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Mistakes to Avoid when Stripping Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a beautiful and popular addition to any home, but they need to be cared for and maintained. Stripping hardwood flooring is an important part of this process, as it removes the old layers of finish that have become dull or damaged due to wear and tear. However, many people make mistakes when stripping their own floors which can lead to costly repairs later on down the road. In this post we will go over 5 common mistakes you should avoid when stripping your hardwood floors so that you don’t ruin them!

Not Sanding the Floor First

What it is: When you sand your hardwood floor, you create a better surface for applying stripper. It also helps to ensure that the wood has been properly cleaned and prepared before stripping. This prevents any damage from occurring when the new finish goes on top of old layers of finish.

What it does: The most common reason people don’t sand their floors is because they think the wood will be scratched and affect its appearance. But if you use a light grit, such as an 80-grit sandpaper for example, it won’t leave any marks on your flooring that can show through in the future. Just make sure to remove dust from the surface before starting!

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure to always have some damp cloths or paper towels on hand when stripping hardwood floors so that you can quickly clean up spills or splashes of stripper liquid. Also remember that less is more – only apply enough water mixed with stripper liquid using a brush until it coats the floor. If you use too much, it will end up running into the cracks and damaging your wood!

Using Too Much Stripper and Not Enough Water

What it is: When stripping a hardwood floor with an oil-based stripper, you should always dilute the product in water before applying to the surface of the wood. This prevents any damage from occurring as well as ensures that little or no stains are left behind on your floors.

What it does: Oftentimes people fail to do this step which leads them not only apply too many layers of stripper but also have difficulty removing the old finish once all traces are gone due to how sticky it becomes after drying out.

How to avoid this mistake: If you’ve ever had a hard time removing old coats of paint, then you know how important it is to use just the right amount of water when using stripper on your floors. Always start with a small amount and add more as needed until the desired effect is achieved.

Stripping With Just A Brush Instead Of A Pad or Roller

What it is: When stripping wood flooring in an area where there are tight corners, edges, and curves for example, you should always apply the strippers (either oil-based or water-based) with either a pad or roller instead of applying by hand. This will make sure that all areas are covered evenly while also ensuring no messes occur around these tight corners.

What it does: When you apply stripper with just a brush, the edges and curves of your floors are not fully covered or coated which leads to wasted product and unnecessary work later on down the road when trying to remove old layers of finish.

How to avoid this mistake: Using either a pad or roller is an easy way around any issues that may arise from stripping hardwood flooring with only using a brush such as wastefulness, uneven coverage, messes at tight angles etc.

Applying Stripper To The Wrong Side Of Floorboards

What it is: It’s crucial for people who strip their own floors (or have someone else do it) always make sure they know whether they need to strip the top or bottom of their floorboards. If you’re not sure, just ask your hardwood store associate and they should be able to help you out!

What it does: There are a couple different reasons why this is important which we will discuss below in section five.

How to avoid this mistake: It's always best when stripping wood floors that have finished surfaces on both sides (such as oak) to flip over all boards before starting any work so that there is no confusion later down the road about what needs to happen next with those boards. Also keep a close eye on your product label for instructions - if applicable, some products need one side stripped then an opposite side applied afterwards while others require only one treatment to be done.

Forgetting to Use Gloves When Stripping Hardwood Floors

What it is: It's important for anyone who plans on stripping their own floors or have someone else do the work first and foremost always wear gloves when handling oil-based products as they will stick to your skin after drying out which can lead to stains later down the road if not dealt with properly.

What it does: Not wearing gloves while working with stripper means that once you're finished, in addition to any leftover product being stuck onto your floorboards there are also traces of oil present on your hands (and yes, this includes just water-based strippers!)

How to avoid this mistake: Always remember to put a pair of gloves on before you start any work and to continue wearing them until the job is done.

Using A Harsh Stripping Chemical That Damages The Wood

What it is: There are many different types of hardwood floor strippers out there which can be both water-based or oil-based, so it's important that when buying a stripping product one ensure they're getting something that does not contain anything other than natural oils and surfactants. These all-natural ingredients won't damage your wood but rather help remove old coats of finish in order for new ones to stick better while also ensuring longevity.

What it does: If you buy some type of harsh chemical then this leads down an even more dangerous path as these harsher chemicals are damaging to the wood and will only lead to premature wear on your floorboards.

How to avoid this mistake: Always choose a stripping product that is all natural, free of harsh chemicals or additives that can damage your floors (even if it means paying a little more), and ensure you read reviews from other people who have used these products before in order to find out what their experiences were like using them. All-natural strippers are not as strong as harsher ones so they'll need multiple applications - but hey at least there's no chance for any serious damage!


These are a few different mistakes that one should be careful to avoid when stripping their own hardwood floors. Always note these mistakes before doing any further job

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