Sanding Hardwood Floors: How Often to Sand Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

sanding hardwood floor

All floors require some kind of regular and occasional cleaning and maintenance. For wooden floors occasional maintenance is sanding which is often called pre-finishing. Sanding your hardwood floor will enhance the beauty of your residential or commercial property by restoring its original look.

What is Sanding?

Sanding involves removing the top surface of a hardwood floor using abrasive sanding materials. After sanding you should coat the hardwood floor with a sealant. 

How Often Should You Sand Your Hardwood Floor?

As a general guideline, if your hardwood floor is thick, there are no restrictions as to how often you can sand it. Whereas frequent sanding gives your floor a brand new look, a non-sanded floor has age and character. However, it is essential to realize that the process of sanding a hardwood floor takes time. Consequently, it is a labor-intensive and costly process. The costs are almost equivalent to the costs of installing a new floor. As such, you will not want to do it very often. Besides, the process of sanding causes the wood to wear off. Therefore, if you keep refinishing your floor the top layer will wear out quickly and the lifespan of your hardwood floor will be cut short. Generally you should do sanding after 10, 15 or 20 years from the time of installation. After that, you can sand it after every 10 years.

The total number of times you can sand your hardwood floor in its lifetime depends on how thick the solid or top layer of the engineered flooring is. For a ¾ inch solid hardwood flooring, you can only sand about ¼ inch of it which means that you can sand the floor about 6 to 10 times in its lifetime. 

Factors That Affect How Often to Sand a Hardwood Floor

The factors listed below can guide you on how often to sand your hardwood floor.

1. Manufacturer’s Recommendations

Unless you have extreme conditions that are out of the usual, you can follow your manufacturer’s sanding recommendations. In fact, some manufacturers recommend oiling immediately after installation which requires sanding. Sanding before pre-finishing makes the oil seep into the wood well.

2. Engineered Or Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is a single plank while engineered has two pieces of wood. The top piece of an engineered floor is usually thin and it is the hardwood while its base is plywood. You can sand solid hardwood floors multiple times until the plank of wood becomes too thin for pre-finishing. Because of the characteristic of hardwood floors of having a thick sandable plank, it is also more durable than engineered hardwood floors.

Engineered wood sanding depends on how thick the top layer is. The sanding of standard engineered wood is two or three times in its lifetime. You should never sand engineered woods with a very thin top layer even once. While engineered wood with a thick top layer of at least 5mm is safe for sanding as often as a solid hardwood flooring.

3. The Thickness of The Hardwood Plank

Hardwood floors come in a variety of widths. You should sand it if the plank is thick enough for sanding.  Therefore, the thicker the plank of wood, the more times you can sand it in its lifespan. 

4. The intensity of Wear and Tear On The Floor

A hardwood floor in a high traffic area may need more frequent sanding than a similar floor in a low traffic area. Wood floors placed in high traffic areas experience more wear and tear in comparison to low traffic area floors. In addition to that, scratches from pets and children cause the floor to wear off quickly requiring often sanding. Sometimes you can just buffer the floor and apply a coat of finish.

5. How Hard is the Floor on the Janka Hardness Hardwood Scale

Engineered and solid floors are manufactured from different varieties of species. Some of the species are red oak wood, white oak, ash, walnut, cherry to mention but some. Using the Janka hardness Hardwood scale, tough woods are more resilient than softwoods. If your hardwood floor is softer than a red oak wood which is the industry benchmark, then it may have more dents and scratches in a short period of time. Soft floors should be sanded more often than tough hardwoods that are harder than red oak. 

What if You are Not Ready to Refinish Your Floor?

If you floor has scratches and dents then it will require sanding to restore its look. But did you know that accumulated dirt can dull your floor? If your floor has no major scratches or dents and it is only dull, then you do not need to sand it. You can renew the floor to give it a new look through cleaning. First sweep and then vacuum clean the floor thoroughly. Lastly, use a hardwood floor cleaner to clean it. The process should remove embedded dirt on the floor. Afterward, apply finishing to rejuvenate your hardwood floor.

The cost of Sanding and Refinishing Hardwood Floors 

Average costs vary depending on your state, but it ranges between $3 and $4.50 per square foot.

How to Sand and Refinish Hardwood Floors

Sanding should remove only the surface finish, that is why you need an expert to do it. If you are a DIY, then you should be careful about what sanding sequence to use. The sand grit you choose should depend on the hardwood species, how old is the wood, the type of finish on the wood and whether the floor has paint or stain.

The age of the floor determines what kind of sanding materials to use. While machine sanding should be done to floors that have never been sanded before. Hand sanding is usually recommended for old floors.

Preparations Before Sanding

Before sanding your floor, you should move everything from the room because the sanding will produce dust. Secondly, you should relocate from your home or from that particular room for at least four days after sanding. Alternatively, you can do room by room and lock up just one room for the four days until the whole house sanded. After sanding, you will re-apply a new coat that will work as a sealant.


The major advantage of installing a hardwood floor is its durability and ability to renew its look using sanding. Therefore, spruce up the appearance of your hardwood floor by sanding.

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