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Yes, you can refinish a hardwood floor.

Let us show you how. Trust Pete’s Hardwood Floors for expert advice, trusty rental equipment and the perfect supplies for any hardwood floor sanding and finishing project. Minnesota do-it-yourself homeowners are our specialty. We ♥ DIY-ers.    Store hours   Map to store

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If you don’t know the cleaning or maintenance history of the floor you want to recoat, STOP!


Here’s why: if that floor has been cleaned with Murray’s Soap Oil, Orange Glo, or any acrylic waxes like Future or Mop & Glo, a modern polyurethane will NOT bond to it. Even if you screen it aggressively first, you are likely to experience “crawling,” the dreaded “fish-eye,” or just widespread peeling after the finish is applied. *shudder*


There are two types of products you need to test for to determine if you need to chemically strip the floor before recoating.


  • Grease-based residue, like wax or oil-soap.

  • Acrylic waxes or polishes.


Here's how it works...

Testing for grease-based residue, like wax or oil-soap

1. Choose a low-traffic area that has been cleaned thoroughly. Behind a door is a good spot because this area is usually cleaned or coated but wears off slower (by contrast, closets and pantries are not good test areas because those areas are often skipped during the cleaning process).


2. Next, place several drops of mineral spirits (a.k.a. paint thinner) and let them sit for 2-3 minutes on the flooring section.


3. Wipe up the paint thinner with a clean white rag. If you see brown or yellow residue on the rag, or if the residue feels waxy, a contaminant is present. Scrub the entire floor with a small amount of paint thinner and steel wool (buffers are good for this) until all residue is removed.

Testing for acrylic waxes or polishes


1. Find a low-traffic, thoroughly cleaned area (as we mentioned before, behind a door is a good option).


2. Place a large drop of a 1:1 water-ammonia mixture on the floor and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.


3. If the area turns white, a floor polish or wax is likely present. Scrub the entire area with a 4:1 water-ammonia solution until all residue is removed.

Although this means a few extra minutes of work for you, you do NOT want to skip these steps. Unless you personally have been in charge of cleaning and maintenance of this floor for a good long while, you don’t want to risk recoating over all this gunk.

Check out our 10 Commandments of Hardwood Floor Maintenance for more on caring for your floors.

Pete’s is your Minnesota hardwood floor refinishing expert!

Visit our flooring supply and rental store.

186 Fairview Ave North, St. Paul, MN 55104

Store Hours:

The store is open for ONE AT A TIME visits during these hours:

Monday: 9-4
Tuesday: 9-4
Wednesday: 9-4
Thursday: 9-4
Friday: 9-4
Saturday: 9-3
Sunday: Closed

Are you local? Call the store!


Can't get to the store?

For "out-of-staters," we sell some of our favorite products online. 
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Hardwood floor advice so you can refinish your own floors.

Look, we’re not promising to turn you into a flooring professional with one lesson. But we guarantee you will do a better job than that contractor you're thinking about hiring off of Craig's list. More

Pete’s gives free lessons? How does that work?

Here at Pete’s Hardwood Floors, we rent all kinds of floor installation and refinishing machines, but you can learn to run them on an actual floor. Take a test drive with our hardwood rental equipment. More

YouTube logo

Watch videos on Pete's YouTube.

Check out our YouTube channel. Especially the polyurethane application video - it's the best explanation for coating you've ever seen.

Think twice before using stain.

For most do-it-yourselfers, a natural finish will produce the best results. Applying pigment evenly to a large expanse of wood is more challenging than you think. More

Rent the right hardwood rental equipment

ez 8 drum sanderFour out of five floors NEED a drum sander.

We know drum sanders have a bad name, but we can show you how to tame them and use their power for good. And save you time and money into the bargain. Who said floor sander rental can't be fun? More

U-SandWhen drum sanders aren't the answer, try the U-Sand.

The U-Sand won't work for every floor, but if you can't run an edger, the U-Sand might save you. More

Use a buffer to maintain your polyurethane?

No, not to polish it, but to prepare it for a fresh topcoat. If you regularly recoat your floors, you will never have to rent a sander again. Doesn't that sound fabulous? More

bostitch MIIIFS prettyFloor stapler v. cleat nailer: is one better than the other?

It depends on what kind of wood and how thick it is. Cleat nailers are less likely to split the tongues of dense, brittle woods like bamboo and brazilian walnut. More

Did you know there are special sanders, just for radiators?

Sanding under those cast iron radiators is way, way easier than removing them. More

What do I do with all my belongings? Can you rent me a storage unit?

Dart storage logoAs a matter of fact, we can! We have special, negotiated rates through Dart, a local portable storage company. Call 651-683-1219 and tell them Pete's sent you.

Renting sanders twice (and moving your furniture twice as well) is always more expensive than doing the job in one stage, even when you include the cost of storage. Call them now!

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