This guide is meant for refinishing a polyurethane coated (i.e. lacquered) solid wood floor only. If your floor has an oil finish, please see our other guide.
Some of our wooden floors can last for generations, but a wooden floor that’s well cared for and protected will last decades longer than one that’s left to fend for itself. If you want to know how to properly look after your floor, make sure you read on.
As the years go by, every floor will age and, eventually, need to be treated to bring back its former glory. Firstly, it’s important to know that there are two different treatments for your floor: recoating and refinishing.
Recoating is a one-day process which involves buffing your floor and reapplying a layer of floor sealer. If your floor has small scratches or has lost its shine, a simple recoat will be enough.
However, if there are deep scratches, water stains or dull patches where the finish has worn right through, it’s time for a full refinish! Refinishing is a larger task which involves stripping the finish altogether and sanding the boards before applying several layers of new coating. The result is a floor which truly looks brand new. Because of the equipment and skills involved in this, we recommend this is only undertaken by a professional.
Solid wood flooring can be sanded down and refinished more times than any other floor, giving it the longest life – as a rule of thumb, 1mm of flooring will be worn away with each sanding. If in doubt, there are professionals who can help you out.
This is a relatively straightforward job that can be completed in a day. It involves lightly sanding the finish before cleaning and applying a new layer. This will remove any small scratches and restore a new shine to your floor. Unlike refinishing, recoating is something that can be undertaken by somebody with a good level of DIY experience.
This is done by lightly sanding (also known as screening, scuffing and buffing) your floor. You don’t want to remove the finish, but simply take off the top layer.
Next, thoroughly clean your floor, this is done by carefully vacuuming the whole surface to remove as much dust and dirt as possible. Then the floor should be hand cleaned with a rag and a suitable cleaner.
This is applied evenly with an industrial roller. The coats should be even and thin, building up several layers. Remember to work from a corner of the room towards the exit so as not to box yourself in. Depending on the finish used, it may be several days before you can walk in the room, and several weeks before heavy furniture and rugs are reintroduced.
This is a much bigger task than recoating and it may take a few days before you can fully use your room. Refinishing involves sanding off the finish and the top surface of the wood to reach the untreated wood below. Then, several layers of finish are applied.
We strongly recommend using a professional’s services for this. It’s a very big, messy job which can affect your floor’s appearance for decades. Below we’ll give you an idea of what to expect from the process.
This needs to be done with an industrial sander, and whilst these can often be rented, they don't have the power or quality of the kind of sanders used by professionals. The finish on the floor will be sanded away (and cleaned up) and then the wood itself will be sanded.
We strongly recommend getting your pets out of house – the dust can be very bad for them.
This is applied evenly with an industrial roller. The coats should be even and thin, building up several layers. Depending on the finish used, it can be several days before you can walk in the room, and a number of weeks before heavy furniture and rugs are reintroduced.
By the end of the refinishing process, you floor should look identical to when you first bought it.