Stripping, Staining And Polishing Wood Floors

Technical Procedures Disclaimer

Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.


We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.



  1.  This procedure includes guidance on stripping, staining and refinishing floors.
  2.  See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:
    1.  Safety Precautions
    2. Historic Structures Precautions
    3. Submittals
    4. Quality Assurance
    5.  Delivery, Storage and Handling
    6.  Project/Site Conditions
    7. Sequencing and Scheduling
    8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding) These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).


  1. Existing Conditions: Determine that surfaces to which finishes are to be applied are even, smooth, sound, clean, dry and free from defects affecting proper application. Correct or report defective surfaces to Contracting Officer.



  1.  Hillyard Chemical Company 800/365-1555
  2. The Sherwin Williams Company 101 Prospect Ave. N.W. Cleveland, OH 44101 216/566-2000


  1.  Sealer: Penetrating type, pliable, wood-hardening finish/sealer such as "Penetrating Seal #21" (Hillyard Chemical Company), or approved equal.
  2.  Stain: Penetrating, permanent oil-based stain such as "Oil Stain" (Sherwin Williams), or approved equal, colored to match existing floor stain.
  3. Clean, soft cloths
  4. Fasteners: Nails and screws, select material, type, size and finish to match original installation.
  5. Sandpaper: 3 grades, finest grade 00.


  1.  Hand-held Orbital Sanders (NO ROTARY OR DISK SANDERS)
  2.  Machine belt or orbital sander (NO ROTARY OR DISK SANDERS)
  3.  Stiff bristle brushes



  1. Surface Preparation:
    1.  Carefully remove any floor mounted elements and store in location selected by the Contracting Officer.
    2.  Protect floor borders from damage during sanding and other floor refinishing operations.
    3. Machine sand the wood floor to remove stains, indentations and old finish. NOTE: BELT AND ORBITAL SANDERS SHOULD ONLY BE USED BY EXPERIENCED PERSONNEL. THEY WORK VERY QUICKLY AND IT IS EASY TO DAMAGE THE WOOD SUBSTRATE IF THEY ARE NOT USED CAREFULLY. For additional guidance on stripping wood floors and precautions to take when operating sanding equipment on wood, see 06300-02-R, 06400-10-R and 09910-01-S.
      1. Sand floor in direction of wood grain. Remove only the amount of wood necessary to remove old finish but no more than 1/16" depth.
      2.  Use hand-held sanders at edges of floor.
      3. Final sanding shall be with 00 grade sandpaper.
      4.  Vacuum clean, remove sanding dusted with tack cloth, and immediately apply stain finish.
      5. Do not allow traffic on floor until final finishing is complete.


  1. Apply stain to wood floor to obtain a finish to match the original.
  2. Apply floor sealer (two coats) in accordance with manufacturer's printed instructions, including machine buffing with steel wool as recommended by the manufacturer.
  3. Reinstall floor mounted accessories in original locations. Protect wood flooring during reinstallation.
  4. For guidance on cleaning and maintaining woodwork and wood floors, see 06400-02-P, 06400-01-R, and 06400-01-P.