How To Change Hardwood Floor Color [3 Quick Steps To Follow]

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Hardwood floors are a beautiful feature to have in any home. When installing hardwood floors yourself, you can customize everything along the way. But luckily, even if the floor is already installed, you can still customize the color of your floor. If you are looking to change up your hardwood floor color, we have all the information you will need to know.

You can change hardwood floor colors by:

  1. Sanding off the old color finish
  2. Once you remove the old topcoat and stain, you can restain the floor
  3. Seal with a topcoat. 

You can go from light to dark as well as dark to light. Different types of wood will have different reactions with color stain, so be sure to test the color out before doing the entire floor. 

Changing your hardwood floor color can completely change the feel of your home. It is a big project, but it can be accomplished with the proper tools and time. Keep reading for instructions, tips, and more.

A painted using a brush to clean the wooden tiles before painting, How To Change Hardwood Floor Color [3 Quick Steps To Follow]

How to change hardwood floor color?

1. Sand off the old stain

First, you should prep the sanding area by removing doors, floor molding, curtains, and things hanging on walls. Then cover vents, windows, and doorways around the area. Before sanding, be sure no nails or staples are sticking out that could damage the sandpaper.

After prep, you can begin sanding with a random orbital sanding machine. Sand along the grain of the floor while in constant motion to avoid damage. You can use a detail sander for hard-to-reach places. Sanding is done in three rounds: coarse 30-40 grit sandpaper on the first pass, medium 50-60 grit on the second, and fine 80-100 grit on the third. In between rounds of sanding, vacuum dust with a brush attachment.

2. Apply New Stain

After the last round of sanding and vacuuming, mop the floor to prepare for staining or sealing. Apply a pre-stain conditioner and stain following manufacturer directions. Generally, the conditioner is applied and left to soak into the wood for up to 15 minutes. Then the excess is removed with a cloth, and the stain is applied within two hours. If you want the color to be darker, you can apply more than one coat of stain.

3. Seal the Floor

Lastly, you will need to seal the floor with two to three coats of polyurethane. To begin, remove any lint and particles on the floor with a microfiber cloth. Next, you apply the polyurethane finish with a natural bristle brush in smooth strokes going inward around the edges of the area.

For the center, you can use a floor applicator to spread an even layer. Let each layer dry for the time listed in your instructions; typically, dry times are between twenty-four to forty-eight hours. 

Sanding an existing wooden flooring inside a living room

You will have to repeat the polyurethane application at least once more after the first layer dries. After that last coat, let it dry and cure for a few days before replacing molding, doors, and furniture. The entire refinishing process can be seen in the video below:

Can you stain hardwood floors without sanding?

A man applying a new pattern on sanded flooring

It is possible to change the color of your hardwood floors without heavy sanding. Light sanding is required to at least scuff the current finish to help the new one stick. You can find polyurethane finishes specifically crafted to be applied to other finishes to change the color.

Although this is a possibility, it is not guaranteed to adhere to all floors, which can cause peeling. Also, the resulting color will be an overlap of both finishes. Therefore you cannot go to a lighter color.

Can hardwood floors be refinished to a different color?

Yes, you can refinish hardwood floors to a different color. The only limit is the available wood stain colors. To change the color of the floor, you will need first to pick the color. Wood stains come in a range of natural colors that can be as dark as mahogany and as light as white.

If you need help choosing a stain color, you can head over to our article on the best floor and wall color combinations.

Can you stain hardwood floors gray?

Yes, hardwood floors can be stained gray no matter the color of your original stain. However, if your natural wood color is still too dark for the stain, there is a way to lighten the wood itself. You can do that through a bleaching process, but it is not recommended for exotic woods with rich red tones like mahogany.

An-up-close-photo-of-the-patterns-in-a-wooden-flooring

Every wood floor is different and will react to the bleach and/or stain color differently. So it is crucial to test out any stain or bleach on a small section of your flooring before applying it to the entire floor.

How do you bleach wood floors?

If your hardwood does require bleaching, you can do that after sanding. First, you will need to get bleach that is specifically marketed to lighten the wood. Be sure to follow the directions on the wood bleach for best results.

The general process for bleaching is to apply the solution to the wood floors and allow it to sit for the instructed time. Next, you would neutralize the bleach is and clean it off of the wood. Lastly, you can apply your stain on top or seal with polyurethane. 

Check out wood bleach on Amazon.

How much does it cost to change the color of hardwood floors?

Depending on the square footage of your hardwood flooring, the costs to refinish will vary. If you are planning to take on this project as a DIY, then there are a few expenses you will need to think about. However, it will be a set price per square foot from the service provider if you get it done professionally.

A man applying a new color on the sanded flooring

As of 2021, the average refinishing cost per square foot is between $3.00 to $8.00. You are looking at a range of about$1000 to $2500 to get floors refinished professionally, depending on the size of the room. 

DIY refinishing costs

If you go the DIY route, you will need to consider all of the supplies needed. Here is a list of supplies you will need:

  • Sanding machine rental: $60/day
  • Sanding pads: $45-$60
  • Floor stain: $40-$80
  • Polyurethane: $40-$90
  • Particulate face mask: $17
  • Wood bleach (optional): $80

The overall price of this DIY project can be around $2.00- $5.00 per square foot. 

Safety Tips

A heavy duty N95 mask isolated on a white background

If you are going to attempt this project on your own, safety is the number one priority. First, when sanding, you need to wear a particulate mask to avoid breathing in wood dust. Next, you will need to make sure you properly ventilate your home when working with the stain and polyurethane. The fumes from the products used are dangerous to breathe in. Lastly, you may want to wear safety goggles and gloves to further protect your eyes and hands.

Can you paint over old hardwood floors?

Yes, you can paint over hardwood floors, but there is a big reason that you may not want to. Paint is runny and can seep into the wood permanently. If you know that you will not be refinishing your floors, painting them will not be a problem. Although, if you want to refinish down the line, no amount of sanding will be able to remove all of the absorbed paint. 

If you are going to paint the floor, the best paint you can use is an oil-based porch and floor paint. You want to go for this paint because it will be more durable in the long run. Avoid any paint labeled as acrylic; these paints are not very durable for floors. These kinds of paints have potent fumes, so be sure to keep the area well ventilated. 

How do you paint hardwood floors?

Painting the floor is a similar process to staining, but it is much cheaper and faster. Before you paint, you will need to sand. The best thing to do is to strip off the old topcoat entirely before painting. However, at the very least, you can scruff the coating without removing it completely. Always do a tester section to determine what the best option is for your floors. 

A man applying a new color on the wooden flooring

Once you have settled on the best sanding option for you, you can paint the first coat. After the first coat dries, you will lightly sand the surface, sweep away dust, and paint on the second coat.

If your paint contains polyurethane, then you can sit back and wait for the second coat to dry and cure. If not, you can opt to seal the floor yourself or leave the finish as-is, and it will fully cure in a few days.

In Closing

Refinishing your hardwood floors is a great way to redesign your home. Along with your new floors, you can pair it with a complimentary area rug. For some hardwood floor area rug inspiration, read our article on what color rug goes with hardwood floors. Whether you are painting the floor or completely refinishing it, recoloring your floor is a great way to redesign your home.

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