How To Seal Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

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The process of sanding hardwood floors is time-consuming, messy, and expensive, so it’s not surprising that most homeowners try to skip it when refinishing their floors.

And even if you don’t mind hiring a professional to get the job done for you, your floor may not be suitable for sanding.

This could be due to the veneer being too thin, or the floor may be over-sanded; this, however, doesn’t mean your floor can’t be refinished. In this article, we’ll look at how to seal hardwood floors without sanding.

There are two ways to seal hardwood floors without sanding: Buffing or abrading the existing coat or applying a chemical “etching” kit. Both processes enable you to refinish your hardwood floors without needing to sand.

How To Seal Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

How To Seal Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

Step 1: Buffing and Abrading

Inspect your floor to see if it has a wax finish. If your floor has a wax finish instead of oil or lacquer, simply buffing and recoating the finish may end up leaving ugly bubbles.

To test if your floor has a wax finish, apply paint thinner or mineral spirits to a small, clean inconspicuous area. 

Allow the thinner to soak and wipe with a white rag; if it turns brown or yellow, the finish may be wax.

If your floor has a wax finish, you will need to rewax and polish the floors using a buffing machine fitted with a steel wool pad.

Related Post: How To Distress Hardwood Floors

Step 2: Clear the Area

Next, take out any furniture in the space and make any needed repairs to the floor. If there are any protruding floorboard nails, pound them into just below the surface with a hammer and point. 

This may result in a hole that can be filled with wood putty, allowed to dry for a few hours, and then sand lightly along the grain until it’s flush with the floor.

Then clean the floor thoroughly by sweeping with a broom or vacuuming, then mop the floor with a commercial hardwood cleaner to remove any contaminants without dissolving the existing sanding.

Step 3: Abrade the Floor Lightly

With a buffing machine or your hands, abrade the floor lightly.  

Although this is how to seal hardwood floors without sanding, you still need to sand the floor just a little. 

You won’t need to sand the floor to bare wood as you would if you were doing a full refinishing. 

You only need to lightly abrade or scuff the surface to remove imperfections in the existing finish, which prepares the floor for the application of the new coat of finish.

You can hire buffing machines at your local hardware store or home center, but you can also do it by hand if you prefer.

You’ll need 120-180-grit sandpaper for this process, and try not to apply too much pressure when sanding; just work the finish until a powder forms.

Prepare the floor perimeter by lightly sanding by hand, then with a buffer, move from side to side along the floor’s grain.

Step 4: Vacuum The Floor Thoroughly

When the floor is lightly abraded, avoid sweeping the floor, as that will only push the dust further into the cracks between the floorboards. 

Instead, use a vacuum fitted with a soft-bristle attachment to thoroughly suck up the dust created during the scuffing process.

Using A Chemical “Etching” Kit

If your hardwood floor is only lightly worn out and scratched but not so damaged that it needs to be sanded before refinished, then you can use a “chemical etching” kit.

Instead of buffing the floor to prepare it for a new finish, you get to apply a chemical solution that takes on that job.

This method isn’t suitable for wax-finished floors, and we have already discussed how to know if you have a wax-finished floor above, so do well to check if your floor has been finished with wax before proceeding.

Get A Refinishing Kit

Refinishing kits may cost about hundred bucks or thereabouts and you can get them at large home centers and hardware stores; you may also find them online.

Also, prepare the needed tools and materials.

For this process, you’ll need:

  • Bucket
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush
  • Sponge mop
  • Shoe covers
  • A shop vacuum
  • Abrasive pads
  • Painter’s tape

Clear the Room

Take out all furniture and thoroughly clean the floor, ensuring it is as dust-free as possible by turning off the HVAC before coating; you do not want any dust in the air to land on the wet finish as that creates “whiskers” on the floor. 

You may also need to close the curtains to prevent direct sunlight from causing the finish to dry too quickly in some spots.

Apply the Liquid Etcher

To roughen the floor surface and prepare it for the finish, apply the liquid etcher according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Scrub the product firmly into the grain using the abrasive pad usually contained in the kit. Afterward, allow the floor to dry for about 30 minutes.

Mop the Floor

With a cleaning solution of 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid combined with 1 gallon of warm water, mop the floor thoroughly to remove any remaining residue and neutralize the chemical etcher.

When the floor dries, touch up any scratches in the wood by using an artist’s brush to apply a matching stain to the scratch and blot out any excess with a rag. 

Use a hairdryer to dry the stain for about a minute before sealing it with the finish provided in the kit.

Apply the finish using the kit’s applicator pad and adhere to the manufacturer’s specific instructions precisely. 

Do not allow the finish to sit more than 10 minutes before buffing it in, so it doesn’t become gummy. 

You can seek a helper if you are working in a large area. You may need to apply a second coat to further hide any scratches.

After applying the finish, allow it to dry, and you should be able to walk over the finish with stocking feet after about 8 hours, and you can return the furniture after a day or two. 

But wait up to 2 weeks before putting down a rug.


You can seal hardwood floors without sanding if your floor has become too thin to be sanded, or it simply doesn’t need to be sanded as it hasn’t received too many scratches and dents.