How to Stain Hardwood Floors Darker (Without Sanding)?

It’s recommended to sand hardwood floors before staining. But sanding a hardwood floor is a difficult and time-consuming task. So can you stain the hardwood floor darker without sanding and how do you go about it?

You can stain hardwood floors darker without sanding. However, you should know that you’ll need to clean and degrease the floor before staining.

This is to get rid of grease and dirt on the floor that can prevent the stain from sticking properly. You can do this by using a degreaser like TSD or a solvent.

You’ll also need to buff the hardwood floor with a floor buffer. Cleaning and buffing the floor will ensure the hardwood floor is clean and smooth enough to be stained even without sanding.

But that’s not all. Let’s dive deeper to discover more about staining hardwood floors including expert steps to carry out the task without sanding.

Should You Sand Hardwood Floors?

Is It Bad To Sand Hardwood Floors?

It’s not bad to sand hardwood floors. Though sanding hardwood floors can be difficult, you’ll get many benefits from doing so. When you sand the floor, the sandpaper helps to remove bumps and pimples in the floors so the floor is smoother.

Sanding also helps to create tiny tooth-like ridges in the wood to allow the stain to penetrate and stick better. Flooring experts even explain that hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished up to ten times. So sanding doesn’t do any damage to your hardwood flooring.

In cases where you damaged the hardwood floor after sanding, it’s usually because you used the wrong type of sandpaper or you sanded the wood wrongly or too hard.

The right type of sandpaper to use over a hardwood floor is medium-grit sandpaper. Also, it’s better to sand along than across the wood grain. 

Can You Refinish Wood Floors Without Sanding?

You can refinish wood floors without sanding as long as the floor isn’t defective. The purpose of sanding is to allow the stain to stick better and to make the hardwood floor smoother.

So if the hardwood floor isn’t rough and there isn’t any top coat that can prevent the stain from sticking, you don’t need to sand. You just need to ensure that the hardwood floor is clean enough to be dark-stained. You can do this by cleaning the hardwood floor with a degreaser.

Also, if the hardwood floor is new or freshly installed, you don’t need to sand because the surface will still be smooth enough to allow stain. Also if the existing stain on the hardwood floor wasn’t sealed, you don’t have to sand.

Here is a table that displays when you need to and when you don’t have to sand the hardwood floor before staining:

Sand The Hardwood Floor If:Don’t Sand The Hardwood Floor If:
The floor was sealed with a top coatThe hardwood floor is new
The floor is defective or damagedThe floor wasn’t sealed with a top coat
The floor is unevenIf the floor is smooth
The existing stain is oil-basedIf the existing stain is smooth

So in summary, you can dark stain hardwood floors without sanding as long as the floor is smooth and clean. You only need to sand before staining hardwood floor if the surface isn’t smooth and if the floor was sealed.

You can also use a hardwood floor finishing kit — the kit contains everything you need to stain a hardwood floor without sanding it first. The hardwood floor finish kit has a paste-like product known as a chemical etcher. The etcher helps to abrade the hardwood so the stain can easily penetrate and stick properly.

How To Stain Wood Floors Darker Without Sanding?

To stain a hardwood floor without sanding, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  1. Clean rags
  2. A degreaser or acetone
  3. A soft brush
  4. A paintbrush
  5. A can of a dark stain
  6. A vacuum
  7. A sealant (optional)

1. Clean and Degrease The Hardwood Floor

Clean and Degrease The Hardwood Floor

The first step is to clean and degrease the floor. If there are stains and oils on the hardwood floor, the stain will not stick very well to the hardwood floor. Also, the stain will start to peel as the oils beneath begin to affect it. So, it’s advised to get rid of them.

To get rid of oils and grease, use a degreaser like TSD. You can also use acetone but be careful as acetone is a natural paint remover. Too much of it can remove the existing stain on the hardwood floor.

2. Buff The Floor With a Floor Buffer (Optional)

Buff The Floor With a Floor Buffer

Floor buffers work in the same way as sandpapers. But with floor buffers, you can smoothen and remove varnish from the hardwood floor without reaching the wood or timber underneath. So floor buffers are a safer alternative.

Use the floor buffer to remove any imperfection on the hardwood floor that can hinder the proper performance of the stain. If there is a top coat or a sealant on the hardwood floor, you can also remove it with a floor buffer. Just follow the user’s instructions.

After buffing the wood, there will be dust on the hardwood floor. So, remove the dust nibs with a vacuum or wipe it off with a rag.

3. Apply a Few Coats Of Dark Wood Stain

Apply a Few Coats Of Dark Wood Stain On The Hardwood Floor

When the floor is smooth and clean, apply the stain. You can use a paintbrush or a spray gun for this. To use a spray gun, you’ll need to thin the stain to get it light enough to be sprayed.

Stains need to penetrate the wood so be sure to leave enough dry time between coats. For water-based stains, leave at least an hour of dry time between coats. For oil-based stains, you’ll need at least 2 hours of dry time between coats. 

4. Apply a Protective Sealant

Apply a Protective Sealant

It’s always a good idea to apply a few coats of protective sealant over a hardwood floor. This is because the floor will see high foot traffic and weight. So it needs as much protection as it can get. Common sealants used over wood stains include polyurethane and gel stain.

You can put 3-4 coats of gel stain over the finish when it has dried if you want a very dark finish on the wood. Gel stains always make stains look darker.

But if the stain dries and it looks darker than you wanted, you can apply 3 coats of water-based polyurethane to the floor. While gel stain makes stain look darker, polyurethane makes stain look lighter.


Type of Stain To Use

The best type of stain to use to darken hardwood flooring is gel stain. Gel stain given its thick flow doesn’t allow light to reflect the wood stain underneath.

This makes the hardwood flooring appear darker than it is. To get an even darker finish, consider using a dark shade stain. You can use dark colors like black, gray, dark brown, deep blue, and the likes.

How Long Does Stain Last On Hardwood Floors?

Stains last between a year and up to 7 years on hardwood flooring. On average, stain lasts about 4 years on the hardwood floor before the finish starts to peel and blister off. Wood stain will last longer on hardwood flooring if you add a protective sealant over the wood stain.

Wood stains don’t last very long on wood flooring because the wood is subjected to constant use. Your stiletto heels, furniture, foot traffic, pet claw marks, and the likes all cause the wood stain to wear out and peel off within a few months.

But a few coats of protective sealant will add extra durability to the finish. Top choices for hardwood floors include polyurethane, a gel stain, and epoxy.

Is It Cheaper To Refinish Or Replace Hardwood Floors?

According to different floor renovation specialists, it’s cheaper to refinish hardwood floors than it’s to replace them. Plus, refinishing takes less time than replacing hardwood floors. 

Final Words

Overall, you can stain hardwood floors darker without sanding as long as you clean, degrease, and buff the hardwood floor before applying the wood stain. All of these will ensure that the floor is ready to absorb the wood stain and that the finish comes out smoothly.

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