How Long Does It Take To Sand and Stain Hardwood Floors

How Long Does It Take To Sand and Stain Hardwood Floors

It usually takes between two and five days to refinish hardwood floors, depending on the type of polyurethane you use (oil or water-based), and the size and condition of your floors.

For example, some flooring businesses may be able to sand approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet in one day or several hundred square feet in a few hours. Re-sanding floors with old finishes will usually take longer time than sanding unfinished hardwood. It might also take longer to sand floors in older homes, floors that have sustained water damage, or floors located in humid environments.

Oil-based polyurethane takes twice as long to dry as a water-based poly, and only one coat can be applied per day.  If you are going with a stain on the hardwood flooring, this adds at least one additional day to the project as well.

If you are also planning refinishing hardwood floors before any event or occasion then you’re at the right place. This article will guide you about the products and time taken by these products to refinish hardwood floors. Let’s have a look!

Oil-based polyurethane – length of time to refinish hardwood

Stained Floor

In general, it will usually take 3-5 days to refinish hardwood floors with an oil-based polyurethane (+ drying time), depending on whether there is a stain/how dark the stain is/how humid it is and how many coats of polyurethane you apply.

Unstained Floor

Often, when, it is natural (no stain), with 3 coats of polyurethane, it can be done in 3 sequential days (allowing 24 hrs for each coat to dry) when the weather is dry/not humid.

Dark Stains

Each coat of polyurethane usually needs 24 hrs to dry and a stain will need 24 hrs to dry but if it’s a darker stain, it could take 36 or even 48 hrs for the stain to dry.  So, in the case of a dark stain that needs 2 days to dry and if you apply 3 coats of poly, you are up to 5 days.

Large Area

Most places can sand up to 1000 sq ft per day, so if you have a large area (e.g. 3,000 sq ft), you may add up to 2 more days.  Alternatively, sometimes we can double up on the crews to reduce the elapsed time frame.

Water-based polyurethane – length of time to refinish hardwood

Fast Drying

The largest benefit to water-based polyurethane is that it dries faster.  So, if you are in a huge rush, sometimes this can solve your time challenges.  It usually only takes about 2 days to refinish hardwood floors with water-based polyurethane.

(Some places will do it in 1 day, but I would recommend staying away from those places, it will last longer if you allow more drying time, and each coat needs an extra 2-4 hrs to dry.)

24 Hours

You can usually move furniture 24 hrs later with water-based polyurethane.

  • Some Factors That Delay The Process: As mentioned above, there are some other items that can lengthen the process (e.g. square footage, type of wood, rip up, repair work, etc.)

Drying time after the floors are refinished:

After you’ve refinished your hardwood floors, you need to wait before walking on them and/or moving (or returning furniture).

Minimum Time

At a minimum, you should wait at least 24 hrs before walking on the floors; for hours 24-48, it’s best to wear socks only (no shoes, no bare feet).

Ideal Time

Ideally, you should wait a total of 4 days before moving furniture back.  This is to allow enough time for the floors to dry and cure.

Now the question arises, can you move furniture back after 2 days?  Yes you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the refinishing process takes a while and the areas to be done and you cannot have access to these rooms/nor move furniture in.

This is the reason most people opt to refinish their floors before they move (ideal) or else wait until they will be away on vacation (for at least a week).

Factors that can affect the time to completion


If the floor is uneven, you will have to remove a lot more material to get back to that clean, level surface. You could leave it uneven, but that would mean using a hand sander to get into those gaps, it won’t save you any time. Floors that are cupped come under this category.

Previous finish

How long does it take to sand a floor when it’s covered with carpet glue? Let me tell you so much more!

Oiled Floor

If you are lucky enough to have an oiled floor then congratulations.

Whether it is penetrating oil like Bona Craft Oil, Magic Oil, or Loba Impact Oil, or a hard wax oil like Osmo Polyx Oil, Bona Hardwax Oil, and Rubio Monocoat, all of these products made from vegetable oil are easy to do not difficult in any case.

Aluminum Oxide Surface

If you are unlucky enough to have a finished floor with an “aluminum oxide” Be prepared for the tough times to come, AliOxide is extremely tough and abrasives tend to fail on the surface.

For example, a cupped floor with an aluminum oxide finish. Oh man!


There are many types of damage that can penetrate the surface and increase sanding time. The first is the dents. As mentioned above, deep dents from falling heavy objects or even just stilettos can mean that a lot of wood has to be removed from the floor surface.

UV damage penetrates deep into the wood. UV damage is the lightening (or sometimes darkening) caused by sunlight. Many believe that it is the surface that has been damaged by UV rays, not the wood; UV damage not only affects the surface of the wood, it can also penetrate very deeply, meaning that more material has to be removed.

If the surface is worn and the wood has turned gray, as wood has over time, sanding may take longer than if it was protected by the old finish caused by contact with water and air. It also takes a deep grind to clean.

The type of wood

Oak (which makes up the vast majority of floors in the US) is usually very comfortable to sand, it has the perfect properties for it. Some pine trees are easy to sharpen and others are very hard, like heart pine (pitch pine for British people).

There are very hardwoods like jarrah and Rhodesian mahogany that require a lot of sanding to remove this material; you also get woods that work well with coarse abrasives but can be real agony with finer grains like teak. B. Woods that do not respond well to coarse abrasives, but for some reason sand very well and easily with higher grits, such as wenge and panga.

I’ve sanded oak floors that are over 100 years old, the oak starts to petrify over time, in this case, it took a room all day to sand the 36 grit clean and flat on just 200 square meters. You can ask any professional and they will tell you about nightmare jobs where the floor was so difficult to sand and took so long.

The number of rooms

You may have a small total area to sand, but if you are in a lot of small rooms and hallways it will take more time on the edges, but also shorter passes with the big machine.

To Sum Up

I hope I have given you some ideas and gained your knowledge for working out how long your project is going to take.

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