How to Darken Hardwood Floors Without Sanding

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how to darken hardwood floors without sanding

Hardwood floors are incredibly desirable for many reasons. 

Their natural beauty and durability make them perfect for people who want to get the most out of their floors. They are fantastically gorgeous and can increase the value of your home. 

However, at some point, you may want to darken your hardwood floors. The issue is that this can be a lot of work and can disrupt your day-to-day life. 

One of the biggest time commitments with refinishing floors is the sanding step. 

Fortunately, there are ways to darken your hardwood without sanding. In this article, we have laid out the steps so you can get the job done without all the hassle. 

Darkening Hardwood Floors Without Sanding: Basic Idea 

If you are wanting to change the color of your hardwood floor, the process is fairly simple. The steps include: 

  • Pick a stain 
  • Prepare the surface
  • Apply the new stain 
  • Seal the stain

Why Darken Your Hardwood Floors Without Sanding?

why darken your hardwood flooring
While darkening your hardwood floors can be rewarding and result in a good final product, it can be difficult. 

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of the process is the sanding. 

In order to refinish a floor, you will often have to strip the old finish. This gives you a base on which you can lay down the new stain. 

Sanding is a difficult process and can make a huge mess. By skipping that part, you can get a new color with much less difficulty. 

By properly preparing the floor, you can give it a new look and rejuvenate your home. 

Choose a Stain 

If you want to refinish your floor without sanding, you will need to make some concessions. 

Perhaps the biggest compromise you will need to make is that the stain needs to be darker. If you aren’t going to be completely stripping the old finish, darkening it is your only option. 

Stain works by seeping into the wood itself and changing the color. However, if you aren’t going to remove the old finish, it won’t be able to seep in all the way. 

Stain is fairly transparent and uses the natural grain of the wood for its texture. If you are going to choose a lighter color, the fresh, raw wood is your best bet. 

You can stain wood without sanding it if you are going to make it darker. Choosing a dark stain is your best option and will give you the most long-lasting results. 

Prepare the Floor 

prepare the floor

Before you begin, you will need to thoroughly prepare your floor. 

Remove any furniture and rugs in the room and put them somewhere safe. Staining requires a completely clear area and this will give you the room you need to work. 

After removing all the furniture, thoroughly sweep and mop the floor. You will want to make sure that there is no dirt or debris on the floor before you begin. 

After the floor is clean, apply a pre-stain wood conditioner. This will give you a completely smooth surface on which you can put the stain. 

The conditioner will prevent pockets of stain and simulate the texture of the raw wood. Let the conditioner dry for 48 hours before moving on to the next step. 

Apply the Stain 

Once you have applied the conditioner, you can then apply the stain. 

Using a roller, work in smooth, even strokes around the entire room. If possible, apply the stain with the grain of the wood. 

Make sure that you are applying the stain in such a way that you back yourself out of the room. You do not want to work your way into a corner where you can’t get out. 

Let the stain dry for 24 hours. After it has dried, apply another coat if you want the color to be slightly darker. 

Continue in this fashion until you reach the darkness you are looking for. Let the stain cure for at least 48 hours before walking on it. 

Apply a Sealer 

Once the stain has dried, you will want to apply a polyurethane sealer. 

A sealer will protect the stain and put a final, hardened finish on the floor. It will also enhance the stain and give it the shine you are looking for. 

Apply the sealer with a roller just like you did with the stain. 

Apply at least two coats to make sure that the floor is protected from damage and fading. Let the sealer completely cure for at least 48 hours.

Once the sealer has cured, you can move all the furniture back into the room and walk on the floor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to darken hardwood floors without sanding

Can you stain wood with coffee?

Wood can be stained with coffee if you are looking for a natural solution.
However, if you are trying to stain an entire room, this may not be a practical solution. You will also most likely need to sand the old finish off. 

Does vinegar darken wood?

Vinegar will darken the wood slightly and can give it an aged look. 

You will need to get the wood down to the raw finish. Then, you can apply the vinegar with steel wool for an aged, unique look. 

What does baking soda do to wood?

If baking soda gets into the grain of the wood, it can react with the molecules inside the structure. 

This can darken the color of the wood and create stains. This is one of the reasons it is such a good idea to seal wood for flooring. 


Darkening your hardwood floors without sanding is a relatively simple job. By taking the time to do it correctly, you can get some fantastic results. 

Following the above steps will give you your desired look without all the work of sanding.

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Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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