Many people would like to revive and give a fresh new look to their floor without actually sanding the floor. This is ideal for floors that are not significantly damaged. This means there are no deep scratches or dents, things that can only be removed by taking off a millimeter or 2 from the surface of the wood. Everyone wants to know how to refinish a wood floor without sanding.
To refinish a floor without sanding, you need a floor that’s already in quite a good condition. Thoroughly clean the floor with a pH-neutral cleaner and lightly rub it down to provide a key for the next coat. Use a finish compatible with the existing finish.
You may otherwise be on a budget and just want to spruce up your floor. If either of these is true then read on!
1. Clean your floor.
You need to either use a pH neutral floor cleaner or just warm water! Personally I would opt for the warm water and get on my hands and knees and scrub. Be sure to not drench the floor, it’s important that you only use a damp mop or rag so as to not cause any water damage.
2. Identify whether your floor has been finished with an oil or a lacquer based product.
It’s not easy to distinguish between an oiled floor or a lacquered floor for the non-professional. Ideally, you would know from when the floor was fitted. Here are some differences that can help you tell the difference. Oiled or Hardwax Oiled floors tend to wear faster on the surface. They also tend to be slightly more of an orange color and slightly darker. Oiled floors also stain very easily, if you spill a drink on it, it usually leaves a mark.
Lacquered floors tend to be lighter in terms of color. The surface doesn’t wear quite so quickly and easily. The surface is usually shinier. More here.
If the floor you have has an oil-based finish, I recommend using a ‘Hardwax Oil.’
If your floor is lacquer based, I recommend using a Polyurethane lacquer (not acrylic or part acrylic).
To find out what lacquers and hardwax oils I use (as well as recommendations for US readers) click here.
3. Lightly abrade (sand) the surface of your floor.
Do this with a buffing machine using a 120-grit mesh (or a few 120-grit disks under the pad) or with just a 120-grit bit of sandpaper by hand. You don’t need a buffing machine, I often use 120 paper by hand myself (when buffing before the final coat on a floor that has been stained, for example).
Rub the floor down with the wood grain (as seen in the video above). Make sure you do this methodically to not leave any areas unabraded. Please don’t put too much pressure on the sandpaper, you’re just keying the surface, not trying to remove material. The purpose of this is to key the surface to allow the new coat to bond to the floor and prevent the new coat from peeling off.
4. Vacuum the floor.
Again make sure you do this slowly and methodically, going around the edge of the floor with the pipe of the hoover to ensure the floor is free of dust.
5. Lacquer or oil the floor.
You can learn how to lacquer or oil a floor here. If you are lacquering, you should use a medium pile roller for correct coverage, whereas if you are oiling, I recommend using a short pile roller.
That’s it! Be sure to check the instructions on the product for drying times before walking on the floor or replacing furniture.
This is a great, cheap, and easy solution for people that want to know how to refinish a wood floor without sanding. It returns that new appearance to the floor.
If you have done this, please let me know how you got on, or if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.
Telling the difference between lacquer and oil.
I get countless emails and comments on my youtube videos from people wanting to know the difference between a floor that has been oiled and a floor that has been lacquered.
Firstly I would like to clear up on definitions. Americans can call alcohol or other acid/solvent-based products ‘oil-based,’ whereas in the UK, we call it solvent-based.
When I say oil, I mean hardwax oil which contains no polyurethane or acrylic. Examples are Osmo Hardwax Oil, Treatex Hardwax Oil, and Blanchon Hardwax Oil. Many wood floors are finished with hardwax oil.
So let’s say you want to refinish your floor using the method outlined in How To Refinish a Wood Floor Without Sanding. Ideally, you really want to identify whether or not the floor has been finished with a wax/oil-based product or a polyurethane/acrylic-based product.
If the floor is anything other than pine, beech, maple, oak, or any other light wood, my color descriptions aren’t going to mean much.
But generally, oiled floors tend to go a lot darker and orangey. Even when they are first finished, they are darker and more orange than lacquered floorsh.
Oil-based finishes tend to matt down a lot more in high-traffic areas, whereas lacquered floors have individual scratches. So in a doorway for example, on an oiled floor, there appears to be no ‘sheen’ or reflective surface; it’s all matted down from wear and tear.
And last of all, oiled floors tend to feel a little more rubbery or waxy. This is subtle. This distinction, along with the other descriptions, is pretty subjective and may mean nothing without seeing many different floors. I’m just doing the best I can to answer a common question.
If, for any reason, you cannot identify what is on your floor, it is possible to go ahead with polyurethane; it’s not ideal. I have seen oiled floors that have been lacquered and generally, it’s not too much of a problem. Just make sure you key it thoroughly with the 120grit, so you don’t get delamination.