Recoating Hardwood Floors

Many contractors remind customers with a postcard or e-mail when their floors may be due for a recoat. When bidding recoats, be clear on the customers' expectations-a floor that is simply recoated won't look the same as a floor that has been totally resanded. FREE WOOD FLOOR QUOTES

Keep the following in mind when recoating:

• Be aware of any government regulations. Disturbing an area of more than 6 square feet in any housing or child-occupied facility built before 1978 requires lead abatement certification; go to for more information.

  • Before attempting a recoat, inspect the floor for wear to determine what steps will be necessary. If the finish is worn to the point that the color of the wood is not uniform or that bare wood is exposed, complete resanding and finishing is necessary. If the wear is not that severe, the floor can be mechanically abraded and recoated, or a chemical recoating system may be used.
  • Ask the homeowner what has been used on the floor, and find out as much about maintenance habits as possible.
  • Determine the type of finish that is already on the floor. To check for varnish or shellac, scratch the surface in an inconspicuous place with a coin or other sharp object. If the finish flakes, it is probably shellac or varnish; these finishes will need to be resanded.

To check for wax, there are several methods (test the floor in an inconspicuous place): - Use a small amount of mineral spirits on a clean, white rag in an area that has not
been exposed to high traffic. If a slight yellow or brown color appears on the rag, then wax is probably present.

- Use a piece of screen or sandpaper to lightly abrade the floor. If residue balls up, it is a wax-based product.

- Put two drops of water on the floor. If white spots appear after about 10 minutes, the finish is probably wax (the white spots can be removed by gently rubbing them with a soft cloth or synthetic pad dampened with wax).

  • If wax, shellac or varnish are not present on the floor, most likely the finish can be coated over with a regular surface finish.
  • If it is a wax finish, it may be very difficult to recoat the floor with a surface-type finish (i.e. oil-modified. waterborne. conversion varnish, moisture-cure), even with resanding.
  •  Before recoating. the floor should be cleaned with a non-residue cleaner designed specifically for hardwood floors.
  • If mechanically abrading the floor, use the abrasive recommended by the finish manufacturer (typically a sanding screen, pad or sandpaper). After abrading, vacuum all dust possible and tack the floor (follow the finish manufacturer's directions for tacking).
  • Factory-finished wood floors can be recoated, usually with the same procedures that are used for site-finished flooring. Recoating is recommended to restore the finish when it shows wear but is not totally worn through. Sanding and refinishing is necessary only when there is severe damage, such as finish completely worn through, to a large area. Severe damage to just a few boards can be repaired by replacing only those boards.
  • Be aware that recoating a factory-finished floor may void the floor's warranty.
  • Spot finish touchups are possible but may not offer the same appearance as a total recoat. Many finish manufacturers offer a consumer oriented product for minor spot finish and stain repairs. Depending on the extent of the repair, however, recoating or resanding the entire floor may be necessary.

NOFMA Finishing Manual• Resanding, abrading and/or recoating of a wood floor is a job best performed by a wood flooring professional Learn more > Sanding, and Finishing



An elephant has a force of 50 to 100 pounds per square inch (psi) on a hardwood floor, while a 125- pound woman in high heels has the force of 2,000 psi. That's 20 times greater than the elephant. Such force can damage any floor, not just hardwood. Exposed nailheads on shoes are especially brutal to a floor-their 8,000 psi is damaging enough to pulverize hardened concrete.

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