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Wood Flooring Sanding Guide: Benefits, Why, Process, Cost, and More

Wood flooring sanding benefits process cost guide

Wood flooring sanding, also referred to as wood floor refinishing, is the multi-step process of smoothing and preparing the surface of existing wood flooring in order to renew its appearance.

When old floors become faded, scratched, or discoloured over years of use, wood flooring sanding offers a way to restore them to their former glory.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about revitalising tired hardwood floors through proper sanding techniques.

We’ll discuss the range of benefits sanding provides, from removing minor imperfections and addressing heavy wear to enhancing natural wood grain. 

We’ll also provide typical costs for professional UK-based services, look at whether DIY or hired help is advisable, and explore alternatives beyond sanding that can also fix damaged wood floors.

What is Wood Flooring Sanding?

Wood floor sanding is the process of removing the top layer of a wood floor to smooth out imperfections and prepare it for refinishing. This can breathe new life into old, worn floors or prepare a new floor for its initial finish.

What are the Benefits Of Wood Flooring Refinishing?

Wood floor refinishing restores the beauty of your wood floors and extends their lifespan.

It does so by breathing new life into dull, worn floors by removing scratches, gouges, stains, and other damage to reveal the natural beauty of the wood underneath. 

Why Would You Want Wood Flooring Sanding?

There are many benefits to properly sanding your wood floors. We've highlighted some of them below.

Remove Imperfections

Proper sanding can eliminate minor imperfections, marks, stains, scratches and other flaws from the surface of wood flooring, revealing a fresh, pristine top layer. This allows for a more uniform and aesthetically pleasing end result.

Smooth the Surface

Sanding creates an even base layer essential for properly refinishing the wood flooring surface. It does so by smoothing ridges, uneven spots, or variations in height in the wood, creating the flat, uniform surface needed to allow new stains and finishes to be properly applied.

Address Wear and Tear

Over time, wood floors endure noticeable wear and tear in high-traffic areas. Sanding removes evidence of this damage — including clouded finishes, cracks, and delamination — bringing the flooring close to its original appearance.

Prepare for Refinishing

Sanding prepares the porous wood surface for acceptance and bonding with new stains and sealant or finish coats during the refinishing process. This allows for maximum adherence and more durable, longer-lasting results.

Enhance Aesthetics

Sanding enhances wood's inherent natural beauty by removing old finishes and showcasing the grain pattern's depth, dimension and character. This adds warmth and visual appeal.

Renew the Appearance

Sanding renews and restores the appearance of dull, clouded or scratched wood floors. It revitalises the look and feel of the wood, once again bringing out its natural warmth, timeless appeal and original beauty.

What is The Process of Wood Flooring Sanding?

Wood floor sanding, also known as wood floor refinishing, is a multi-step process to smooth and resurface wood floors. The main steps include:

1. Preparation: Moving furniture and removing baseboards and transitions.

2. Sanding with Coarse Grit: Aggressively sand with coarse 30-40 grit to remove the old finish and flatten the surface.

3. Sanding with Finer Grits: Progressively sand with 50, 80 and 120 grit to smooth and prepare the wood.

4. Edging: Sand the floor edges and hard-to-reach areas by hand.

5. Vacuuming: Thoroughly remove all dust between sanding stages.

6. Tack Cloth: Use a sticky cloth to pick up any remaining fine dust.

7. Staining (Optional): Apply a stain if desired for a richer color.

8. Sealing/Finishing: Roll on sealant and finish coats like polyurethane.

9. Drying: Let the sealer and finish fully dry between coats.

10. Curing: Allow the finish to fully cure and harden per manufacturer instructions

11. Final touches: Re-install the baseboards and transitions and replace your furniture.

12. Cleanup: Clean the work area and properly dispose of debris.

What is the Cost of Wood Flooring Sanding?

The typical cost to sand existing wood floors professionally in the UK ranges from £1.50 to £4 per square foot (without labour). The final price depends on several factors.

The size of the floor is the main price factor, with larger areas costing less per square foot. For a single room, expect around £4 per sq ft, while sanding a whole house can reduce the cost to £1.50 to £2 per foot.

Floor condition also significantly affects pricing. Floors with heavy wear, stains or damage demand extensive labour to sand out flaws, increasing costs substantially. Well-maintained floors can be sanded efficiently at much lower rates.

Geographic location also plays a large pricing role due to differences in labour and material costs across regions. Wood floor sanding will be pricier in areas like London or Oxfordshire versus rural areas.

Extra finishing services like staining or applying multiple layers of protective sealants increase labour time and product costs over basic sanding with a clear coat. This scales up the total project quote.

The type of wood flooring allows some variation. Softer woods generally sand quickly for lower prices, while exotic hardwoods and engineered planks require extra care and time, increasing rates.

Wood flooring sanding benefits process cost guide

Should You DIY or Ask for Professional Help?

You should ask for professional help when refinishing wood floors rather than taking a DIY approach.

While DIY sanding may seem like a money-saving option, the risks often outweigh the benefits when handled by an inexperienced person.

Skill & experienceRequires learning and potential for mistakesExpertise and efficient completion
Equipment rental/costRent or buy a sander, potentially costing more in the long runUse of specialised equipment already owned
Time commitmentA time-consuming process, especially for large or complex projectsQuicker completion due to experience and efficiency
Quality of resultsRisk of uneven sanding or accidental damageConsistent, high-quality finish guaranteed
Safety risksDust exposure and potential for misuse of equipmentProfessionals prioritise safety with dust control and proper techniques

Are There Other Options to Fix Old or Worn Wood Flooring?

Yes, there are other options besides sanding to fix old or worn wood flooring. The best solution depends on the condition of existing floors, budget, and desired outcome. Alternatives to sanding include:

Sanding vs Reseal

Resealing applies a fresh protective coat without removing wood layers, taking less time and cost than sanding, but doesn't address the damage.

Sanding vs Refurbish

Refurbishing repairs some imperfections and updates the finish, retaining more existing wood than sanding but not fully restoring it to its original state.

Sanding vs Restore

Restoration may incorporate limited sanding with wood repairs and recoating to revitalise wood to near original glory at a moderate cost.

Sanding vs Buying New Flooring

Installing new engineered wood or laminate flooring avoids refinishing existing floors. However, buying new wood flooring costs £3-£10 per square foot for materials and labor. Popular alternatives include vinyl plank, luxury vinyl tile or reclaimed wood.

The condition of the current flooring guides which option makes the most sense. Lightly worn floors may benefit from simple resealing or refurbishing.

Heavily damaged floors can warrant full sanding and refinishing or replacement with new flooring altogether. An expert can best evaluate the state of existing floors.


Wood floors are a classic flooring choice that can last for decades when properly maintained. However, over time, it's common for scratches, cloudiness, discoloration and other imperfections to accumulate, detracting from your home’s beauty.

Rather than living with worn floors or hastily ripping them out for replacement, wood floor sanding offers a restorative facelift. This process can eliminate years of damage to reveal the handsome wood hiding underneath for a fraction of the replacement cost.

If your floors are looking tired but the foundation remains sturdy, contact The Ultimate Flooring at +44 (0) 20 8948 5611 or through our email system at

With over 25 years of refinishing experience and specialised equipment, we can efficiently restore the original glory of your wood floors.