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    3 Easy and Inexpensive DIY Ways to Refinish Your Rental’s Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

    When it comes to refinishing your hardwood floors without fully sanding, restaining and resealing them, you can opt for a following a chemical abrasion kit, buffing and applying polyurethane, or using a revitalizer.

    HOME MAINTENANCE & REPAIR BLOG | ALL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

    Allison Rebecca Penn

    on Tue Aug 20 2019 | 15 min. read

    How to Refinish Hardwood Floors Without Sanding | APM

    The hardwood floors in your rental property take a beating. Between tenant turnover (moved furniture), general wear and tear, and the presence of pets (if you allow them), it’s likely that after a few years of tenants, your once-sparkling floors are far from pristine and could probably use a touch up.

    Most property owners think that to get that new-again sheen they have to sand down their floors, restain them, and reseal them. However, if the wear is fairly surface-level (normal wear, scratches in the finish and only a few deeper scratches that gouge that wood itself), it’s easy to refresh your hardwood floors in one day and save yourself from the mess, labor, and expense of sanding off your existing finish.

    3 Approaches to Refinishing Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

    Use a store-bought chemical abrasion kit

    Buff and recoat floors with polyurethane

    Use a revitalizer

    Pro tip: When you make the decision to touch up your floors yourself, it’s best to do it between tenants—that way, you’re not moving furniture in and out, nor are you forcing your residents to relocate for 48 hours. Read along to find out if this is the best way to renew or restore your floors.

    Figure Out What Kind of Hardwood Floors You’re Working With

    Before you dive into any DIY home project, it’s important to know the materials you’re working with. This is especially important if you’re not the original owner. Different floor materials or treatments will have an impact on how you are able to refinish your floors, and you want to make sure you take the best and most effective approach.

    Refinishing Prefinished and Laminated Hardwood Floors

    Whether you have traditional hardwoods, prefinished wood, or laminated wood, restoring without sanding is a practical solution. Though you can sand your traditional hardwoods, it’s difficult or even impossible to sand prefinished or laminated wood floors. Why? Laminated floors (either glue-down or floating) only have a thin layer of attractive wood veneer over plywood, so you can’t sand these floors more than twice without damaging them and exposing the plywood.

    As for traditional hardwoods, forgoing the sanding method saves you a lot of time, energy, and money (from tool rentals like sanders and a professional grade vacuum).

    Dealing with Floors That Have Been Waxed

    Unfortunately, if your floor has any kind of wax on it, the new finish won’t bond. Even if the floor

    is worn, wax will remain in areas that have low foot traffic. Find a spot that doesn’t have a lot of wear, like a corner or behind a door, and drop some mineral spirits as a test. But what are mineral spirits? They’re actually a petroleum-derived clear liquid solvent you can get at a home improvement store.

    After a few minutes, wipe the solution with a clean white rag. If the rag wipes clean, you’re all set. But if any brown or shiny residue comes off, you have wax. Chances are if your floor’s finish was applied before the 1970s (before polyurethane was used as a sealant), your floor is coated with wax, old-fashioned varnish, or shellac. If you do have wax, you still don’t have to sand it down for a clean and shiny finish. Consider buffing on a fresh wax coat to get that shine, albeit temporary, as well as to continue protecting your floors from wear and tear.

    However, wax isn’t the only material to be wary of. Your floors could have residue from other household chemicals like furniture polish, glass cleaner, insecticide (from pest control professionals), wallpaper paste, paint, and other chemical cleaners that would prevent the adhesion for a new finish. Conduct a similar test with mineral spirits in a few other areas because you want to ensure your floor is in the best shape for adhesion before you get started.

    When Full-On Sanding Is the Best Approach

    Sometimes, going the sand-free method just isn’t going to work. As previously mentioned, if you have a wax-finished floor or find other chemicals that would prevent a few finish from bonding, you’d want to sand all of that off and start fresh.

    Does the floor have many deep scratches and dents that penetrate the finish as well as the wood? What about high-traffic areas where the finish is completely worn away or flaking off? Your best bet is sanding so you can get the cleanest new finish. Though there’s no harm in adding a new finish to floors with this amount of wear because it will protect the floor, a new coat may accentuate existing deep gouges and won’t look flawless. Also, using the chemical etching process (more to come on this below) on bare wood will stain it.

    In the case of water damage or pet stains that have penetrated through the finish to the actual flooring, a new coat of finish will not hide (or remove) these spots. The optimal way to remove these unsightly stains is through sanding.

    When in Doubt, Always Test Before You Do Anything

    This is the most effective way to make sure the finishes you plan on using will stick to the floor. The last thing you want to do is go through any type of process just to have your new finish flake or not bond properly, leading to a larger expense, more time spent, and a bigger clean-up. Save yourself the time in advance by truly checking to see if there’s anything going on with your floors that would prevent a new finish from working effectively. Tape off a small section and roughen up the floor with a sanding screen to test your refinishing materials. If it flakes by lightly scraping a coin against it or resembles a bumpy texture similar to an orange peel, sanding is the best route.

    Source : www.allpropertymanagement.com

    How to Refinish Hardwood Floors the Easy Way

    Need advice on wood floor refinishing? Read this step-by-step guide to help you clean and refinish hardwood floors without sanding down to the bare wood.

    How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

    Clean and refinish hardwood floors without sanding down to the bare wood.

    By the Editors

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    Project details

    SKILL

    3 out of 5 Moderate

    Mastering the buffer takes some practice

    COST

    About $200

    ESTIMATED TIME

    One day

    Q: My oak floors are covered in scratches. Do I have to sand down to bare wood to get rid of them?

    —Susan Bankhead, Meridian, Idaho

    A: The Editors of This Old House reply: Not necessarily. If the scratches don't go all the way through to the wood, you can scuff-sand your floors with a buffer and apply a fresh coat or two of finish. The hardwood floor refinishing process is easier and less expensive than sanding down to bare wood and takes less time. In a few hours, your floors will look as good as new.

    The job requires using a buffer, which you can rent at a home center, and a vacuum to suck up dust. Buffing hardwood floors can be tricky, so if you've never used a buffer before, practice in the middle of the room until you get a feel for how to maneuver it.

    Once the finish is roughed up, we put on a water-based polyurethane, which can be recoated in 3 hours. Oil-based polys are cheaper, but each coat takes about 8 hours to dry. With either finish, we recommend a fresh coat every two years or whenever the floor looks worn. Stick to that routine and your floors will never wear out.

    Pro Tip to Prevent Discoloration: Sometimes the tannins from your wood floor react to water-based polyurethane, causing discoloration. To avoid this, apply a base coat before applying your water-based poly. Smooth the base coat out evenly around the edges with a paint brush. (Don’t brush too fast or you may create bubbles, which will show in the finish.) Smooth out the rest of the floor with a synthetic floor finish applicator and give your base coat about 2 hours to dry.

    Here are some additional common questions we’ve come across:

    How much does it cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors yourself?

    If you plan on DIY-ing your hardwood floors, expect to pay a little less than $500 per 275 sq. feet. The average range tends to be between $1,000 to $2,400.

    The total cost includes renting sanding equipment along with purchasing sanding pads, wood stain, brushes and finish.

    Is it cheaper to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

    You can almost always bet that refinishing is cheaper than replacing hardwood floors. With the latter, you’d be paying not only for the new wood but also for the labor of ripping out the old wood and toting it away.

    What Are The Steps To Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

    Read these 6 steps for refinishing the wood floors in your home:

    1. Clean the Floor with a Hardwood Floor Cleaner

    Photo by Reena Bammi

    Remove all the furniture, and spray the floor with a hardwood flooring cleaner or your own mix of 10 parts water to 1 part white vinegar.

    Gently wipe the floor with a terry-cloth mop or a towel wrapped around a mop head.

    Close the windows and doors to keep dust contained in the room you're sanding.

    2. Prep the Perimeter

    Photo by Reena Bammi

    Using 180-grit sandpaper, hand-sand the perimeter of the room and any nooks that the buffer can't reach.

    Rub with the grain 4 to 6 inches out from the baseboard, working over each board until the finish dulls and a powder forms.

    Pro Tip: Don't use a sanding block for refinishing hardwood—it might miss uneven spots in the floor.

    3. Scuff-sand the Floor Finishing

    Photo by Reena Bammi

    Stick a maroon buffing pad to the buffer, and put on a dust mask.

    Move the buffer from side to side across the floor in the direction of the grain, overlapping each course by 6 inches.

    The old finish turns to powder as you go, so it's easy to see the areas you've covered.

    Keep the buffer moving at all times, but stop every 5 minutes or so and vacuum the pad.

    4. Vacuum and Tack

    Source : www.thisoldhouse.com

    How to Refinish Old Wood Floors Without Sanding

    The best way to refinish wood floors without sanding is to scuff the floor with a buffer and sanding screen, then apply two coats of new finish. You can also use a chemical to etch the existing finish, then apply new finish. However, the first method gives better results.

    How to Refinish Old Wood Floors Without Sanding

    By Chris Deziel, Building Contractor

    Updated October 4, 2021

    Reviewed by Philip Schmidt, Remodeling Expert

    Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

    Image Credit: © by Martin Deja/Moment/GettyImages

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    Sanding hardwood floors is a big, messy and expensive job, and there you have three good reasons to avoid doing it. Even if you have the budget for it and can take a vacation while the work proceeds, your floor may not be a good candidate for sanding. It may be over-sanded, or it may have a veneer that's too thin to sand. Luckily, you have options other than leaving the floor as it is or replacing it.

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    The best way to refinish wood floors without sanding is to use a technique called screen and recoat. This involves scuffing up the finish with a floor buffer and applying a refresher coat of finish. Some pros refer to this as sandless refinishing, but that can also refer to a different method that substitutes a chemical etcher for the buffer. The former is a proven floor restoration method, while the latter is the "Hail Mary" pass of floor care. It may work, and it may not.

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    To Sand or Use Sandless Refinishing

    If you have an old worn-out laminate floor, sandless refinishing is for you, particularly the chemical method. It's really the only option you have, other than replacing the floor. Sandless isn't always a good idea for solid wood floors, though. It won't get out deep scratches or stains and it won't help repair cupping or crowning. You can use this method to darken the color of the floor, but if you want to lighten the color, you have to sand.

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    If your floor has been over-sanded or has a thin veneer, you can usually tell by removing a heat register or a door threshold so you can see a cross-section of the wood. Another way to tell is to press on the edges of a floorboard with your finger. If you feel the wood give, or if, by observing the cross-section of a board, you can see that the surface is very thin, you shouldn't attempt to sand the floor.

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    The Screen-and-Recoat Method

    This floor restoration method requires a floor buffer with a sanding screen to scuff the old finish of the floor, which is why it's called a screen and recoat. After mopping the floor and letting it dry, you use the buffer to run a 120-grit sanding screen over the surface. You shouldn't use any screen coarser than that because you don't want to wear through the finish; you just want to smooth out the surface scratches.

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    After screening, you vacuum the dust, tack the floor and lay two coats of clear floor finish. If you apply a waterborne finish, which dries in a couple of hours, you can complete the entire operation in a day. You'll raise some dust during this procedure, but it's negligible compared to the dust you raise by sanding the floor.

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    Using a Hardwood Floor Refinishing Kit

    Everything you need for the chemical etch method comes in a hardwood floor refinishing kit. It includes a chemical etcher, a clear finish and the tools you need for applying them.

    The etcher ​must​ be applied to a clean floor. You can use the tools that come in the kit to apply it, but a paint pad works just as well. Like an acid, this product de-glosses the existing finish, which is necessary for the new finish to adhere. After the etching compound dries, you apply the clear finish, also using a paint pad or the application tool in the kit.

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    Pete's Harwood Floors: What the Heck is a Screen and Recoat?

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