How to degloss a finish on wood

Written by gail delaney
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How to degloss a finish on wood
If refinishing a wood surface, you must degloss the surface by sanding. (wood image by Marvin Gerste from

Deglossing wood finish is a necessary step for any refinishing project. Whether you're refinishing a wood floor or table, you must remove the old finish. You can hire someone or purchase a chemical that deglosses wood finish, but sanding provides better results, removing scratches and small dings. Sanding is better for the environment, but you should wear protective gear.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Vacuum
  • Tack cloth
  • Drum sander or hand-held sander
  • 35-, 80-, 150-, 220-grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Remove everything in the room if you're going to degloss a floor. If deglossing furniture, remove the piece to a well-ventilated area.

  2. 2

    Clean the wood to remove any dust or debris. Sweep, wipe down or vacuum the wood surface to prevent scratching it when you sand. If you vacuum, do so with a soft-bristle brush attached to the end of the hose.

  3. 3

    Inspect the surface. Remove or pound in any nails or screws that stick out.

  4. 4

    Sand the wood with 35-grit sandpaper. A drum sander works well for floors or a hand-held sander in smaller areas. No matter which sander you use, always keep it moving across the surface. Don't leave it setting still at any time or it will remove too much wood. Overlap each pass you make by 3 or 4 inches.

  5. 5

    Vacuum the sawdust away or use a tack cloth if you're deglossing furniture.

  6. 6

    Repeat Step 4 using 80-grit sandpaper. Next repeat the sanding process with 150-grit sandpaper and then sand one last time using 220-grit sandpaper. Always remove the sawdust after each sanding. Wipe down the floor or furniture with a tack cloth after the final sanding. Remove all the dust in the room or area--if any falls on wet finish, it will ruin the surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear goggles and a respirator while sanding to protect your eyes and lungs from sawdust.
  • Hang a piece of plastic to cover any open door areas. This helps prevent dust from scattering or drifting throughout the house.

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