We've recently rented an apartment with seriously damaged parquet. Since the deal is "take it or leave it", we've decided to "mend" the parquet ourselves.

Dictionary :) Sorry for my bad english, I don't have appropriate translator for some of these stuff, so I'll use these and here's what I think they mean :)
Parquet - wooden floor made of small wooden parts "glued" together
Lacquer - protective coating on the parquet, transparent, (oil based I think)
Emery - rough paper used to "sand" the wood, make it more smooth

The parquet is of relatively cheap kind, the lacquer is completely gone in the middle (leaving the wood exposed and dirty), but there's still some on the edges (about 50% is under lacquer). The proper way to do it is to rent a machine that's removing all of the previous lacquer, flattens the wood further and prepares for a new layer of lacquer. But, we don't want to spend that much money.

Can we just use wooden emery to sand down the parquet that's exposed, and just apply the new layer of lacquer on the whole room? Will the new layer of lacquer stick to the old one or will it fall away when dried? Would it be smart to sand down the previous layer of lacquer just a bit to make it more adhesive to the new layer?

EDIT: The results
First of all, doing sanding by hand is an absolute impossibility - it would take you entire day just to sand out one square meter... So, we purchased the machine for sanding (with circular emery, goes around a cylinder, but with flat bottom) - it's about 30$/40$. But this didn't do the whole trick - because the machine surface is flat, and parquet isn't we couldn't get to the parts that are below the level of neighboring pieces of wood, so we used the drill-mounted-circle-with-emery (or however it's called :)). With all of this, the speed was about 1 square meter per 10/15 minutes. I first thought the lacquer would get hot and sticky and render the emery useless but it really went smooth...(maybe because the existing layer of lacquer was thin, old & worn out).

After that, comes the finishing (lacquer) - we thought about laying out just one layer (to get cheaper) but it just can't be done - the wood "takes in" the lacquer, leaving it dry and not shiny (makes it more difficult to clean afterwards). So, two layers did the trick (with just a "nudge" of sanding in between - it was in the instructions :)), but if you want to get the full effect, 3rd layer would make a difference.

Thanks for the help!

  • Your English is quite understandable. I was going to edit, but I am going to leave it as is so that people responding know to be clear.
    – Stephen
    Aug 30, 2011 at 13:28
  • Agreed; your English is totally clear. I'm a complete DIY novice and I understood what you were asking. :)
    – Aarthi
    Aug 30, 2011 at 15:06
  • If you are only concerned with money, you could potentially sand the entire floor by hand (though it will likely take a long time, depending on the size).
    – Tester101
    Aug 30, 2011 at 16:00
  • If the parquet is the style that I'm thinking of, with squares of blocks turned 90 degrees from each other, then sanding it right may be tricky. That's because you want to sand in the direction of the grain. Maybe a random orbital sander would be a good investment.
    – BMitch
    Aug 31, 2011 at 1:01

3 Answers 3


It really depends how clean the floor is. Particularly where the finish (laquer) has worn off. The purpose of sanding off the finish, as well as a thin layer of wood is to produce a clean, new floor look.

However, it seems that you are trying to just make it livable, not brand new. Here's what I'd do:

  1. Mop the floor well, with some bleach in the water. This will clean up some of the wood.
  2. Let the floor dry completely.
  3. Sand with whatever tools you have. It would be easiest with one of these: Drywall pole sander if you don't have any power tools.
  4. Smooth out any obvious bumps, but simply just try to rough up the existing finish so the new finish will adhere.
  5. Refinish.
  • Great tips everyone! :) The action is due this saturday - I'll let you know how it turned out :) thanks!
    – veljkoz
    Aug 31, 2011 at 11:51

I will add that you should find out what kind of finish is already on the floor. Using a compatiable new finish will increase the chances that the new finish will stick to the old finish.

If someone waxed the old finish then the new finish might not stick at all. Removing the old finish and a bit of wood usually gets rid of these issues. You might need to dewax the current finish.

I suggest you try a sample before doing the whole floor. This way you can see if the new finish is working well with the old finish and you can get an idea of how long it will take for the new finish to cure.


To clean and de-wax the old floor, as well as smooth out the areas that are worn with those that are not, use #1 steel wool and a 50/50 mixture of denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner to clean the floor. It's a laborious process, but if you do the entire floor working from the non-worn edges into the center, it will brighten the entire floor and clean it of wax. You can then lightly sand with 120 grit sandpaper on a hand sander or sanding pole or block and once it is vacuumed and clear of dust it can be coated with a new coat of polyurethane. This works on lacquer or varnish as well as old poly floors.

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