Possible to have oak floors stained without sanding?

HI group. Forgive me for not researching the other posts before posting. My background: I am not interested in DIY and am willing to hire a good professional to do the work. I have been told that my old oak floors are too thin to be sanded and refinished again, and I want them to be dark. The issues with replacing the floor are that they are very wavy, uneven (house is from 1925) and they can't lay floor on top of them -- we'd have to replace what's here for a ton of money. Also adding to the fun is that there is no subfloor.
My question is this - is there any way to darken floors without sanding? Is there a way to strip them and re-stain/finish? They appear to have been pretty well stripped prior to our acquiring the house 2 years ago (in fact the photos from the early real estate listings showed dark floors -- bummer!). They are the color of light oak (almost basketball color but I think that is maple, these are oak).
I don't need them to look perfect -- just not foolish :-). And I"m willing to pay, just dont want to replace.
Any thoughts welcome, thanks!
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Dairy Godmother wrote:

They could be stripped to remove the finish but it'll be very expensive w/o sanding (time-->money). Not many floor finishers (if any) are going to want to do the work that way.
--
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I can't see the original post some I'm hitchiking on dpb.
Speaking from experience, it the floor exhibits significant disturbance from level--and you want it leveled--it is time for the aggressive drum and disc sanders dedicated to that job to appear. Use of the word "aggressive" means they remove protrusions relatively quickly and measurably. The drum sander in particular benefits importantly from a proven handler: it tends to bounce and make a noticeable wane when a novice sets it down which requires other sanding approaches to remove. A good pro can avoid or mininmize this problem. I've seen excellent craftsmen very carefully attempt virgin use of the drum sander knowing all the pitfalls to avoid and the cautions to be observed; their failure rate is massive.
If you floor is almost denuded of finish, you can try chemically removing what remains. Or you can employ belt and orbital sanders to do that alone or in combination with chemicals. This will be slow and you will need to remove all stripping residue in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
Another way to make it "dark" is to paint it. There are many novel and attractive approaches here but I'll let you do the research.
To close in anticipation of what you have not said which may be, if your floor moves or squeaks much and it is thin as advertised, replace it.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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Another problem the OP could likely have is a floor with no underlying barrier membrane. If the fasteners aren't loose now--or he "fixes" areas where they are--the chance that more distortion and loosening will occur if there isn't a membrane are some part of the invited future.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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Edward Hennessey wrote: ...

In that OP says it's ca 1925 construction, I'd venture where it is now is where it will stay for the foreseeable future.
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If a respected professional (or two) told you the flooring was too thin to sand and refinish, you should probably consider that very strongly. I don't know many that are willingly turning down work these days.
IME, there is no known way to refinish or recolor a floor without stripping it to remove the old surface.
Unless you paint it.
Yup.
A remodeling buddy of my mine called me over to inspect the floors on his project that were in pretty bad shape. They were scuffed up, dinged, dented, stained and had already been sanded and refinished twice. (House built in the 20's).
Since dark floors are in vogue, I laughingly told him it would be better to just paint it than to worry about refinishing. He loved the idea (even though I was kind of joking) and went in and sanded the floor of one room fairly well, certainly not well enough to refinish.
He painted the floor with two coats of deck paint. The color was a cocoa brown, and I thought it looked absolutely awful. However, the decorator was thrilled, and immediately decorated the room with rugs, accessories and the proper wall color. When she was finished, the floor looked great and they did most of the house that way. They even did a room in black and it looked good.
All chairs and tables were on throw rugs so the wear was on the rugs and not the paint so I would imagine that it has held up fine.
The thing that surprised me was the uneven surface, the grain of the wood, and dents and wear on the floor reflected through the paint and gave the wood an nice texture. Since it was a satin finish, it looked like a cousin of these "hand scraped" floors that are so popular.
Go figure.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

After initial reaction I got to thinking very similarly--perhaps a solid stain would be another option after a surface prep. I'd think w/ product selection one could still put a polyurethane floor varnish over to protect it as well.
The finish sanding/scuffing should be possible w/o removing much actual material I'd think so unless is to the point there's absolutely nothing left above the top groove it _should_ be doable w/ care. There might be need for some hand work if it isn't possible to take it down to level. As somebody else noted, smaller would likely be better to follow the contours. It'll definitely need a light touch, though, sounds like.
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Back in the day, almost 40 years ago, I made a lot of rustic furniture. This stuff did not not need a lot of fancy finishes.
I picked up a client, who became a regular customer, who loved old spanish style furniture. At least that is what it was called at the import shops. Big, bulky and black. She had a couple pieces made and was upset at the finish. She brought me down to an import shop and showed me what she wanted. It was black paint!! How hard is that?
So I just scuffed up the present finish and painted it with a couple coats of a good quality, oil based paint. She loved it! I went on and made a number of other pieces for her. And each was painted with black paint. She paid extra to have me apply more coats of paint. She thought I was a genius.
It always boils down to the old maxim of the customer is always right. I could have put on a dark finish, that to my eye, would be more attractive. But she was a basic black kind of girl. That is what she wanted. So that is what she got. I couldn't figure out why the guys who built stuff for her before could not figure it out.
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"Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote in message

Hmmm... that last situation sounds strangely similar to pretty much everything else I've seen whether the vendor was IT, home repair, or automotive. On the other hand, I know "customers" who had no idea what they needed or wanted. In one recent case the home owner friend of mine thought they needed spray foam insulation in their attic to cut their heating bills... A big dollar proposal to remove and dispose of the fiber glass and spray in R15 worth of foam was presented by the contractor... R15 was a lower R than they had in the first place! Spray foaming the penetrations and other air leaks and blowing in more fiberglass or cellulose would have been a lot cheaper and better... Which is where they ended up after I pointed out the proposed R value was way below current code and suggested they get a blower door test done. Ethical selling should include listening, questioning, and educating... Starting with what problem is being solved?
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On Dec 30, 1:53pm, "Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote:

I remember that stuff. It was nasty. The "Spanish" type furniture and the "Mediterranean" style were the rage. Lots of heavy, blocky wood profiles with spindles. I had a client that was in her upper 80s a couple of years ago that had a wet bar in her home that was still full of that stuff. If you recall, the favorite color to match with that stuff was a muddled green and fire engine red. She had a wing full of both. Ecch!

Too many times I hear stories of contractors and finishers telling clients "oh, you won't like that" and "that wont' go well in here". Unless my client specifically asks my opinion and I reply on as such, I don't offer my ideas.
I see myself these days as a service operator. You tell me what you want, we strike up a price, and I do the work. There are too many DIY shows, to many "HandyMam", "Fix my House!", "Design on a Dime" and on a on for me to respond to these days. So my clients specify what they want, and I don't debate with them unless it makes it too difficult to warrant.
As far as you finishing goes, I hear you loud and clear. Finisher can be a snotty lot, and since most of them are only familiar with a handful of techniques at best, they tend to try to bend what they know to fit all processes.
I am sure simply painting the furniture you speak of was much to easy. They probably worked out a stripping scheme, some kind of black brew to color, then shellac, then a couple of coats of some clear finish to put on it. Of course they would scuff sand, apply everything by hand, and maybe even combine finishes.
I apply finish as you did. Fast, easy and a good looking durable end product is all I want. I try not to over think things.
Robert
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I'd think it would be possible to chemically clean the floor, with the help of a floor scrubber, to remove all traces of wax and surface dirt. Then scuff sand the surface with one of the buffer type floor sanders and fine pads (not sandpaper, but abrasive pads). A smaller diameter sander may be better as it will follow the contours of the floor better. The idea isn't to remove all the old finish or any wood but rather to clean it and give it "teeth" for the new finish. After the scuff sanding, seal the surface with dewaxed shellac (e.g,. Zinsser's Seal Coat). The shellac is a universal sealer that will go over and under pretty much anything else. After the shellac apply a stain dark enough to hide discolorations. Lastly apply a finish such as polyurethane or gym seal etc. You may need to put shellac over the stain if the stain and final finish are not compatible...
This would be labor intensive, and take days for application and drying time, but it would not remove any more wood... If you tackle it yourself I'd certainly discuss the compatibility of the various chemicals/finishes with the supplier/manufacturer. If you stick to one brand of stain and final finish it may be easier to avoid incompatibility.
John
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On 12/30/10 8:28 AM, Dairy Godmother wrote:

Chemically stripping that floor would be a multi-day and very expensive project *if* you can actually find anyone willing to do it. Odours would probably require you and your family to move out while it is being done. You may end up paying more to do it, than replacing with a brand new floor.
If you want to do it yourself, try a test area, under a couch, in a closet etc., try scuffing up the finish with a very light sanding, just to give it a bit of tooth, tack rag and vacuum very well. Then try a tinted clear coat in a darker colour. It may take a few coats, depending on what you use and give it time to dry between, if that is what the manufacturer of the product recommends. This will be long, slow and very tedious process, I would go for the new floor personally.
Remember this idea is worth exactly what you paid for it, absolutely nothing. :-)
--
Froz...


The system will be down for 10 days for preventive maintenance.
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Dairy Godmother wrote:

Underlayment and carpet anyone?
Lew
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I will assume that it was a professional floor refinisher that told you the floor is too thin to take another sanding. I would go with that person's opinion. More of a concern is that the boards are cupped and warped ("wavy"). This may be due to more than just simple wear, probably not though.
There are firms that do a "sandless" floor refinishing. They chemically strip the old finish followed by putting down an intermediate bonding layer followed by top finish layers. The stripper is relatively safe compared to the usual wood strippers and it dries to a powder so it can be swept/vacuumed off. It is a complete system but it appears to be ideal for your needs. Try finding firms that use such a system in your area through the Web.
Good Luck.
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Dairy Godmother wrote:

Thinking outside the box (store) here...
Why not consider what you've got as the new SUB floor? Apply some leveling compound to the valleys, add a layer of foam underlayment, then cover that with laminate?
Lumber Liquidators has laminate as cheap as fifty-nine cents/sq ft (sometimes). Take a peek: http://www.lumberliquidators.com/home.jsp?gclid=CLyW8bKSlaYCFY9l7Aod7wyfpw
Floor & Decor Outlets can get you down to $0.44/sq ft http://www.flooranddecoroutlets.com/laminate.html
I doubt you could get what you have SANDED that cheaply!
'Course you COULD go to a box store. I think their cheapest laminatee is in the neighborhood of five dollars...
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One of my suppliers (Wilsonart Canada) sells laminate flooring. So does IKEA, so do discounters and box stores. The difference in product quality ranges from what appears to be printed paper on cardboard to VERY hard, scuff resistant coatings on backed SHDF. Some of the 'snap- together' stuff is absolute garbage and WILL wear out, curl edges, scratch and discolour in a couple of years of normal traffic. The good stuff, like Wilsonart commercial grades are very tough and will last a life-time in commercial settings. With the possible exception of the quality range in carpets, I can't think of any product where the gap between absolute crap and good stuff is as wide as it is in laminate flooring. Sooooo caveat emptor.
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Robatoy wrote:

I don't dispute what your saying at all.
I got the cheapest Lumber Liquidators had at the time ($0.79/sq ft). Then I got some other even cheaper ($0.49/sq ft) at the Floor and Decor Outlet place. Put them in three bedrooms almost three years ago. They've not only held up admirably, they still look like new.
Aside: Here's a post from back then.
--- begin repeat
Some may recall that I've been approached twice in Home Depot parking lots by what I thought were would-be muggers. They both came up with complicated but believable excuses for not heeding my command to "Stop! Come no closer!" such as "Hey, man, I just wanted to borrow a cigarette (and I intend to light it with this-here tire iron)."
Anyway, last night I went to a new store, "Floor and Decor Outlets" to buy some el-cheapo laminate flooring for a spare room ($0.49 / sq ft).
As I opened my car door and extended my foot, it landed on a pair of black, lacy, thong panties!
Definitely a different parking lot clientele.

Actually no, I didn't.
I picked them up with a pair of panty-tongs I keep in my truck for just such contingencies and double-sealed them in some Home Depot plastic bags.
I plan to put them in the passenger-side door pocket of my neighbor's truck. He and his wife use the truck for their weekly grocery shopping tour, usually on the weekends.
I think adrenaline is good for people.
Before I do that, I might put a "found" ad on Craigslist just to see what bottoms up.
And no, I haven't been back to the store. I'm waiting for a parking-lot sale.
--- end repeat
Your luck may vary.
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