or towel until the floor is spotless.

Step 4: Apply Finish

You are gradually coming to the end of your project. 

For your finishing, you can either opt for an oil-based or water-based finish. 

Use a brush to apply the finish in the direction of the grain. To make your work easier, divide the floor up into about 2-foot rows. 

Alternatively, you can use a painter’s pad and plastic painter’s tray to apply the finish instead of getting on your knees with a brush. 

Although note that painter’s tray shouldn’t be used for a water-based finish as the metal can adversely react with the finish chemicals

Step 5: Take Care of Missed Spots

Once you’re done applying the finish, you should inspect your work closely. If you notice any area or spot that is not adequately sealed, you should take care of them right away. 

Provided you follow the steps outlined here, once you’re done, the refinished floor should look as good as “new.”


While you might totally love the rustic and antiqued vibe distressed hardwood floors give your home, be prepared to refinish the floors every once in a while.

With the help of this post on how to refinish distressed hardwood floors, you know that a little abrading and sealing are the primary procedure in refinishing distressed hardwood floors.

Read Also: How To Seal Hardwood Floors Without Sanding