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How to Buff a Hardwood Floor?

You may have bought your house for the hardwood floors, but lately, they have been looking dull and nothing like when you first moved into your home. Maybe you are wondering how to buff a hardwood floor yourself and regain its beauty.

Buffering hardwood floors is an affordable way to regain your floor’s natural beauty without the cost and extra work of refinishing them. When done correctly, you can bring dull, lifeless hardwood floors back to life by renting a buffering machine for wood floor and doing the work yourself. Read on to learn more.

Buffering wood floors can help repair any minor scratches and scuffs, and even marks from your dogs’ nails when done correctly.

Gathering Your Equipment and Supplies

You will need to rent a wood floor cleaning machine or buffer unless you have one you can borrow from someone. Most home improvement stores rent these to their customers. You will need to purchase the buffing pads and polishing pads if they are not provided with the machine. You will want to get a wood finishing product to use with the buffer itself to restore its shine and beauty. Even after buying the items you need, it should still be much less cost to buff & clean hardwood floors than paying someone to do it for you.

Preparing to Buff Hardwood Floor

One of the first things you need to do before buffering your floor is to examine it for possible problem areas. It is relatively easy to get out or conceal most blemishes and the occasional scratch. Deep gouges or places where the wood has splintered or cracked are other issues. You might even find a board that would be better if you replaced it.

After carefully examining your wood floor, you will need to start preparing the floor itself to ensure you can correct any problem areas by buffering.

If you have any wax on it, currently, you will have to remove it. You can find many wax stripper products on the market, or you can use a mineral spirit. Follow the directions from the wax remover before moving on.

Next, you will want to use a damp mop or a soft rag to wipe down your floor.  Once the floor is dry, sweep it again to make sure there is no additional residue on the floor itself.

Next, use a disinfectant and make sure no germs are lurking around before buffering.  Do not use bleach, vinegar, or baking soda on your wood floor. You should either purchase a disinfectant product approved for hardwood floors or consider using hydrogen peroxide.

Spray whatever disinfectant you choose on the floor after testing a small area to ensure it does not cause any problems. Use a microfiber mop to dry the floor. You can always use a dry mop on top of the cloth to move it around carefully if you cannot get on the floor and wipe up the moisture.

After you have disinfected it, allow it to dry completely. You may want to put some fans pointed on it to help it dry faster. While it is drying is a great time to set up the buffer and other supplies you need for the job.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Always make sure you are using the wood floor buffer safely by following all instructions that came with it. Plan your buffing route so that you end up next to a door you can exit out of and do not corner yourself in the room.
  2. Before turning the buffer on, make sure both hands are firmly planted on the handle so that it does not get away from you.
  3. Do not breathe in the solution or the dust used to screen or buff the floor. These are toxic and should not be breathed.
  4. Try to plug the machine behind you if possible. Be careful not to get tangled in the cord.
  5. Do not apply too much pressure, or you will get an uneven buff. Overlap your previous runs to make sure you do not miss any.
  6. It is tough to use the buffer against the wall, so you will need to use a drywall pad to do it by hand.


You may need to screen the floor to get rid of dirt and grime along with scratched and other blemishes. While screening will not fix most stains and gouges, it can help add to the floor’s beauty by removing the top layer of polyurethane. You will need to lay the handle of the buffer level on the floor, remove the nut holding the pad on, and put on a screen, which is fine-grit sandpaper.

You will start the machine in the middle and move it outward towards the walls. If the screen gets gummy, you will need to replace it and start again. Once you have removed the top layer by screening it, you will need to thoroughly make sure no dust is left on the floor by cleaning it again with a damp rag. Then change the screen out for a polishing pad and get ready to start polishing your hardwood floor.


Do not shake your solution much, or you will get bubbles. You do not want them, or it will mess up your finish. Pour your solution into the tray. Start with one corner and move to the other in a left to the right direction. Once you have finished the first coat, allow it to dry before starting the second coat, giving you the best coverage.

Do not bring the furniture back into the room until you are sure it has dried, so you do not mess up your finish. Do not stay in one place, or you will get buff-burn.

A Few Tips to Keep Your Wood Floor Looking Great

Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning your floor. If you are unsure what they are, a good rule of thumb is to avoid steam cleaning machines and only use polish on floors with a protective barrier of urethane. Floors with penetrating finishes will do better with something like tung oil or wax.

If you use the wrong product, it can cause new problems such as slick floors or a dull finish.

To Conclude

If you follow the steps discussed above, you should be able to safely know how to buff a hardwood floor without the help of a professional giving you lasting beauty and enjoyment for years to come.