Easy Ways Buffing a Wood Floor

Buffing a wood floor is the use of a machine that is applied to polish the floor to make it look shinier. Buffing aims to make the wood floor’s surface flat and smooth, enhancing the overall appearance of a room.

So, if you find roughness or unevenness on the surface of your wooden floor, it looks aggravating, right?

Hence, it will be quite dangerous, too, if, at any time, the uneven wood floor surface scratches your skin.

Therefore, know the importance of buffing a wood floor for safety and to add smoothness to the floor when stepped on.

Can I buff my hardwood floors by myself?

Deciding whether to buff hardwood floors by yourself can be a tough decision. Buffing can only remove light marks that have affected the thin protective layer, such as polyurethane, on top of your timber floor. Think of buffing as an exfoliating process.

However, buffing won’t be able to remove deep scratches that are on the surface of the actual wood. But, it can smooth out small imperfections that may have accumulated over time.

If your hardwood floor has a penetrated finish like a stain, it won’t have a surface layer on top that you can buff.

Any scratches on this type of floor will be directly on the timber. You’ll need to refinish the floor by sanding it down or replacing it entirely.

How to Buff Hardwood Floors Yourself

Before starting a project on wooden planks, it is important to assess the condition of the wood.

Buffing can hide minor scratches and blemishes, but more serious damage, such as gouges and splinters, may require refinishing or replacing the flooring.

Once it is determined that buffing is the appropriate option, the project can begin.

Prepare the Floor

Before starting the buffing process, the floor should be prepared by removing any existing oil or wax. This can be done using mineral spirits or a wax-stripping product.

Once the substance is removed, the floor should be cleaned using a damp mop or rag. Alternatively, the floor can be left to dry and then swept.

Gather the necessary supplies and equipment

To proceed with the buffing process, you must gather the necessary supplies and equipment. This includes renting a buffing machine from a home improvement store and purchasing buffing and polishing pads if they are not included in the rental.

Additionally, a finishing product is needed to use with the buffer.

Safety precautions

Buffing hardwood floors is a simple task, but it’s important to take safety precautions such as wearing work gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator mask, as the finishing product can emit toxic fumes and particles that can spread through the air.

Work Strategically

When buffing wood flooring, it is important to follow the instructions on the label for the finishing product and ensure the buffing machine is set to rotate clockwise.

The condition of the buffing pad should be checked and replaced if worn or dirty. Use a sweeping left-to-right motion and start strategically to work backward.

The machine should not stay in one place for too long and repeat the process a second time for optimal results.

Buffing a Wood Floor is NOT the Same as Polishing

As mentioned, buffing a wood floor is a process aimed at using a polishing machine to smooth the surface of a wood floor.

It is a process that involves using a cloth wheel in which the compound content is applied. Generally, the buffing process requires a polishing step as a form of refinement before proceeding to the buffing stage.

As with buffing, polishing also aims to make the wood floor’s surface flat and smooth to enhance its appearance. 

Using the right type of abrasive is important in buffing and polishing wooden floors. If the wrong abrasive is used, it can damage the wood floor.

Polishing involves removing the top layer of the floor finish to eliminate nicks and scuffs, resulting in a shinier and smoother surface that lasts longer.

Buffing, which can be done by hand or machine, fills in nicks and scuffs with a buffing solution, commonly referred to as “floor polish,” and then buffed to a shine.

However, buffing and polishing are not the same. Both finishing processes have their characteristics.

  • Buffing involves applying loose abrasive material to the wheel. Polishing involves applying the abrasive material that is secured to the wheel.
  • Buffing is usually done with low or medium-grit abrasives, while polishing is done with high-grit.
  • Buffing is used to make the wooden floor surface look shinier. Polishing is used to remove scratches and smooth rough surfaces.
  • Buffing removes uneven lines and creates a glossy finish. In contrast, polishing produces a finishing result that needs to be coated.

Things to Consider Before Buffing Your Wooden Floor

Buffing a wood floor is a method that is often used to clean floors in office buildings, home interiors, and other places. The floorings will look cleaner, less dirty, more durable, and resistant to other damages.

However, the buffing method cannot be done by just anyone. When done with inadequate equipment and expertise, new problems will occur on the floorings.

So, basically, before buffing a wood floor, there are things that must be considered first, such as:

  • You will need to hire a skilled and experienced woodworker to minimize further damage to the wood floor.
  • Beforehand, remove any compounds such as oil and other substances that will hinder the buffing process later.
  • Make sure whether buffing a wood floor is needed or not. Since buffing often only works in lifting light stains like polyurethane, penetrating the thin protective layer of your wood floors.

Pros and Cons Buffing a Wood Floor

Apart from its characteristics which make wood floors smoother and look shiny and clean, buffing a wood floor also has several other advantages. There are also several disadvantages of buffing techniques that you need to watch out for.


  • Buffing will make wooden floorings last longer and be more durable.
  • The buffing process can also prevent regular scratches if buffing is done regularly to maintain the integrity of the wood floor.
  • With the reason above, it can be concluded that buffing will improve the quality and appearance of wooden floors and provide protection simultaneously.
  • Buffing a wood floor simply scraps off the top layer with a buffing machine.


  • The buffing machine can only be used by one person, even if two mops rotate simultaneously.
  • Even though it’s a simple process, buffing a wood floor execution requires special skills because it uses a machine that not everyone can use.
  • Buffing can only be done on minor damage (not just a light scratch). For example, if there is damage to the discolored wood floor, then the buffing process will not work.

Buffing or Sanding a wood floor

You may be tempted to smooth out any irregularities in your hardwood floors by sanding them occasionally.

However, this is a wrong path that leads to extra damage. Sanding can quickly damage the surface of a hardwood floor.

While cleaning the wood floor with sandpaper hinders its beauty and makes it more susceptible to other damages.

Therefore, sanding involves a deeper process and much more work than buffing. When only minor scratches or stains must be taken care of, you can buff a hardwood floor. For this reason, your wooden floor will look shiny like new.

Cleaning the wood floor with floor buffer

Running a floor buffer over your hardwood floors may seem like a good idea, but it can cause more harm than good.

Floor buffers are designed to polish and remove wax, but when used on natural hardwood floors, they can scratch and remove the finish.

It is best to use natural substances to clean your hardwood floors without causing damage. One effective and easy solution is to mix a teaspoon of vinegar with warm water.

Vinegar is a gentle cleaner that removes dirt without scratching the wood and does not leave a buildup on the floor as other floor cleaning products can.