How to refinish your hardwood floors with natural hardwax oil

After years of dreaming about having beautiful hardwood floors, we’ve finally made it happen and I’m so thrilled with how they turned out. But seriously, ever since the floors have been refinished in our Master Bedroom, I’ve made a habit of walking past the room just to ogle them every morning (and evening, if I’m being honest). Let’s dive into the details.

We opted to use Rubio Monocoat, a natural penetrating hardwax oil for a lot of reasons, which I laid out in detail here. But in a nutshell: it’s VOC-free, all-natural, and is applied in a single coat. Oh, and the finish is absolutely gorgeous.

Depending on your square footage, this is at least a two day process. I’m going to break what you need by day one (prep and sanding) and day two (stain application), but recognize that you may need more days to complete your own space.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Day One

Day Two

Day One

1. Clear out your space and remove trimwork

First up, clear your furniture out of the space. Recognize that it will be painful for a week and your house will be in chaos, but it’s totally worth it. One of the reasons why we’re tackling the floors in three phases is because we’re trying to keep our furniture-moving between floors at a minimum. It’s not ideal, but it’s realistic given that we’re living in the house through the refinishing. Ideally, the best time to refinish your floors is right before you move into a house for the first time and haven’t yet brought in your furniture. Alas, next time!

Also, make sure to remove any baseboards that you plan on replacing. If you’re not replacing baseboards, make sure to remove any quarter round trim.

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2. Tape off doorways and electrical outlets

Surprisingly, there isn’t tons of dust created in the refinishing process but you still want to tape plastic in doorways to spaces that aren’t being refinished and tape off any other crevices where dust could go (e.g. electrical outlets).

3. Address nails and staples

Sometimes there are visible nails and staples in the floors, make sure to punch them into the floor so they aren’t on the surface. We recently upgraded to this nail punch set and love it. Also, this is a good time to address any squeaky floor boards. We used this kit to nail down boards that had some give in them, which was causing lots of squeaks throughout the room. Finish up by vacuuming between the floorboards and getting your surface totally clear for sanding.

4. Sand the floors

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In preparation, we pored over the details on this blog. And then we followed the instructions to a tee, including some steps that were a bit painstaking:

  1. Sanded at 24 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  2. Sanded at 36 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  3. Applied wood putty to visible nail holes (this one, it has to be hard wood putty specifically for floor refinishing)
  4. Sanded at 60 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  5. Sanded at 80 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  6. Sanded at 100 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  7. Sanded at 120 grit with a hand sanding block

So yeah, sanding the floors is a lot of work. It’s surprisingly not terribly dusty, but it does take quite a bit of time to get right. To be honest, we’re considering hiring out the sanding process when we tackle our downstairs, because it’s a ton of labour (especially for perfectionists). That being said, we will still sand the rest of the upstairs ourselves, because the space isn’t so big that it will take more than a day of our time.

One other thing to watch out for is ‘Edge Swirl’, where you see round scratches from the orbital sander in the wood. We finished up the room by walking around with a flashlight to identify if there was any edge swirl we needed to hand sand out. Before you start sanding, it’s worth watching a few Youtube videos on how to use the edge sander to avoid swirl (this one’s pretty informative). Something to keep in mind, the darker your stain, the more visible the swirl marks will be on your finished floors.

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5. Clean with RMC Cleaner

Vaccuum your floors and then use the Rubio Monocoat RMC Cleaner on the floors with a soft white cloth. We used the terry towels for application. The cleaner will pick up any remaining dust that’s sitting on the floors, so your floors are ready for stain.

Day Two

6. Optional step: Waterpop your floors.

Waterpopping is the act of lighting wetting your raw hardwood and allowing it to fully dry. This step opens up the pores of the wood and allows for a more even and deeper stain. Be careful to evenly apply the water across the wood, since it can cause patchiness if the water is inconsistent. Allow the floors to fully dry. The floors are now very vulnerable to scratching and dents after waterpopping. You’ll notice that they feel different when you touch them after waterpopping.

7. Stain your floors

Next, we’re tackling the stain process. The best part about using Rubio Monocoat, is that this step is quick and painless. We used Rubio Monocoat Oil plus 2C with Accelerant B. Adding the accelerant, allows your floors to cure in 3x less time, so definitely opt for it.

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You’re going to start by mixing part A (the oil) with part B (the accelerant) in a plastic bucket. Then, start applying the stain to the edges of the room working the stain about 6″-8″ from the wall using the stain applicator. We would pour a small amount of the stain into a paint tray and then dip the applicators into the tray before applying to the floor. Allow the stain to sit for three minutes, then return with a clean terry cloth and rub the stain out of the floor intensely in round motion (simulating a buffer).

Next, start working your way out of the room in small sections, we did roughly 4×6 sections of the floor. Large enough that we could set the buffer on top of the whole section, but not so big that we didn’t exceed the 3 minutes in waiting time.

Then, take the buffer and buff the section using a white pad. Once the section is fully buffed out, replace the pad with a new white pad and lay one terry cloth underneath it. Buff with the terry cloth underneath the pad and it will remove the last remaining stain off the surface.

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Repeat in sections until you’re done!

Then, admire your floors and let them cure. You can walk on them after 24-36 hours and move furniture in after 7 days.

And here are the final photos of our bedroom: the colour is absolutely perfect – brown without any red undertones and the finish is incredible with such a slight satin sheen that looks incredibly custom.

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Rubio Monocoat gifted their product for this post. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use and enjoy!

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