How to make hardwood floors look new without refinishing

How to make hardwood floors look new without refinishing

How to make hardwood floors look new without refinishing

Do you love the wooden flooring in your house, but at the same time hate the beating it has taken over time due to moving furniture and general wear and tear. The presence of pets in the house can also be a reason why your wooden floor looks as dull as dirt. If your once-sparkling floors are far from being in mint condition and could probably use a touch-up then you should continue reading this blog post. If you’re thinking that to get that brand new-again sheen you have to sand down the floors, restrain them, and reseal them, then you’re very wrong. Rest assured that it is very easy to refresh your hardwood floors in one day and save yourself from the labor, and expense of sanding off your existing finish. Not to mention the mess.

How to make hardwood floors look new without refinishing

In this blog post, we will be discussing different approaches to bring your hardwood floor back to life and cleaning old wood floors without refinishing and without any mess. However, before you decide the best solution that works for your home, here are a few things you should consider before renewing or refinishing old hardwood floors.

Type of Hardwood floor you will be working with 

Before you start working on your hardwood floors, it is very important that you precisely know the materials you are working with. This is important because if you are not the original owner and do not know the type of hardwood floor then you might not be able to get the desired results as different floor materials or treatments 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.

When in doubt, always test beforehand:

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. Hence, leading to a larger expense, and more time spent. Therefore, save your time by truly confirming the type of hardwood you are working with.

Fixing the Gaps:

Trowel filling after sanding is an effortless way to fill the darn gaps. However, it must be done during the right time of the year. This is because wood compresses during the winter and expands in summer. When you fill gaps between floorboards during winters, the material used is often squeezed out during sultry weather. That’s why it’s best to fill floors when the humidity is higher during the summer. Unfortunately, trowel filling might not prove to be a permanent solution to your problems, especially when it is used to patch small crevices where filler can easily come loose. Therefore, you should only fill the larger gaps. Leaving the smaller ones unpatched as wood expansion will accommodate them.

Let’s get started…

Deep Cleaning:

A deep cleaning may restore your hardwood floors and can make them look new without refinishing. You can begin with thoroughly sweeping floors with a broom. Make sure that broom bristles are soft as rigid bristles can scratch the wood’s surface. Afterward, use a vacuum to remove hard to reach dirt in room corners and between the gaps. Next, mop using a cloth and cleaner especially made for hardwood floors. TA-DA!! and you are done.

Here’s what you need to do in the future to keep your hardwood floor clean:

  1. Surface clean at least twice a week using a vacuum or a cloth.
  2. Deep clean once per month using a cloth and cleaner especially made for hardwood floors.
  3. Professionally deep clean whenever you get the chance. Probably once every year.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind steam, water, vinegar, and cleaners that produce suds should never be used to clean wood floors.

What if deep cleaning doesn’t work. 

If a deep clean doesn’t work, you could give it a fresh new finish without sanding or staining using one of the following products:

  1. Rust-Oleum Transformations Wood and Laminate Floor Renewal Kit: It includes everything you need to create a fresh, semi-glossy polyurethane finish without changing your floor’s color. Once applied it takes twenty-four hours to dry, and seven to fourteen days to cure. However, this stuff is not compatible with waxed wood floors.
  2. Hardwood Floor Reviver: Designed to restore a wood floor’s existing polyurethane finish. The high-gloss sheen will last up to six months.
  3. Wood Floor Restorer: This stuff is created to restore previously sealed old hardwood woods. It’s available in both satin and glossy finishes.

Chemical Abrasion Kit:

You will be using a chemical solution to prepare the flooring and etch the old finish so the new finish will bond. Then you will apply a new coat of finish to restore your floor.


  • Hardwood floor cleaner, mop, broom, vacuum, cleaning wipes, damp cloth, etc.
  • Painter’s tape
  • Chemical abrasion kit (You can find this DIY kit at your local hardware or home improvement store or online).
  • Two paint trays
  • Scouring pads
  • Broom handle
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Shoe covers
  • Wood stain
  • Small artist paintbrush or cotton swab
  • Paintbrush
  • Rags
  • Hairdryer

Prepping the floor

  1. Before you start, make sure that the floor is clear of any furniture.
  2. Then clean the floor with a vacuum and damp cloth. Since you would not want particles to land on your floor in the wet finish and create imperfections when the finish hardens, therefore, make sure every surface in the room is clean from any dust.
  3. Let the floor dry after cleaning.
  4. Now use painter’s tape to protect your baseboards and close the curtains to prevent hot spots on the floor that would cause the finish to dry faster than you would actually want.


  1. Once dry apply the abrasive and scrub the floor.
  2. Take it one small section at a time. This is because if the solution is left for more than five minutes on the floor, it can drain into the gaps between the flooring and damage the core beneath the laminate.
  3. Don’t forget to apply a fair amount of pressure to roughen the floor’s surface.
  4. As you go, wipe up any extra liquid with an old towel before starting the next area. Once the complete floor is done allow it to dry for thirty minutes.
  5. Now mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid into a gallon of warm water.
  6. Dampen mop to clean the floor and neutralize the etcher and clean up any remaining residue. Make sure the mop is only slightly damp as not to cause any water damage to the floor. Mop in small sections and clean up puddles as they form.
  7. Touch up any deeper scratches with a tiny artist paintbrush using some stain that matches the stain of the floor.
  8. Dry the stain for a minute with a hairdryer and add a very thin coat of the abrasive.
  9. To wrap it up coat the floor in a new finish. Make sure that you are wearing shoe covers.
  10. Put the finish applicator pad on the block and pour some finish into another plastic-lined box. This way you can get a good coating of finish on the applicator and in addition to minimizing drips.
  11. Recruit a helper. As you spread the finish on the floor, give your helper a head start coating the edges against the walls and baseboards with a paint pad while you follow behind with the applicator.
  12. To properly spread the new finish, work with the grain of the floor, and gently pull the applicator at an angle so the excess finish continues spreading to the dry side of the floor.
  13. Evenly apply the finish in as few strokes as possible for the best results. Do not stress about the milky color of the finish—it dries clear.
  14. Mostly, one coat of finish is enough to rejuvenate the floor. However, it is a good idea to add a second coat for an extra layer to protect the underlying wood and hide the deeper scratches.
  15. Before adding a second coat, make sure you have enough finish to do another pass over the room.

Follow the directions on the package for best results. You should be able to walk on the floor with clean socks after eight hours and can move furniture in after twenty-four hours. However, it is recommended to let the finish fully set for two weeks before laying down an area rug.

Pros and Cons:

  1. One kit has all the major materials for a one-stop-shop.
  2. Does not create any dust.
  3. Minimal fumes.
  4. Requires more than one person to do the job effectively.
  5. You only have a short amount of time to apply the finish before it starts to dry.

Buffing and recoating with Polyurethane:

Prepping the room

This approach can be a bit messier as compared to the abrasive kit approach. The approach might look like sanding, but actually what you’re doing is roughing up the existing finish so the new finish will bond.

Before you start make sure that you own a buffer. First things first, make sure that the room is empty of furniture and the floors are free. While you’re cleaning, take note of where there are any deep scratches. If your floors have exposed nails take note of where those are as well. Mark these kinds of spots with painter’s tape so you can tend to them when you’re done cleaning.

Problem areas

  1. Time to address the problem areas which you marked earlier.
  2. To make the areas where the finish is worn away less noticeable, they need to be doused with some mineral spirits to darken the spot a bit.
  3. For the high-traffic spots stripped of finish, you’ll need a bit more time. First, wet the section with some mineral spirits to test how it would look with a coat of polyurethane.
  4. If it looks good, add a layer of polyurethane to seal it and let it sit for two days before jumping into buffing.
  5. Fix the nails that stick out from the floor as they will possibly damage the buffer. Either make them flush with the wood or sink them a little deeper. Once you’ve sunken the nails, fill in those spots and other deep gouges with some putty. Then, let the putty set.

The buffer

The buffer will not be able to get into the corners or right up against the baseboards, so you have to do these by hand.

  1. All you need to do is scratch up the current finish. You don’t want to wear it down or sand through it.
  2. Add a little bit of pressure and only go over the areas three or four times.
  3. For this approach, you will also need some sanding screens as well.
  4. When your floor is clean and the edges are roughened, put a sanding screen under the buffer.
  5. Dust ALERT!!. Make sure to open your room’s windows and placing fans in them, closing ducts, and sealing off the working area. Do not forget to wear a dust mask.
  6. Turn on the buffer and swing it back and forth to properly buff the existing finish. Swing from wall to wall and work your way back across the room.
  7. Only buff each area one with one to two passes so you don’t eat through to the wood.
  8. Now vacuum the room and wipe down the floors. Make sure there is no dust left to prevent it from settling in the wet finish.

Decide about what kind of polyurethane finish you plan to use: an oil-based urethane or water-based urethane.

Oil-based Urethane:

  • Requires a natural bristle brush
  • Easier to apply
  • Dries slowly, allowing you to spread and smooth the finish in more time
  • Has a yellowish hue that darkens over time
  • Requires using a respirator and opening windows to prevent the inhalation of toxic fumes

Water-based Urethane:

  • Requires a synthetic brush
  • More durable
  • Goes on as a milky color and dries clear and remains clear over time
  • The color makes it easier to see when applying it, so you’re less likely to miss a spot
  • Dries quickly, so you have to work fast to spread and smooth the finish

Some tips

  1. Use a high-quality paintbrush and start spreading your finish against the wall.
  2. When you are done, you will use an applicator pad on a block attached to a broom handle.
  3. Again, plan your application process so you don’t literally work yourself into a corner. This is sturdier than a paint tray.
  4. Coat the applicator and then drag the applicator at an angle while applying firm pressure to the floor. That way the finish will pool and you can spread it in the direction of the grain.

Congrats, you’re done.

Pros and Cons:

  1. The most effective way to prep your floor for a new finish.
  2. The most professional DIY approach.
  3. Long-lasting.
  4. Causes more dust and requires a more significant cleanup.
  5. Requires more hands-on effort.


I hope that these methods and tips were not only unique but also new for you. If you loved the ideas or have any suggestions you can let me know in the comment box down below. I would love to listen to them!

Feel free to ask any questions you have I’d be so happy to help you ❤︎

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