Refinishing Hardwood Floors : Timeframe

South Texas Flooring 713-660-9189 If you’ve purchased a home with wood floors and want to have the floors sanded and refinished, the ideal time to do so is during the interim period between the move-out of the seller and your scheduled move-in. But for homeowners who want to have wood floors refinished in the home that they are occupying, the question most often asked is, “How long will it take?”

For most houses, the answer is 3-4 days. But of course, as the homeowner, you really want to know more than just the timeframe. You also want to know how much the process will inconvenience you, and whether you will need to vacate the house. A simple explanation of the process involved in sanding and finishing a floor in an occupied house should help with your planning.

On day one, the first 2-4 hours will be spent moving furniture, removing the existing shoe molding, and applying plastic sheet-barriers to seal off the area being sanded from any rooms that will not be affected by the work. Some flooring contractors will handle the furniture moving, and other contractors may want to bring in a moving company to move the furniture, or even to take the furniture out of the house and temporarily store it off premises. The decision as to how to handle the furniture hinges mostly on two factors: first, the sheer volume of the furniture, but secondly, and really more importantly, on whether there is an area in the house (or possibly garage) where the furniture can be temporarily stored. In reality, about 90% of the time, the furniture remains on the premises.

Once the floor is cleared and the area sealed off, the sanding can begin, and generally will continue for the balance of the first day, and for part or the second day. After all sanding is completed, stain will be applied to the floor, usually late on day two. In most cases, the first of two coats of urethane can be applied over the stain on the same day. The urethane, however, will need overnight to dry, so after that first coat, the contractor can do no more work in the house until the next day.

On the third day, the contractor will first install new shoe molding throughout the work area. This process can take up to 3-4 hours, since the long pieces of molding have to be cut on-site to fit every wall, corner, nook, and cranny. After the shoe molding is installed, the floor will be lightly buffed with a steel wool type pad, and then the second and last coat of urethane will be applied. This last coat, of course, will also need overnight to dry, so the floor will need to stay clear of traffic until the next day, which will be day four. On the fourth day, the contractor or movers can place the furniture back. If it is possible and not too inconvenient for the homeowner, it is always a good idea to wait several more days before replacing the furniture, although the floor can accept foot traffic right away.

Of course, various factors can affect this sample timeline. A very dark stain may require overnight to dry before urethane can be applied, adding a day to the entire process. Wet, cold weather can prevent urethane from drying fast enough, and can possibly add a day to the job. And simply the sheer size of the area being sanded may require more time.

Lastly, will the house need to be vacated? This is simply a question of logistics. If the sleeping areas / kitchen etc are not being refinished, and if those unaffected areas are still accessible during the process, then the homeowner may very well be able to stay in the house. If not, then the house will need to be unoccupied for at least two nights.