How To Restore Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

September 18, 2022

Inspecting the wood floor condition for refinishing.

Of course, you can only remove deep dents and scratches by sanding off one millimeter of materials off the wood surface. As such, you will need to sand the floors if there are deep dents and scratches.

As a prerequisite for refinishing hardwood floors without sanding, the floors should be in relatively good condition and without noticeable deep dents. If such is the condition of your hardwood floors, you can always sidestep the sanding process and proceed with the refinishing process using an excellent finishing product.

Steps on Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors without Sanding

If it is your first time refinishing your hardwood floors, you might be a bit tentative on which steps to take to refinish the floors. It will be best, therefore, to learn the following concise steps on how to restore your hardwood floors without sanding:

Step 1: Clean The Floor

At the onset, it will be best to clean the floor before restoring your chosen refinishing product. You can clean hardwood floors using a pH-neutral floor cleaning detergent. You can also use warm water to clean the floor. I would indeed suggest that you go for warm water. 

Scrub the floors well to do away with dirt and stains accumulated through the years. Refrain from drenching the floor, and only use a damp rag or mop to prevent damage due to over-drenching of the hardwood floor.

Step 2: Identify the Previous Finish Used on the Floor.

While cleaning the floor, you should identify the previous finish used on the floor. Is it a lacquer-based or oil-based product? If you’re not a professional, you may find it hard to figure out the old finish used on the floor. So, it will be best to learn the difference between these two products. First, hard wax oiled floors tend to exhibit faster wearing off on the surface. You will also notice that floors finished in oil-based products tend to have an orange hue. These floors are also a bit darker. Moreover, oiled floors also stain quickly once spilled drinks land on them, leaving a mark. 

On the other hand, lacquered floors tend to have lighter hues. Besides, floors—treated with lacquered products—do not wear fast. Furthermore, they exhibit more sheen. However, if you have used an oil-based product on your hardwood floors, you can refinish it with hard wax oil. Yet, if your floor got previously treated with a lacquer-based product, you can use Polyurethane lacquer to refinish it.

Step 3: Abrade the Floor’s Surface a Bit

A light sanding would do the trick to make the floor ready for refinishing. You can use a buffing machine equipped with 120-grit mesh for this purpose. You can also use 120-grit sandpaper for this purpose and sand the floor manually. 

You can rub the floor down along the wood’s grain. Ensure that you do the sanding methodically without leaving any spot un-sanded. Don’t apply too much pressure when sanding the floors. Keep the sanding light. This light sanding would allow the wood to absorb the new coat and prevent peeling off.

Step 4: Remove the Dust by Vacuuming the Floor

After sanding, you can’t just leave the dust floating around or stuck inside the gaps and crevices of the floors. You need to remove them and clean the floor thoroughly using a vacuum. Make the vacuuming process methodical by systematically moving around the hardwood floor.

Step 5: Preparing the Refinishing Product

If you opt for lacquering, you should use a roller (medium pile) for proper floor coverage. If you would go for an oil-based product, you should use a short pile roller. Before applying, you should check the instructions on how to apply the product. Moreover, you should check the drying time recommended for the product.

Step 6: Check for the Adhesion of the Finish

After applying the refinishing coat, you can wait for a day before you start walking on the floor. But before using the floor, you should inspect the floor to see if there is complete adhesion of the coating. 

You can check if the coat has adhered to the floor using a coin. If it flakes off or separates from the previous finish, you have an adhesion issue. In such a case, you need to sand the old finish off and start again with the abovementioned steps.

Distinguishing Between Oil and Lacquer on Restoring hardwood Floor

As a newbie in refinishing wood, you need to learn how to figure out the oil-based from lacquer-based products. It usually refers to hard wax oil that does not contain acrylic or polyurethane contents when speaking of oil-based products. Examples of oil-based products include Treatex Hardwax Oil, Osmo Hardwax Oil, and Blanchon Hardwax Oil. It will be good to note that most floors got finished using hard wax oil. 

You need to learn to distinguish between lacquer and oil-based finish because you will need to decide beforehand which type of product you will use. Likewise, it will be good to note that oiled floors tend to have darker or more orangey looks. You will notice this darker hue right after applying the finish.

Moreover, you will notice that oil-based finished floors tend to get more scratches and wear than lacquered floors. You will see this wearing off in areas that receive heavy foot traffic, like in a doorway. Oiled floors also exhibit a waxy and rubbery texture. 

Nevertheless, if you still could not figure out the previous finish of your hardwood floor, you can go ahead and apply polyurethane. It might not be the ideal coat for your floors. But before applying it, you should ensure that you sand it well using 120-grit sandpaper to prevent delamination.

Sanding vs. Sandless Refinishing

If you got a worn-out laminate floor, you could refinish them without sanding. It is your only option for refinishing the floor aside from replacing the old floor. But if you have a solid wood floor, refinishing without sanding would never be a good idea. You can’t do away with stains and deep scratches without sanding. Moreover, you can’t repair crowning or cupping without sanding.

Nevertheless, if the floor you have features a thin veneer or has seen too much sanding in the past, you should never sand the floor again. Otherwise, you might completely damage the floor. As mentioned above, if the floor doesn’t have many damages or deep dents, you can forgo the sanding process and go on with the refinishing process without sanding.

Screen-and-Recoat Method

Another method you can employ to restore your old hardwood floor is the screen-and-recoat method. This method necessitates buffing the floor using a sanding screen to scuff the floor’s old finish. Hence, it got referred to as the screen-and-recoat method

To employ this method, you can start by mopping the hardwood floor and drying it. You can buff the floor using a 120-grit sanding screen over the floor surface. Refrain from using a coarser screen because you might sand through the old finish if you do so. 

You simply want to smoothen out the scratches on the wood surface. Of course, you might make billows of dust while screen sanding. But the dust you will produce will not be as much as when you are sanding the floor. 

After doing this, you can start vacuuming the dust and tacking the floor. Then, you can lay two coats of clear finish. If you would apply a water-based finish, you can let it dry for a few hours.

Avail Yourself of a Refinishing Kit

You can avail of the refinishing kit that comes complete with all the needed things you would use when refinishing hardwood floors. This kit usually comes with a chemical etcher, tools, and a clear finish. You should apply the etcher onto the clean floor. So, make sure you thoroughly clean the floor. 

When applying the etcher, you can use the tools provided in the kit. You can also use a paint pad. The etcher de-glosses the old finish. In this way, the new finish will adhere to the floor. Once the etching compound dries out, you can coat the floors using an application tool or a paint pad.

Can You Recoating or Refinishing Without Sanding Your Hardwood Floors?

If you look at the recoating job, you will find that it entails a two-step process. First, you need to sand lightly the wood surface utilizing a floor buffing machine and a sanding screen. Afterward, you apply the topcoat finish. This two-step process might look a bit easy. Yet, it would require you to ensure that the new coat will adhere to the old one. If the floor got finished with a polyurethane coat, you would indeed encounter no problem with adhesion.

Nevertheless, you might encounter an adhesion problem if it got waxed before. Wax is the leading cause of the adhesion problem. Once the floor got waxed, you can’t guarantee that the new coat will adhere. You can do your best, of course, to strip the wax off. But if you don’t wholly sand the old finish off, you can’t assure yourself that the new coat will adhere. So, you need to test for adhesion. 

If the floors got finished before 1970, chances are, the floors got coated with a hard wax coat. So, you will indeed encounter an adhesion problem when applying the new topcoat. Yet, it will help if you do not wallow in misery simply because you will be required to sand off the coat thoroughly. If you find the floor without many dents, you can rewax the floor and buff them afterward to restore it to its old glory. 

Other products may cause adhesion problems aside from wax. For example, cleaning products can leave a waxy or oily residue. Grease and bug spray likewise can cause adhesion problems. Even spilled wallpaper paste can cause adhesion problems. 

Lastly, you should not expect the new topcoat to solve the floor issues quickly. Some problems like deep dents and gouges, scratches and burns, color variations, and animal stains might require you to engage in specific fixes. You might also be required to engage in complete sanding of the floor.


You would indeed want to sidestep the sanding process when restoring hardwood floors because it is indeed very inconvenient and time-consuming. First, you need to protect sensitive furniture from dust because the sanding process will produce dust billows. Cleaning after sanding is also tiring and enervating. So, if you can skirt around this process, you would gladly do. 

If your floor, however, doesn’t exhibit deep dents and scratches. You can forgo the sanding process and proceed with the recoating of the hardwood floor. You only need to follow the abovementioned steps, and you’ll be good to go.

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