Planning to sand and refinish hardwood floors is pretty tough to do, without knowing how long it takes to sand a floor. The answer to this question might surprise you!
How long does it take to sand a floor? It can take 1-5 days for a professional and 2-15 days for a DIY enthusiast, depending on the size and condition of the floor. Doing the wrong thing can also slow you down a lot. Use this post to determine how long your floor will take.
You know, as I sit here in my garden, on this sunny afternoon, it has just hit me. It’s really difficult to come up with a rock-solid way to calculate how long your floor will take!
This isn’t the first time I have thought about it. Far from it. As you can imagine, I am trying to work this out every single day. When I am writing a quote to send through to a client, or even when I have finished the first day of work and I’m trying to re-assess how long the floor will take from that day onward… It’s really hard!
What’s more, I get it wrong… a lot. Sometimes it is because I am being over-optimistic and I think it’s going to be easy but then it ends up being quite hard. Other times I am not looking forward to the job because the floor is in such a bad state and there are cast iron radiators everywhere! I turn up and it sands off like butter.
As you can probably see, there are a lot of factors that will determine just how quickly you will be able to refinish your floors. However, if you read on, you will find a guideline on how long it takes to sand a floor.
Having your floors professionally resanded.
Some homeowners may have the ability to invest some money into getting their floors refinished professionally. If this is you, good for you, you can expect a very good finish and a much shorter time to completion. The bigger the floor is the more labour a company might add to the project, speeding up the time to completion still.
It is a rare occasion that a floor sanding and refinishing job (as opposed to floor fitting or lacing in) is going to take longer than 5 days.
Having given it some thought, this is how I would work it out. 1 day per room, with a minimum of 1 day, but they may finish a day early. LOL I bet that makes zero sense. Any floor is going to take a minimum of 1 day. And generally, you can add a day per room, but they may get that done a day early. So 4 rooms will take 3-4 days, 5 rooms 4-5 days. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you have 5 rooms with oak that is in great condition and you don’t want it stained. They may get that finished in 3 days. Heck, I know guys that could get that done in 2.
If you have particularly large or small rooms, you could change that to 250ft² (25m²) per day.
Tackling your floors yourself.
When sanding and refinishing your hardwood floors yourself, it can be a lot harder to calculate how long it’s going to take. To come up with a super simple answer, take the above calculation and double it.
That sounds a bit excessive but I actually think that’s optimistic for DIYers. There’s definitely no way of breaking that timeline without my video course. It is very easy to go on for longer.
Rental sanding machines in the UK are much less powerful than professional sanding machines. The abrasives you get in rental shops tend to be a lot less effective also. Trade abrasives are usually made of zirconia or ceramic, whereas DIY abrasives are made of aluminium oxide (fairly soft and wears out quickly) or silicon carbide (very hard, but smashes to stay sharp, then wears out fairly quickly).
Even if you had all of the exact same tools and abrasives we use and someone stood over your shoulder telling you what to do you cannot be as fast, just due to the practice and experience. Floor sanding is a very high touch job. Experience breeds speed and confidence, and confidence itself breeds speed.
Other things that can affect the time to completion
If the floor is uneven you will need to remove much more material to get back to that clean flat surface. You could leave it uneven, but that would involve using a hand sander to get into those dips. That will not save you any time. Floors that are cupped come under this category.
How long does it take to sand a floor if it’s covered in carpet glue? Let me tell you, a lot longer! If you are lucky enough to have a floor that has been oiled. Congrats. That stuff is going to sand off like nothin’. Whether its penetrating oil like Bona Craft Oil, Magic Oil, Or Loba Impact Oil, or a hardwax oil such as Osmo Polyx Oil, Bona Hardwax Oil and Rubio Monocoat. Any of these products, made of vegetable oil, are just not tough in any way. I have mentioned this on other parts of my website before. I am just not a big fan of vegetable oil floor finishes.
If you are unlucky enough to have a prefinished floor with and “aluminium oxide” finish. Prepare for tough times ahead, Ali-Oxide is extremely tough and the abrasives tend to just skirt over the surface. A cupped floor with an aluminium oxide finish… oh man.
There are many types of damage that might sink into the surface and cause an increase in sanding time. The first is the dents. Deep dents from dropping heavy items or even just from stiletto heels can mean having to remove lots of wood from the surface of the floor, just like mentioned above. UV damage penetrates deep into the wood. UV damage is the lightening (or sometimes darkening) caused by sunlight. Many believe it’s the finish that has been UV damaged and not the wood. However, UV damage not only affects the surface of the wood but it can penetrate quite deeply. Again, meaning more material needs to be removed.
If the finish has worn off the surface and the wood has greyed as woods tend to do over time. This can take more time to sand off than if it is protected by the old finish. Like the UV damage, this penetrates fairly deeply but is caused by water and air exposure. It also needs a deep sanding to get clean.
The type of wood
Oak (which accounts for a huge majority of floors in the US) is usually very nice to sand, it has the perfect properties for it. Some pines sand off easily and some are very tough, like Heart Pine (Pitch Pine for the UK folk). There are very hard woods like Jarrah and Rhodesian Mahogany which take a lot of sanding to get that material off. You also get woods that work well with the coarse abrasives but can be a real pain during the finer grits like Teak. As well as woods that don’t react well to coarse abrasives, but for some reason sand off very well and easy with higher grits, such as Wenge and Panga Panga.
I have sanded oak floors that are over 100 years old. The oak begins to petrify over time. In that instance, one room has taken me all day just to do the 36 grit sanding to get it clean and flat just in one 200 square foot room. You can ask any pro and they will tell you about some nightmare jobs where the floor was just so hard to sand and it took such a long time.
The number of rooms
You can have a small total surface area to sand, but if it’s in a lot of tiny little rooms and hallways, it’s going to add extra time in edging, but also shorter passes with the big machine.
I hope I have given you some ideas for working out how long your project is going to take. If you feel I have missed anything, or there is something I could add to this page to better answer this question, please let me know in the comments below!
Are you just about to start your floor sanding and refinishing project? Check out my free Tutorials to get a better idea and game plan for what you’re going to do.