Transform Old Wooden Flooring: A DIY

Beautiful wooden flooring can bring a real depth of character and yesteryear glamour to a room. You don’t need to be a professional DIYer to sand a floor and the whole project can be done over a weekend for a cost of around $75.

Here’s how you could transform your old, wooden floorboards.

What you’ll need

  • Hammer
  • Nail punch
  • Masking tape
  • Cold chisel and old chisel
  • Filler knife and flexible wood filler
  • Edging and floor sanders
  • Dust mask, goggles and ear protection
  • White spirit and a cloth
  • Scraper
  • Varnish or finishing oil
  • Power saw
  • Drill and screws

1. Preparation

Empty the room of furniture, pictures and curtains and take up any carpet or other floor coverings. Open all the windows and exterior doors. Before you begin, make sure you’ve got everything you need in the room with you and seal the internal doors with masking tape to prevent the fine dust you’ll create from invading the rest of the house.

2. Replace broken floor boards

Inspect the floor for any broken or rotten boards that might need replacing. Usually, floor boards are simply butted together and it’s a simple process to just prise them apart using a wide-bladed cold chisel. Replace or repair any damaged boards.

3. Screw down loose boards

Sometimes floor boards are lifted in order to install electrical wiring or central heating pipes and may be loose. Nail battens along the edges of the adjacent joists to ensure that the boards sit flush with its neighbours. You’ll need to drill clearance holes in each corner of the board to stop it splitting. Screw the board into place, making sure that the screws are at least 2mm below the board’s surface.

4. Close up gaps

Any large gaps between the boards can spoil the look of the finished floor and also allow draughts. If you can, prise up the surrounding boards nearest to the wall and push them all together. Alternatively, if there are just one or two gaps, cut a sliver of timber and use it to fill in the gaps. Knot holes and minor damage can be rectified using wood filler.

5. Raised nails

Using a nail punch, work methodically across the floor checking for raised nails making sure they’re all made flush with the boards.

6. Sanding

If the boards are in good condition and are not stained, begin sanding using the medium grade sanding sheets; otherwise use the coarse grade ones. Work diagonally across the boards overlapping each strip. Keep the sander moving to avoid ruts forming. Criss-cross the room in the opposite direction to take care of any deep stains.

Swap to the medium grade sheets and sand in the direction of the boards. Once you’ve done this, finish the job using the fine abrasive and work up and down the boards again.

7. Finish off the edges

Take the round edging sander and begin with the coarse discs, working through the abrasive grades as before. Use an old chisel to scrape any dirt out of the corners and work as close to the skirting boards as you can.

8. Clean the boards

Start by vacuuming the floor. To remove the really fine residue of dust that will be left behind, wipe over the surface using a cloth dampened with white spirit which will also get rid of any grease and dirt left on the floor. Wear shoes with soft soles to avoid damaging the unsealed floor.

9. Seal the boards

It’s very important to seal the boards using either clear wood varnish or a paint specifically designed for flooring. Use a brush or roller to apply at least two coats, three for high traffic areas, in the direction of the wood grain and leave to dry overnight.


You can hire sanding machines at tool hire shops together with the sheets to go with them. Any unused sheets can be returned to the shop. If you give the shop the measurements of the room you’re going to be working on, they’ll tell you how many sheets you’re likely to need.

If you want to change the natural colour of the finished boards, use a wood stain and varnish over it to seal it once it’s dry.

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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