How to Refinish a Pine Floor

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how to refinish a pine floor

Pine is a unique and relatively inexpensive material to use for flooring. Despite being a soft wood, it is dense enough to be virtually indestructible with a lot of use. 

The amount of mass that pine has makes it resistant to dents and gouges. It can also have a beautiful sheen that looks at home in any style house. 

However, when pine is finished and stained, it tends to get a pale, yellow tint that can be unattractive. 

If this is the case with your pine flooring, you may want to refinish it. Getting rid of that yellow luster can really bring out the bright and airy qualities of the wood. 

In this article, we have laid out the process for refinishing a pine floor without that tint. By following these steps, you can bring out the natural beauty of this durable wood. 

Refinishing a Pine Floor: Basic Idea

Refinishing a pine floor is a relatively simple and quick process. With just a few steps, you can give your home a whole new look. 

These steps are: 

  • Sand the finish
  • Remove all dust
  • Clean with an oil-based soap 
  • Apply a satin sealer 

Why Keep a Pine Floor’s Natural Finish?

keep pine floors natural finish

When finishing a floor, the instinct is always to add a polyurethane top coat. This top coat can help protect the wood and prevent scratches and damage. 

However, because of the chemical makeup of pine, polyurethane will soak into the fibers and react with a tint. This yellow color can be unattractive and give the wood an old-fashioned, faded look. 

By keeping the natural luster of pine, you can enjoy the bright and refreshing color of the wood. 

Since pine is relatively dense, you don’t usually need to cover it with a polyurethane like you do for other flooring. It will be strong enough to withstand everyday use on its own. 

Instead of polyurethane, there are products and techniques you can use that will bring out the natural beauty of pine. These won’t change the color and you can enjoy the fresh look while still adding a sealing top coat. 

Sand Off the Current Finish 

Before you start, be sure to remove all the furniture and trim from the room and the walls. If your floors have a polyurethane top coat, this dust will get everywhere when you start sanding. 

Sand the top coat and any stain off your floors using an orbital sander. Work in the direction of the grain and make sure to overlap your strokes to get every inch. 

It may take several passes with the sander to get all the old finish off. 

Stain is meant to get down into the pores of the wood, so it can take a while to sand off. Don’t stop until you get down to the bright, almost white raw wood underneath the finish. 

Sweep and Vacuum 

sweep and vacuum

Once you have sanded down the floors, you should have the raw wood exposed throughout the whole area. This is the color that you are trying to keep with the new finish. 

You should notice the difference between what the color used to be and what the wood actually looks like. The yellowing that happens with polyurethane is only on the surface.

Sweep and vacuum the entire floor as thoroughly as you can. 

It is also recommended that you wear a mask and eye protection for this whole process. Polyurethane dust can irritate your lungs and eyes, so it is best to be safe. 

Once you have swept and vacuumed the area, be sure to do it at least one more time. This ensures that you have gotten rid of all the dust so you have a clean slate for the new finish. 

Clean With Oil Soap  

Once you have sanded and swept the flooring, you are going to want to clean it with an oil-based soap. 

Oil soaps bring out the bright colors and natural beauty of pine and help remove any contaminants. Getting your flooring as clean as possible is an essential step. 

Once you have cleaned the floor with the oil soap, rinse it down and remove any excess. You don’t want to have any oil left over on the floor when you add your top coat. 

Let the floors dry completely. Overnight is best so you can be sure they are thoroughly free of moisture.

Apply a Satin Top Coat

Even though you are trying to keep your floors natural, a top coat is still a good idea. It can help seal in that natural finish and prevent the floors from fading from the sun or spills.

Instead of polyurethane, use a satin or matte sealer. These types of products won’t tint the pine and will leave the bright, airy look. 

Apply at least two coats of sealer to ensure you get every area of the floor. Use a brush or roller to apply it and work in long, even strokes to avoid brush marks. 

Let the sealant dry for at least 48 hours to allow it to set and cure properly before you walk on it. 

Your pine floors will now be protected and that beautiful light color will be locked in. 


faq how to refinish pine floor

  • Can you refinish pine floors without sanding?

Any wood flooring will need to be sanded if you want to refinish it

If you add any sealants or stains to a floor that hasn’t been sanded, the product won’t set properly. They need to get down into the grain and pores of the wood in order to be effective. 

  • Can you leave pine floors unfinished?

You can leave pine floors completely raw if you would like. However, it is important that you sand them smooth and avoid spilling anything. 

With nothing to protect them, stains will set very easily and potentially ruin the wood. 

  • How long do pine floors last?

If they are properly taken care of, pine floors can last at least a decade. Pine is very resilient and can withstand a lot of use over many years. 


If you are tired of your pine floors looking yellow and tinted, refinishing is a great choice. 

By following our steps above, you can retain the beautiful natural look of the wood. You can also protect it and make sure that color is sealed in for years to come. 

Photo of author


Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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