Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Sep 19, 2023

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring: Breathe New Life into Your Floors

Hickory, known for its stunning visual appeal and remarkable durability, is a popular choice for flooring. Over time, even this robust wood can show signs of wear and tear, necessitating a refresh. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of sanding and refinishing hickory flooring, ensuring that your floors remain as timeless and enduring as the wood itself.

In the realm of flooring materials, hickory stands tall as a choice that marries durability with rustic elegance. A favourite in American homes, this hardy wood species is prized for its unique grain patterns and a broad spectrum of rich olors. Over time, even the most resilient of materials can succumb to daily wear and tear, losing a bit of their initial luster. Fortunately, the road to rejuvenation is well within reach. Our comprehensive guide on sanding and refinishing hickory flooring comes to your aid, offering a detailed walkthrough to help you restore the once radiant and inviting surface of your floors. Join us as we step-by-step uncover the secrets to bringing back the glorious charm of your hickory flooring, making it a timeless testament to both beauty and durability.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Understanding Hickory as a Flooring Material

Before we dive into the sanding and refinishing process, it’s crucial to understand the unique properties of hickory wood.

Hardness and durability

Hickory is one of the hardest domestic hardwoods available in North America. Its Janka hardness rating, which measures the wood’s resistance to dents and wear, stands at an impressive 1820. This makes it a durable option for flooring, capable of withstanding daily wear and tear.

Grain and colour variations

Hickory presents a vibrant variety of colours, ranging from pale yellow to dark brown. Its pronounced grain pattern adds a rustic and warm touch to any space. However, this also means that during the sanding process, attention to detail is paramount to preserving its distinctive character.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Gathering necessary tools and materials

Before embarking on the project, ensure you have all the necessary tools and materials. These may include:

  • Sanding machine (drum sander or orbital sander)
  • Edge sander
  • Sandpaper (various grits, from coarse to fine)
  • Wood filler
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Tack cloth
  • Safety gear (goggles, ear protection, and masks)
  • Staining materials (if you plan to stain)
  • Polyurethane finish
Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring
Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring
Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Step-by-Step Guide to Sanding Hickory Flooring

Follow this step-by-step guide to properly sand your hickory flooring:

Step 1: Preparing the Room

Clearing the space

Remove all furniture, rugs, and other movable items from the room. It’s also advisable to cover any built-in furniture or cabinets to protect them from dust.

Protecting the walls and fixtures

Shield baseboards, walls, and fixtures with protective plastic sheeting to avoid any damage during the sanding process.

Step 2: Initial sanding

Choosing the Right Grit Sandpaper

Begin with coarse-grit sandpaper, usually 36 or 40 grit, to remove the old finish and level the floor. Gradually move to finer grits (60, 80, and 100) to smooth the surface.

Sanding Technique

Utilise a sanding machine to sand the floor in sections, moving with the grain of the wood to prevent cross-grain scratches. Pay special attention to edges and corners, using an edge sander if necessary.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Step 3: Patching and Repairing

Filling Gaps

Inspect the floor for any gaps, cracks, or holes. Use wood filler to patch these imperfections, ensuring a seamless and smooth surface.

Sanding Filler

Once the filler is dry, sand the areas where it was applied to blend it with the rest of the floor.

Step 4: Fine Sanding

Using Fine-Grit Sandpaper

For the final sanding pass, use a fine-grit sandpaper (120 or higher) to achieve a smooth and even surface.

Hand Sanding

In areas where the sanding machine cannot reach, hand-sand using a sanding block to maintain consistency.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Step 5: Cleanup


Vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove dust and debris from the sanding process.

Tack Cloth

Use a tack cloth to wipe down the floor and remove any remaining dust particles, preparing the surface for refinishing.

Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Now that your floor is sanded and prepped, it’s time to refinish it to restore its beauty and protection.

Step 6: Staining (if desired)

Choosing a stain

If you decide to stain your hickory flooring, choose a stain that complements the wood’s natural colour variations and grain pattern.

Applying the stain

Apply the stain evenly using a brush or rag, following the wood grain. Allow it to penetrate the wood before wiping off the excess. Let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 7: Applying the Finish

Selecting a Finish

Choose a polyurethane finish to protect your floor and enhance its beauty. You can choose between oil-based and water-based finishes depending on your preference.

Applying the Finish

Apply the finish using a roller or brush, following the wood grain to avoid streaks. Apply multiple coats, sanding lightly between each coat to ensure a smooth finish.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Step 8: Curing and Maintenance


Allow the finish to cure fully, which can take several days, before moving furniture back into the room.


Maintain your newly refinished hickory flooring by cleaning it regularly with a dry mop or vacuum and using floor protectors on furniture to prevent scratches.

Sanding and Refinishing Hickory Flooring

Conclusion: Enjoy Your Restored Hickory Flooring

By following this comprehensive guide, you can breathe new life into your hickory flooring. With its renewed beauty and strength, your floor will continue to be a focal point in your home, blending charm and resilience in a way that only hickory can.

Remember, sanding and refinishing is a task that demands precision and patience. If you’re unsure about undertaking this project yourself, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional who specialises in wood floor restoration. They can help ensure that your hickory floors are restored to their original grandeur, ready to grace your home for many more years to come.


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