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Can I stain a hardwood floor without sanding?

Staining a worn hardwood floor is best done after sanding, but there are some reasons why you might want to avoid this.

A hardwood floor can be over-sanded, as there is a limit to how many times a floor can be sanded. This is particularly the case for engineered wood flooring, which has a thin veneer of real wood as a top layer, so obvious this can only be sanded so many times.

Thankfully, there are ways to stain a hardwood floor without fully sanding it beforehand.

Screen and recoat

The screen and recoat method doesn’t eliminate the need for sanding completely, as the floor is first screened or scuffed with a grit sanding screen of about 120-grit, but no coarser. The dust is vacuumed and two coats of coloured or clear varnish are applied.

Hardwood floor refinishing kit

A refinishing kit includes a chemical etcher, a stained finish and all the tools required. First, clean the floor then apply the etcher using the tools provided, or you can use a paint pad. The etcher de-glosses the floor which makes the stain finish adhere to the wood.

Non-abrasive staining

Some wood stain manufacturers make stains that can be applied directly without abrasive processes. They require a sealant to be applied to the floor before staining. If available, buy a sample pot of the stain to try out on a small area of the floor to see how effective it is.

If you want to change a dark stained wood floor to a lighter colour, you cannot simply apply a light stain – the floor will need to be sanded to remove the dark stain.

Wood stainers will not adhere to a wax polished floor, as the wax needs to be removed by sanding. If the floor is scratched and worn, it is better to sand it first before staining.

New wood flooring

New wood that has not been pre-finished is easy to stain. First, apply a sealer then use up to four coats of stain. The best wood stains are quick drying and don’t have a strong odour when applied.

Some woods, including maple and pine, are difficult to stain, but you can buy stains that are formulated to spread evenly on all types of woods.

What is the best colour?

Colour is a personal choice, but most people choose stains from light to dark brown so that the floor still retains the appearance of natural wood. If you want to change a traditional looking room to a contemporary style, use a light grey stain. Many wood stains are available in small testing pots to try out on small areas.

Wood is a beautiful natural product that lasts a long time. After a few years, it may show signs of wear, and ideally should be sanded and refinished to make it look like new again. If the floor is not worn badly and you simply want to change the colour, applying a good quality stain without full sanding is fine.

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