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Can You Refinish Hardwood Floors One Room At A Time?

Hardwood flooring can take interior design to whole new levels of beauty.

Whether you own an 18-century cottage with feature walls, or a distinctly modern and spacious apartment, a quality wood paneling matched with a lovely rug is often preferable to carpet.

Hardwood flooring can also be a massive selling point when the time comes to move on to your next home.

Easy to maintain and visually appealing, it’s small wonder hardwood flooring is so popular, often fitted not just in one room, but throughout whole homes. PS. Learn about whether cherry flooring makes for good flooring... or not, here.

Can you refinish hardwood floors one room at a time

While someone might go through ten or twenty carpets in a lifetime, a single hardwood floor has the potential to last upward of thirty years, but only if it’s properly cared for.

Refinishing your hardwood floors once every seven to ten years will extend their life exponentially, not to mention that after every refinish, they’ll look new as the day they were fitted.

The only problem is that if you have a number of rooms with hardwood flooring, it’s difficult to know what approach you should be taking.

Should you be refinishing your floors one room at a time, or does it make more sense to refinish them simultaneously?

Can You redo Hardwood Floors One Room at a Time?

There are obvious reasons why refinishing your hardwood floors one at a time might seem like the easiest option.

Furniture management is easier, and you have more freedom of movement through the house while the process is taking place, but there are also a few complications to consider.

When refinishing one room at a time, it’s almost impossible to create uniformity from room to room, especially if you’re staining.

Some will suggest using a transition strip to create a definite barrier between the finish of one room and the next.

It’s not a bad idea, but the transition piece itself can be more jarring to the flow of the flooring than the slightly different finish it’s hiding.

It matters less if your hardwood rooms are in different areas of the house, as without the side-by-side comparison, nobody will notice the slight difference in finish.

Say if you have a hardwood floor in your living room and a single upstairs bedroom, the best course of action would be to refinish them individually.

For continuous hardwood flooring, the only way to ensure you achieve anything close to an even finish when attempting to take it one room at a time is to follow the stripping and staining instructions of your products to the tee.

Can You Partially Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Sometimes there are only a few boards that really look or feel like they need refinishing. In this instance, it may be tempting to save some money, time and effort, and attempt a localized refinish on these boards alone.

It’s a good idea in theory, but once again, there are some key factors to consider before you attempt anything.

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure all the other boards are well protected from the rejuvenating substances and sanding equipment you’re using on the damaged areas.

Sanding a singular board can be incredibly difficult to do. It’s easy to slip and accidentally sand a board you’re not intending to work on.

refinish hardwood floors

The best thing you can do is apply painter’s tape around the edges of the damaged boards and cover the area around them with at least a few sheets.

Secondly, try as you might to match the finish of the other boards, there will be a noticeable difference in shade.

Even if you use the original stain, the chances are you won’t be applying the same amount or in the same way.

Once you’re done, the damaged boards will look brand new, and suddenly, the boards you didn’t think needed refinishing are looking pretty tired and old. This is why most will advise you to refinish the whole room.

Can Your Polyurethane One Room at a Time?

Much like the refinish, it’s best to polyurethane your hardwood floors simultaneously. It ensures there is proper continuity between rooms.

That said, if you do choose to apply it room by room, the results don’t impede flow anywhere near as much as refinishing room by room.

When taking the task one room at a time, as long as it’s done skillfully and the connecting edges have been well feathered, the most you can expect is a very fine line in the threshold where the separate polyurethane varnishes meet.

It’s not perfect, but realistically, unless someone’s told about it, they’re not going to notice. The question is, would this small inconsistency irritate you?

The better the poly edges have been fluffed, the more insignificant the line in the threshold of the room will be.

What is fluffing? Fluffing is the process of tapering the thickness of the polyurethane as you approach the threshold of the room.

This way, when it comes to applying the polyurethane in the adjoining room, you can overlap into the threshold of the finished room, hiding the fact they’ve been varnished separately, while retaining the same thickness of coat as the rest of the rooms.

How Many Times can a Hardwood Floor Be Sanded and Refinished?

Generally speaking, you should be able to sand and refinish a hardwood floor around ten times, but depending on a few factors that figure can change dramatically.

If the original wood was particularly thin, you will only be able to sand it perhaps five to seven times before whatever has been used to fasten them in place is revealed.

At that point, it’s time to consider replacing rather than refinishing.

Another variable is how long the wood has been left in disrepair. Perhaps it’s never been sanded, but due to the severity of the damage, it requires heavier sanding, reducing that ten-refinish lifecycle to eight, six, or perhaps even less.

If the wood has been exposed to excessive amounts of moisture, it will rot through to the core, in which case, no amount of sanding can save it.

The skill of the craftsperson also has a huge impact on the number of times a hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished.

If they’re good at what they do, they’ll know exactly how much needs to be sanded to prolong the service life of the boards.

Although sanding seems like a fairly simple job, it’s easy to make mistakes, which is why it’s advisable to hire a professional.

Do Wood Floors Have to match Room to Room?

Whether your wooden floors match from room to room is entirely up to you.

Many people prefer the uniformity of singular wood throughout their home as it looks neat and spacious, but someone with a good eye for interior design will be able to mix and match woods to brilliant effect.

When thinking about homes without hardwood flooring, it’s fairly rare that a singular carpet style or color is used for every single room, so why should wood have to match?

The truth is that different rooms may well suit different shades of wood.

Smaller rooms benefit from light-colored woods such as maple or ash the most. It helps to make the room feel more spacious and airy.

On the other hand, larger, south-facing rooms need luxurious darker woods like walnut so the sunlight doesn’t completely wash the decor out.

You can even use two different kinds of wood in the same room.

It’s not a common choice, but if you have a large room and you want to allocate distinct zones within it, two kinds of wood are a quirky and often beautiful way of going about it.

If you have mismatched woods, you certainly won’t have to worry about refinishing them all at once, as they already lack parity.