How to Restore Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

Unless your hardwood floors are significantly worn, scratched, or damaged, you can store them without sanding. And there are multiple ways to do that. In this post, we are going to discuss two common methods. Today on WFC, Read on to learn how to restore hardwood floors without sanding.

Method 1: Buffing and Recoating

The first method is buffing or recoating, which involves abrading the coat before you refinish the floors. Below is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Check the floor to see if it has a wax finish

Recoating is not an option if the floor has a wax finish, rather than lacquer or oil. In the case of a wax finish, buffing and recoating will simply leave ugly bubbles. Here is a simple way to check: 

  • Find an inconspicuous, small spot and apply mineral spirits or thinner there.
  • Take a white rug and wipe the spot. The finish may be wax if the rug turns yellow or brown.
  • If it is a wax finish, you will need a buffing machine to polish the floor. And if it is not a wax finish, then go ahead.

Step 2: Clear the room and make repairs if necessary

Clean the room with a broom and pound protruding floorboard nails with a hammer. To fill the holes, use some wood putty. Allow it to dry for a few hours. After that, sand the spots lightly.

Step 3: Thoroughly clean the floor

Sweep the floor and then vacuum if needed. Then mop the floor with a commercial wood floor cleaner. It will remove contaminants. Let the floor dry.

Step 4: Abrade your floor

Abrade the floor lightly. You just have to scuff the surface. The point is to remove imperfections and prepare the floor for a new coat.

You can do that by hand or use a buffing machine. Do not apply too much pressure; buff the floor lightly.

Step 5: Vacuum the floor thoroughly

Sweeping is not recommended at this stage. The reason is that if you sweep the floor, the dust will get trapped into the cracks. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust thoroughly. Attach soft bristles to the machine.

Step 6: Apply the lacquer or oil finish

Now you are getting into the real thing: applying the finish. Here is how to restore hardwood floors without sanding.

Learn whether the floor has a lacquer-based or oil-based finish. If the finishes are incompatible, you may have to deal with issues like discoloration or delamination.  Oiled floors wear faster, especially in areas that are heavily trafficked. These areas also look duller or darker.

Wear a pair of shoes. To deal with noxious vapors, cover your nose with a respirator. To apply the finish along the edges, use a brush.  And for the center use a long-handled roller.

Once you have applied the first coat, wait at least 3 years.

Step 7: Apply the second coat

Drying time, to some extent, depends on the particular brand you are using. However, as a rule of thumb, you should allow it to dry for at least 3 hours.

After that, apply the second coat the way you applied the first one. Do not move the furniture back just after the finish has dried. Ideally, you should wait a few days.

Method 2: Chemical Etching Kit

Now you know the method of restoring hardwood floors by buffing and recoating. If you still want to learn how to restore hardwood floors without sanding, here is another method for you. Follow these steps for using a chemical etching kit.

Step 1: Determine if it is the best way to restore your floor

This method is suitable for a worn and scratched hardwood floor, but if the floor is too damaged, it will probably need sanding before you refinish it. This method does not require buffing the floor. You just have to apply the solution.

This method is not for floors with a wax finish. To know if it is a wax-finished floor, do the test we have already described in the first section.

Step 2 Purchase a refinishing kit

You will find a refinishing kit at a large hardware store or home center. You can visit some online stores to know which one is a good choice for you. If you think chemical etching is too expensive, you can still consider using the buffing method.

Step 3: Gather the materials and tools your kit requires

In general, you will need a paint tray, bucket, sponge mop, paintbrush, a shop vacuum, shoe covers, painter’s tape, abrasive pads, and some other materials.

Step 4: Clean the floor

Cleaning the floor is necessary, but it may not be enough. Ideally, you should clear the entire room and make it dust-free. The point is to prevent any dust particles from landing on the wet finish. Here is another thing to remember: the finish may dry too quickly if it receives direct sunlight. So, close the curtains while the finish dries.

Step 5: Roughen the floor surface by applying the liquid etcher

Before you apply the etcher, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The kit comes with an abrasive pad. Firmly scrub the pad into the grain. When you are done, allow the floor to dry, for at least 30 minutes.

Step 6: Mop the floor

You have probably already figured out how to restore hardwood floors without sanding because the next steps are intuitive. To mop the floor, you will have to use a solution. You can make the solution by mixing two tablespoons of a liquid dishwasher with one gallon of warm water. It will neutralize the etcher and remove the remaining residue.

Step 7: Smooth the scratches

Find scratches if there are any, and smooth them by applying a matching stain, with an artist’s brush. Dry the spots with a hairdryer, and then seal them with the finish that comes with the kit.

Step 8: Apply the finish

Do it with the applicator pad that comes with the kit. Again, read the manufacturer’s instructions before you get started. If the finish is left to stand for a few minutes, it can become gummy. So, to smooth out the bubbles and drips, you can get an assistant.

And when you are done, allow the finish to dry. Do not put down a rug right away. Wait for at least a couple of weeks.

Final Thoughts

Sanding is a good way to restore hardwood floors, but the process is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Sanding may not be appropriate if the floor is too thin. Luckily, there are easier alternatives. We have discussed the two most common methods, and we hope you have found the discussion helpful.