Wood floors hold a timeless charm, exuding warmth, character, and a sense of home. Yet, over time, they may lose their luster due to wear and will need refinished. The average hardwood floor refinishing project is about 800 square feet and takes 3-5 days to complete. This of course depends on many factors. Read on to get a much more accurate answer. 
A buffer applying a brown stain to a white oak hardwood floor in South Bend, Indiana.

Understanding the Process

Refinishing wood floors involves several sequential steps, each crucial for achieving a flawless finish. Here's a simplified breakdown of the typical process:
Prepping the Space: Moving furniture, covering cabinetry with plastic, and getting the space ready for a slightly dusty work environment.
Sanding: Sanding is perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of refinishing. It entails using heavy-duty sanding equipment to strip away the old finish and expose the bare wood. The average floor gets a total of 4-5 passes with a combination of different floor sanders to achieve a flawless finish.
Staining (Optional): If you wish to alter the color of your wood floors, staining comes into play. This step allows for customization, letting you achieve the desired hue to complement your space. Staining will add 1 to 2 days to the refinishing process for two reasons. First off, most refinishing companies use oil-based stains which take up to 18 hours to dry. Second, stained floors require a much higher level of detail in the sanding, resulting in a longer total sanding time.
Sealing and Coating: Once the sanding and staining are complete (if applicable), the floors are sealed with a protective layer. These protective coatings known as “Finish,” “Poly,” or “Varnish” usually take 2-3 days to apply due to the drying process. Oil-based coatings take 8-12 hours to dry while water-based coatings take 2-3 hours to dry. With most floors getting at least 3 coats, this process is usually 2 days long for water-based floors and 3 days long for oil-based floors.
Drying and Curing: After the final coat of sealant is applied, the floors need ample time to dry and cure. This period is crucial for the finish to harden and form a durable protective barrier. Light foot traffic is okay as soon as the floors are dry, but it's important to be delicate with the floor until it reaches full cure.

Cure Times

Commercial grade water-based finishes: 2-3 days
Residential grade water-based finishes: 3-5 days
Oil-based finishes: 7 days
A Brazilian Cherry wood floor with multiple, brown, white and dark stain samples on it.

Time Frame Considerations

The duration of refinishing your wood floors varies depending on several factors.
Size of the Area: Larger areas obviously are much more time-consuming. A one-room refinish can typically be sanded in one day, but the coating process will still take as long as if it were a much larger job. On average, a two-man sanding crew can usually sand and refinish 1500 square feet of wood flooring or more.
Condition of the Floors: Floors with excessive damage will require patchwork, which is very time-consuming. Floors covered in paint or excessive layers of polyurethane will require additional sanding passes.
Species of the Floors: Certain types of wood flooring are much easier to work with than others. Red and white oak are very straightforward woods. However, some species like pine, hickory, or maple bring complications to the sanding process and require more time.
Type of Finish: Different types of finishes have varying drying times. Water-based finishes typically dry in 2-3 hours, while oil-based finishes take a full day for each coat to dry.
Stain: This is an optional step, but if you decide to change the color of your floors with stain, it will add at least one day to the average size project.
Climate and Humidity: Environmental factors such as temperature and humidity can affect drying times. High humidity levels or cold temperatures in the house will cause excessively long dry times, especially with oil-based finish.

How Long Will Your Refinish Take (Based on sq. ft.) 

500 Square feet: 3-4 days 
1000 Square feet: 4-5 days 
1500 Square feet: 5-7 days
2000 Square feet: 1-2 weeks 

How Long Does Hardwood Floor Installation Take? 

If your having real hardwood flooring installed, it will add to length of your project. Remember that unfinished wood floors must be sanded, stained and finished after the installation is complete (if your doing pre-finished floors, this is not a concern.) The average installation of new hardwood flooring takes 3-5 days. Pre-finished hardwood installations run about 25% slower than unfinished because the installers must be much more careful with the wood. 
The true length of an install depends heavily on many of the same factors listed above for the refinish as well as the following factors: 
  1. The size of the project.
  2. The type of sub floor and its condition.
  3. The width and grade of the wood.
  4. The species of the wood.
  5. The layout of the installation.
  6.  The milling quality.

Work With Us

If you are looking for hardwood flooring services, we would love to connect with you. We provide residential services to the following cities and surrounding areas: St. Joseph, Michigan; Kalamazoo, Michigan; New Buffalo, Michigan; South Bend, Indiana; Elkhart, Indiana; LaPorte, Indiana.
Commercial (Gymnasiums) Service Area:
Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois
If you need advice but are not in a service area, you can book a consultation with us here: https://LumberjackHardwoodFloors.as.me/