How to Refinish Red Oak Flooring

February 23, 2022by LV Flooring0

Your home may be a bit old, and the flooring is starting to look weird. Or you could have had some bad installation on your red oak flooring that you need to refinish. Regardless of why you want to refinish your red oak floor, doing so is a great way to bring a sense of newness to your home.

Refinishing your red oak floors usually seems like a daunting task at its initial stages. You may make a few mistakes on your first attempt. But with the proper steps, you may even surprise yourself with the finished result.

Refinishing your red oak flooring is a task you can do yourself. This article is a guide to refinish red oak flooring without any help. Here, we’ll discuss the steps to follow for successful red oak floor refinishing.

Steps to Refinish Red Oak Flooring

Red oak floors are great when you newly install them in your home. But these floors will lose their beauty after a while. The first step to refinishing your red oak flooring properly is inspecting the floor.

You can refinish red oak floors when they go ugly. But this restoration step is limited to a few uses. Therefore, an important part of how to refinish red oak flooring is ensuring the floor is viable for a refinishing job.

After confirming your red oak floor is good enough for refinishing, you can follow these steps;

Research properly

You are not the first person that wants to refinish red oak floors. Neither will you be the last.

Hundreds of people use red oak floors in their homes, and they may experience changing them. Luckily, the internet is a good place to store these experiences.

On platforms like Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, and Quora, thousands of people are willing to share their experiences on red oak refinishing. So the moment you don’t like how your red oak floor is looking, your first shot is checking out these platforms.

Refinishing your red oak floors may seem like the best decision. But you do not want to make mistakes that will leave you with no option other than a total replacement of the floors.

Checking these people’s experiences will open you to different opportunities to refinish red oak flooring. For instance, you may encounter someone who has accidentally stained the floor without sanding. That single experience will hinder you from making such mistakes.

Another decision that your research can influence is refinishing on your own or hiring a contractor. Through other people’s mistakes, you can decide whether to refinish the red oak flooring on your own or contact a contractor.

Get all the materials you need

Usually, contractors have all the tools at their disposal because it’s their regular job. You, on the other hand, will need to buy these instruments because you want the best way to refinish red oak flooring.

It’s impossible to refinish red oak floors without these tools. And in most cases, you won’t need most of the tools more than once.

That’s why people prefer to hire a contractor and pay a one-time fee instead of spending money on tools they may never need.

Some tools are critical to the success of a refinishing job, while some are not that necessary. It is better to have all the instruments you need to ensure the refinishing goes down easily.

For this guide to refinish red oak flooring, some of the tools you will need include;

  • A pry bar
  • A vacuum
  • New colours (oil-based)
  • Pliers
  • Knives
  • A suitable sander
  • Sheets
  • Safety equipment
  • Stain applicators
  • Paint rollers
  • Sheeting

Some of these materials listed above are available for purchase, while you can rent some. These items may not be the only things you need, but you can always improvise.

In case you hire a contractor, you have every right to ask for these tools. If they don’t have most of these, it is enough reason to hire a different expert to refinish your red oak flooring.

Clean your floor properly

Many experts tend to believe white oak looks better than red oak flooring. But when you manage a red oak floor properly, it looks great or even better than the white oak.

Terrible patterns on your red oak floor are primarily a result of poor cleaning. You may be cleaning the floor but doing it wrongly.

Red oak flooring primarily comprises hardwood, and as such, cleaning is crucial to its maintenance. Regular cleaning doesn’t mean you won’t have to refinish red oak flooring regularly. You just won’t have to do it frequently.

There are specific hardwood cleaners made with the sole purpose of making these floor types neat. Cleaning without these cleaners means you’re doing more harm than good to the floor. It increases the rate at which you need to refinish your red oak floor.

Even when you clean regularly, your floor will grow old over time, and it is best you clean before applying a refinish. If you don’t have the hardwood cleaner, you can use water and vinegar.

With your cleaning agent, clean the red oak flooring gently, then ensure it dries up before you refinish.

Decide if you’ll need a contractor

You will have found the best tips for red oak flooring refinishing from your research. You will know the details involved, so deciding if you need a contractor becomes an easy challenge.

As easy as it seems, this decision is one of the most critical in any red oak flooring refinishing. As a DIY expert, watching a few videos and reading blogs will make you feel like you can refinish it easily.

But this process is quite different from fixing a clogged sink or other easy DIY tasks. You may mess up the red oak flooring, leaving you with expensive repairs.

In contrast, a contractor can also cause more harm than good to the flooring. Several people label themselves with the tag “expert” globally.

You may not easily identify their inexperience, except they handle a job for you. These so-called experts may have experience installing and replacing any floor, but refinishing red oak flooring is more complicated.

Before we get to the process of getting the best contractor for your red oak flooring refinishing,  let’s discuss the pros and cons of hiring a contractor for the job.


  • Experience required for the job
  • Finding lasting solutions to other flooring problems
  • Insurance in case of any mistakes
  • No stress required. You’ll only need to prepare for their arrival.
  • Cost-effective option because it prevents further financial cost.


  • Picking the wrong contractor
  • They may get the wrong refinishing colour.
  • The good contractors may have a high price

Related Article: How to Keep White Oak Floors from Yellowing

Get the right contractor

right contractor

The most tricky part of how to refinish red oak flooring is getting the best contractor. It seems very easy until you start the search.

You have no option when refinishing red oak flooring but perfection. The job needs to be a perfect one. Any mistakes, and you’ll have your floor looking worse than before.

Making wood and installing it is not so straightforward, but with constant experience, you will attain perfection. As a result, many experts can conveniently install red oak floors and other hardwood without thinking twice.

It’s almost a reflex action to immediately assume that an expert who installs your floor should be able to refinish it. That is not always the case.

The guide to refinish red oak flooring isn’t the same as the steps to install the floor. Installing floors follows a certain rule. But refinishing is recreating the floor to the owner’s taste without removing it.

Finding a contractor to help refinish red oak flooring can be easy if you follow the proper steps. Usually, it is best to collate more than two different prices so you can get a fair price. Some of the best ways to find a contractor for your red oak flooring refinishing include;


Other people have had problems with their red oak floors and needed refinishing. You can start by asking your friends if they have patronized a contractor great at refinishing.

You may be lucky enough to find one that has worked on a red oak flooring refinishing. All you need to do is to check the job out first before you contact the contractor.

The reason you’re checking the job out is to let their work speak first before they do. Humans are great at convincing others to trust their good works. But with what you see, you can tell if you can work with the contractor.

When you go to check the contractor’s previous work, your focus shouldn’t be on the beauty. Instead, you should focus on the discreet refinishing of the red oak flooring.

Some refinings are apparent, while some are discreet. These contractors are the best pick because they know how to refinish without letting everyone know.

You can settle other details like colour and beauty when you have a conversation with them.


The Internet is the best place to find just about anything. A simple search of “red oak flooring contractors near me” will bring you a long list of options. More so, these people will be close to you!

You may not like the results you get, but there are other platforms like Yelp, Reddit, and Quora you can try. These platforms are review and opinion platforms that allow users to share their experiences, mistakes, and success on DIY activities.

Through this platform, you can get a reputable contractor to refinish red oak flooring. What you can do is to look for three, then choose based on price, experience, customer service, and preference.

Your installation contractor

Installing red oak flooring is not the same as refinishing one. But because the installation experts are already in the industry, they’re our first stop.

Sometimes, this risk works out, and your installation expert can help refinish the red oak flooring. Other times, it doesn’t work.

Whichever the case may be, your installation expert will provide you with tips for your red oak flooring refinishing.

Another advantage of contacting who helped your installation is finding errors with the floor. Your red oak flooring may have some damages that will make refinishing an impossibility. Sighting these errors may be hard for you, but not for an expert.

Make necessary repairs

The best way to refinish red oak flooring is to fix everything before starting. With a refinishing expert working on your job, you have nothing to worry about.

Their experience should already make them know the problems and have a fix. For certainty, it’s always best you get involved in the refinishing process.

You shouldn’t sit back and watch the pro refinish your red oak flooring because you have paid. There may be some dents and damages that the expert won’t notice unless you show him.

As a DIY enthusiast, calling an expert is almost impossible. That is where the tools will start coming to play.

The tools you will need to fix your red oak flooring before refinishing depend on the damages to the floor. If it has some minor cracks and holes, using a small knife and wood fillers will do.

When more significant problems like a whole section are pulled out, you will need more tools. A trowel filler will suffice in this case better than a regular wood filler. This filler type covers significant damages, but you will need a larger knife for its installation.

After installing the filler properly, please wait until it is dry before refinishing your red oak flooring.

Sand your floor

You can’t go ahead to start adding paint to your red oak flooring and term it a refinish. You need first to ensure that the floor is at the same level based on thickness and colour. The only way to do that is through sanding.

Sanding is a complex process if you haven’t done it before. But with the right tools, it can be satisfying to do.

The aim of sanding is to remove the existing paint from the wood. You can do sanding manually or automatically.

With a machine, you are only walking behind it and pushing it to refinish the main parts of the red oak flooring. These machines can’t do everything, so you may still need to clear corners with sandpaper. You can rent them at stores for home repairs.

Using sandpaper can be very daunting. There are smaller sanding machines you can control with your hands for the corners and edges. These machines are of two types; the orbital machines and the drummer machines.

The drummer machine can be too complex if you’ve never used it before. This sanding machine has a design to correct complex flooring problems, so it is very aggressive.

The orbital sander, on the other hand, is a more gentle machine. The machine is easier to use. Here is the process to sand when refinishing your red oak flooring properly;

  • Get multiple sandpapers with a grit of between 30 and 40. Between 35 and 36 gives the best result.
  • Use the bigger machine to sand the main areas of the room. Always follow a pattern.
  • As much as possible, control your machine briefly over a spot. You shouldn’t stay too long. Also, do not move too fast.
  • After sanding the main areas, use the other machines to correct the corners and edges to the same sanding thickness.

Remove Sand look

You want to refinish your red oak flooring to give it a great look. Sanding is a rough process that leaves the whole place messy.

What you will first need to do is sweep or vacuum all the particles on the floor. After that, you can now add buff and glaze to ensure your floor looks smooth.

After adding these tools, wait until your red oak flooring  is completely dry before you continue refinishing.

Pick a great colour and design

Before you start sanding, you should have an idea of how you want your floor to look. The factors that should influence this colour include your preference and your home’s existing colour.

After picking, ensure you buy a quality stain to replace the old one. Most quality colours for flooring have unique applications, usually indicated in their user description.

Related Article: Red Oak Flooring Guide

Final Words

Whether you want to hire a contractor or you want to refinish your red oak flooring on your own, the steps in this guide are all you need.

It is almost impossible to get it all done easily at your first trial. There’ll be one error or the other during the process. Hiring an expert isn’t also a guarantee for perfection.

Here at LV Flooring, we can get your red oak flooring in great condition. Contact us today to discuss flooring options for your home.

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