Staining Wood without Sanding
Over the years I have learned how to tell whether wood needs to be sanded before staining or painting. I pour a little water over the wood and if it soaks in quickly that wood is ready to stain or paint with no sanding needed. If the water absorbs but it takes awhile, it probably needs light sanding, and if the water does not absorb, well then brace for a lot of sanding to be done. I noticed right when we moved in how our very old hard wood floors immediately absorbed floor cleaner whenever I had to clean them. I knew we needed to refinish them but I wanted to try and stain and polycoat them without sanding.
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To test my method I began in our hallway, which had completely lost all stain and finish. This was the most worn wood so I knew that if my process didn't work here it wouldn't work in any of the other rooms. Obviously, I highly encourage you to spot test this process before trying to apply it on an entire floor.
To begin you'll want to make sure the floor is free of any debris, so vacuum and follow up with a swiffer. Then start applying the stain, remembering to follow all the instructions especially wearing a mask and having proper ventilation. The fumes from wood stain and poly coats are no joke and you can wind up harming yourself or others if you don't properly follow all the instructions. I used Minwax Early American stain because it seemed to be the closest match the remaining stain on the floors. I applied my stain with an old rag by hand because I wanted to control the blending process very closely. To my delight, the first coat went on great so I followed up with a second and third coat on the most worn areas.
Once the stain had dried I began applying the polycoat. Now since I wasn't sure how successful my 'no sanding' methods would be I decided to choose a poly with a satin instead of a high gloss finish. I knew satin would be more forgiving, and give the floors a more modern look. Applying the polycoat to the entire floor is even trickier than staining because you need to have an exit strategy in mind for the process because once the poly goes down you cannot walk on it. It is a very tacky product that needs to dry smoothly to get the desired finish. Because you need to work quickly applying the poly, I used a full size floor pad to apply two coats over the floors, about 4 hours apart.
Then comes the most crucial part, you cannot walk on the floors for a couple days. Even after a couple days you'll want to wear socks to let the floors cure as much as possible. I gave my floors 3 full days to dry with the windows open and fan running and that seemed to work well. Only after they fully cured did I move back furniture and rugs. I'm so thrilled with the results in the hallway and family room that I'll be trying this same technique in the bedrooms next. Scroll down to see all the products we used, and contact us anytime with questions at email@example.com