There are many important steps to take when preparing to refinish your hardwood floors. The first thing to do is to see that your wood floors are in fact wood and not an engineered hardwood. If it is engineered hardwood, that should be left to the pros as it has several wood layers that are easily damaged. To see if your hardwood floor needs refinishing, simply put a few drops of water on your floor. If the water beads or soaks in slowly, you probably just need a good cleaning and polishing. If it soaks in immediately, it's time to refinish.
First things first, prep the room. Remove all furniture, drapery, pictures, and register covers. Remove baseboards and be sure to use painter's tape to mark which baseboard goes on the corresponding wall. After the baseboards are up, remove any nail heads or drive them in. You should cover anything left in the room that is built in. For example, cover vents, light fixtures, even open doorways, with plastic.
After the room is prepped, it is time to prep the floors. You want the floors to be clean and clear of any debris or dust. Use a hardwood flooring cleaner or simply mix 10 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Wipe down with a terry cloth towel. After the floor is prepped and ready to go, use a 180-grit sandpaper and hand sand the perimeter of the room and any nooks where the buffer won't be able to reach. You will sand over each board until the finish begins to dull and a powder forms.
Now you are ready to start buffing. Stick a maroon buffing pad to the buffer. Put on a dust mask too because this is where it gets dirty. Move the buffer from side to side across the floor in the direction of the grain, overlapping each course by 6 inches. You should stop every 5 minutes or so to vacuum the pad. Never stop the buffer in one place, you want to keep the buffer moving at all times.
After you are done buffing, let the powder settle for about 10-15 minutes. Then you will vacuum up the powder. Work in line with the flooring strips and sweep across them to get any powder that may have settled between the boards. Then dry tack the floor with a microfiber cloth along the grain.
Now you can start the refinish process! Start by doing cut ins along the edges of the room. Using a 1-inch wide roller, roll out the finish with the grain and then across it. Overlap each path and work quickly. Continue until the floor is well coated. You will have to wait 3 hours before re-coating and one week before you move any furniture back in.
Sutherlands can help you with all the tools and materials you will need to refinish your hardwood floors.