Stripping Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

Each time you sand your wood floor, it gets thinner. And at a point, it can get too thin to be sanded for renovations. Luckily, there are alternatives to sanding. You can use chemicals to strip your hardwood floors. In this post, we are going to discuss the procedure of stripping hardwood floors without sanding. Keep reading and check back for new WFC content daily!

Things You Will Need

  • Chemical stripper
  • A filling knife
  • A few wash bottles
  • Some scrub pads

Chemical stripping is not that complicated. The basic idea is a simple one. You apply a chemical stripper, loosen the finish, and remove it. No prior experience is needed. Just carefully read the instructions provided below, and take action accordingly. Follow these steps and you will get the job done.

Step 1 

Before you get started, make sure you are heading in the right direction. Do you have the type of wood floor that will benefit from chemical stripping? If it is not really too thin, sanding may be a better option than chemical stripping. If there are large areas that have turned grey, sanding baby is still needed even if you strip chemically.

Also, consider the cost of chemical stripping. If your floor is really worn out, replacing the floor may be a good idea. However, if you think chemical stripping is the best way to go, move on to the next step.

Step 2

To make the process easier, clean the whole floor. If any repairs are needed, resolve the issues. Remember, for stripping hardwood floors without sanding, cleaning the floor is of utmost importance. For this use a vacuum cleaner, a piece of clean cloth, or both. It depends on how clean or dirty your floor is.

Step 3

Choose a high-quality stripper and apply it to a small area to test the effectiveness of the stripper. For this test, one coat of finish is enough. Allow the stripper to sit for about 15 minutes and then notice if the stripper has loosened the finish. Go ahead if you find the finish loose and easily removable with a piece of cloth or a paper towel.

Step 4

As you apply the stripper, use a barrier cream to protect your hands, or wear a pair of gloves. Do not let the stripper come in contact with your skin. The stripper may feel irritating.  

One gallon of stripper is enough for a floor measuring 100 square feet. Wait 15 minutes and reapply the stripper again. Make sure no spot remains bare. Once you have covered the entire floor, wait about 15 minutes

Step 5

Now you will have to strip the floor. With a filling knife, strip the wood without scratching it. You can find a filling knife at a hardware store. This knife has a tapered blade that makes stripping super easy. Compared to a putty knife, a filling knife is much more convenient for stripping hardwood floors without sanding.

Remove the finish with the knife at least twice, with an interval of 15 minutes. The longer you allow the stripper to sit on the wood the better the stripper will work. Once you have removed the finish, bare wood will be exposed.

Step 6

Once all the finish has been loosened, remove the stripper completely. It is an easy part. Just make sure you do not scratch the wood. Consider using a wide taping knife to remove the stripper. Scoop the finish and put it in a bucket.

Step 7

To remove the residual stripper and scrub the floor, use some nylon rubbing pads. They do not have to be fancy. Use some inexpensive ones. These pads are not made for stripping hardwood floors without sanding; they are usually manufactured for pot-scrubbing. But these pads can be very handy for scrubbing the floor without damaging it.

There is another advantage of using nylon rubbing pads: they absorb the remaining stripper and thus make the task easier for you.

Step 8

Now you have to apply some odorless mineral spirits to the floor. They come in plastic wash bottles. Soak the floor with the spirits and scrub it with a clean pad. Do not make an attempt to scrub a large area at a time. Do it in small chunks. To scrub a 20 square feet floor, you will need a few pads.

Step 9

There is still some stripper left on the floor. Now use some paper towels to remove the remaining solvent. The towels will absorb all the mineral spirits. Now your floor is wet but clean.

For stripping hardwood floors without sanding, complete removal of the stripper is important. If some stripper is stuck in holes or gaps, irrigate the stripper with some spirits and then remove the solvent.

Step 10

Do the same thing for the entire floor, row by row. And then let it dry for a couple of days. Now your floor does not have any protection from dirt or water. So, do not walk on the floor. The mineral spirits are inflammable, so do not strike a match nearby.

Step 11

By the time the floor has dried, the color will appear lighter. Please note that the stripper is not capable of removing a pigmented stain or dye.

The floor may appear somewhat rough and hairy because the solvent will raise the grain. You can use a floor buffer to remove it.

Step 12

For a darkened floor, there is a good way to even out the color. Just apply a light-dark stain. The application process is very easy, and you can apply it several times to adjust the color.

Final Thoughts

If your wood floors are too thin to be sanded again, there are still ways to renovate the floors. For stripping hardwood floors without sanding, chemical stripping is popular among both professionals and DIY enthusiasts. If you have some free time and a little bit of commitment, you can strip your hardwood floors, even if you have no prior experience doing it.