Before you move in, of course!
Why is that?
Reasons it’s best to refinish you floors BEFORE you move into your new home:
- First, because you can’t walk on the floors while the work is being done (as well as 24 hours afterwards.
- Second, you need to move all of the furniture out the area. Why do 3 moves, rather than 1?
- Third, it smells…so it’s best not to be in the house while it’s done
- Fourth, it’s generally less expensive and takes less time (as you don’t need to move the furniture and you can do the whole thing at once (rather than in 2 or more stages).
So what should you do if you have already moved in (and/or have lived in your house for a while)?
When is 2nd best time to refinish your hardwood floors?
When you go on vacation!
What is the best time of year to sand and refinish? Are there bad times to refinish?
Sanding and refinishing can be done throughout the year, as long as the indoor air temperature is kept between 65 and 75 degrees during the process and 30 days afterwards. Other than that, it doesn’t matter that much.
I would say the “worst” time to refinish the floors is in August…not because the work comes out badly, but rather because it tends to be more humid then, so the drying process takes a bit longer. Generally mid-Aug to Mid-September is the most humid (at least here in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states).
I suppose here in the winter, especially in Jan/Feb when it snows often, things can also get a bit delayed if there is a blizzard and the roads are icy.
If I had to pick an ideal time, I would say spring or fall when the indoor temperature is most consistent with outdoor temperature and it’s often easy to open the windows (after the work is complete) to help air out the smell faster. But, really, sanding and refinishing hardwood can take place any time of year.
What are the biggest mistakes customers make as it relates to timing for their floors?
The most common mistake is not planning ahead and not allowing enough time to refinish the floors.
Most don’t realize how long it takes to refinish hardwood floors. Many don’t realize that it often takes 3 to 5 days to refinish hardwood floors + an additional 4 days before the furniture (or drop cloths) can be put on the floors. This translates to 7 to 9 days in total….
And, if you have a large area to do as well as lot of carpet to remove and a lot of furniture to move, you may add an additional 1 to 4 days on top of that…and of course, there may be some Sundays that fall in that time frame.
So plan ahead. If you are moving into a new home, plan to do the floors first and plan to have a place to stay. That could mean extending the time you stay in your current home (e.g. extend your lease, sell your house later, rent back your house, etc), or see if you can stay with friends or family or potentially stay in hotel. I’ve also seen times where people delay when their furniture is arriving and stay in the basement, and if need be, this can work.
If you have no choice and you need to move in before doing the floors, that is fine (and sometimes it is unavoidable, especially if your closing gets delayed). Just recognize that it will most likely cost you more, be more inconvenient and take longer to do the floors if you do them later (e.g. as you will need to move the furniture and you may need to do in 2 or more phases.
If you do have the option to do the floors before you move in, you will most likely be happier (as well as avoid “redo” costs as it relates to painting (see below)) and removing the furniture and moving it back again.
The 2nd mistake is related to sequencing…doing things in the wrong order
These 2 articles should come in handy to avoid the common pitfalls:
- Should you paint or do the floors first? Many don’t realize the ideal order…until after it’s too late.
- Should you install kitchen cabinets first of do the floors first? I have seen so many sequencing blunders here…and it can impact your choices on which flooring materials you can and can’t use.
Other useful flooring articles:
- How long does it take to sand and refinish hardwood floors?
- Can you change the color of your hardwood floors?
- Stain color trends on hardwood flooring
- What types of hardwood are best for dogs (and pets)?
- FAQ’s for hardwood floor refinishing
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. I’ve just started to do some phone consultations, too.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors