Here is how you can clean and refinish your hardwood flooring without sanding down to bare wood.
You will need to rent a buffer at your local hardware store, and you will need a vacuum. If you have never buffed a floor before practice in the center of your room until you know how to use it.
Once you have messed up the finish, you need to apply a water-based polyurethane. Water-based it more expensive but you can recoat in 3 hours while the oil-based polyurethane needs 8 hours to dry. You will need to recoat it every 2 years or whenever needed.
Take all the furniture out of the room and clean with some kind of hardwood cleaner. You can make your own using 10 units of water and 1 part vinegar. Wipe the floor with a terry cloth mop or with a towel that has been wrapped around a mop head. Make sure to leave doors and windows closed to minimize the dust in the room.
Remove all the furniture, and spray the floor with a hardwood flooring cleaner or your own mix of 10 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. Gently wipe the floor with a terry-cloth mop or a towel wrapped around a mop head. Close the windows and doors to keep dust contained in the room you’re sanding.
Get 180-grit sandpaper and sand the perimeter and any places that the buffer cannot get into. Rub 4-6 inches out from the baseboard rub each board until there is powder and the finish is gone. Don’t use a sanding block it will miss any spots that are uneven.
Use a maroon buffing pad and be sure to put on a dusk mask. Slide the buffer across the floor in the same direction of the grain. Make sure to leave an overlap about 6 inches. The finish will turn to powder so you can easily see where you have done. Don’t let the buffer sit in one place, keep it moving. You will need to stop every 5 minutes or so to vacuum the pad.
Let the dust settle for 10-15 minutes. Change the filter and vacuum the floor using the felt attachment vacuum in the same direction as the flooring is laid. Vacuum diagonally across the grain of the wood to remove dust from in between the boards. Dry-tack the floor with a microfiber cloth along the grain.
Cover your shoes, mouth, and nose. Start by straining the finish through a cone-shaped filter directly into a clean plastic watering can. Be sure to remove the sprinkler head. Pour some finish into a small container, this needs to be plastic as well. Put the polyurethane in a 3-inch strip around the baseboards. You have to stop after 10 minutes and go to the next step or you will have lap marks.
Pour out a little bit of finish in a line parallel with the grain, but only as much as you can deal with in 10 minutes. Roll in the same direction as the grain and then across the top of it. Overlap every pass and make sure the edge is kept wet. After 10 minutes you will need to brush more finish and roll for another 10 minutes. Do this until the floor is covered. Wait for 3 hours, then recoat. Leave for a week and then replace furniture.