Should I Recoat or Refinish My Hardwood Floors?

Posted by Aaron Schaalma

Do your hardwood floors need a little TLC? If so, you are probably wondering... Recoating or refinishing for hardwood. Which should I choose?   And the answer is not as simple as you might think. So when advising on which is the better option we often look at:
  • What kind of floors you have
  • The condition of your floors
  • The results you want 
  • And even the cleaning products you use
And yes, you read that last one right. Even some cleaning products can cause some hiccups if you want to recoat your floors (but more on that later).  So in today’s post, we are going to talk about what recoating and refinishing are and how to know which is the best option for you to make those hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming of a reality.

Hardwood recoating 

Hardwood floor recoating can be a great way to preserve and revitalize your floors.  It usually involves adding a top coat to the existing finish to bring back your floor’s original luster by scuffing up the existing hardwood floor finish so the new finish adheres seamlessly.  And while recoating is usually more budget-friendly and takes less time, it’s not always a viable option.

Hardwood refinishing 

Refinishing requires a little more (ok sometimes a lot more work) and is a bit more expensive, but we think it’s totally worth the investment if your floors should need it.  You can learn more about hardwood refinishing and costs by checking out our handy refinishing pricing guide or feel free to contact us for a free estimate So what is involved with refinishing your hardwood? When you refinish your hardwood with Signature Custom Flooring, we use our state of the art dust containment system for no fuss, no muss sanding. We sand down to the bare wood and take a small amount of wood off the top of your current floors.  This is like starting with a blank canvas. So we can not only restore your floors to their natural beauty, but we can also change the look, feel, color, and even texture.  Then we apply multiple coats of the hardwood finish of your choice. And if you have questions about the refinishing process, take a peek at our blog, Top 11 Questions Answered About Having Your Hardwood Floors Refinished As you can see, it’s a bit more labor-intensive and time-consuming, but the results speak for themselves. [caption id="attachment_3333" align="aligncenter" width="300"]worn old wood floor before and after having refinished Having the maple wood floors refinished changed the way the room looks[/caption]

When you should refinish instead of recoat 

The most common reason we recommend refinishing your floors is if they have a lot of wear patterns. This is because recoating doesn’t go deep enough to take care of scratches, dents, or dings that your floors may have developed over the years.  It’s also important to note that if the old finish on your floor has been compromised from wear and tear, the moisture can oxidize the unprotected wood, turning it grey.   So we typically suggest refinishing over recoating if your floors sport grey spots from oxidation.  [caption id="attachment_3334" align="aligncenter" width="300"]wood floor that's finish is worn The finish is gone, exposing the wood to moisture and contaminets[/caption] And if you find yourself wanting to change the color of your floors, this would also be something that requires you to refinish your hardwood. [caption id="attachment_3323" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Flat finish with a modern look to the floor The clients wanted to change the color, so we refinished the wood floor[/caption] For example, if you want to change your floors from dark Brazilian Cherry to grey, then you’d need to do a full-on refinish. 

Cleaning products and recoating your hardwood floors 

Remember when we said that the cleaning products you use can play a role in if recoating or refinishing is the best option for you… Well if you’ve been using:  -Certain types of wax -Orange Glo -Murphy's Oil -Mop & Glo -Bona Polish -Any other similar products that use oils and waxes  Then it’s going to be a challenge to just recoat your floors because these products make it difficult for the new top coat to stick.  Now don’t get us wrong, you can still recoat your floors if you’ve used these products, BUT-- it’s going to be a lot more work to do so.  And if you’re wondering what a lot more work means you can check out our hardwood recoating and dustless sanding video for more info. Taking the right precautions and working with a certified hardwood flooring specialist to recoat your hardwood will ensure that your topcoat will create the beautiful finish you want, instead of peeling off like a bad sunburn.  

Exceptions to the recoating hardwood rule 

There are a few instances when recoating might be an option, when normally, we’d suggest a refinish.  Some clients may choose to recoat if their budget doesn’t allow for a full refinish and they don’t mind the grey spots or wear and tear.  Another scenario is when a customer really loves their current floors and don’t want to change certain aspects of their floor’s look.  A great example of this is when we were called out to take a look at an old reclaimed wood floor (one of our favorite 2020 hardwood floor trends). There were some wear patterns on these floors, but the homeowners loved their rustic look so much that they decided to keep the dents, dings, and scratches rather than sacrifice the vintage look and feel of them. [caption id="attachment_3335" align="aligncenter" width="300"]dust-less reciting of an old wood floor The patina of the wood floor was saved and extra protection was added[/caption] But usually, a situation like this is the exception and not the rule. But it certainly happens.  So if you love the look of your floors, (imperfections and all) or if you want to stay budget-conscious and don’t mind some wear and tear or color variation, then recoating may be the way to go.   

How Signature Custom Flooring can help you breathe life back into your floors 

We know we just threw a lot of info at you, so just to recap.  You might want to refinish your floors if: -There’s significant wear and tear that you want to get rid of  -You want to change the colors of your floors  -Your old surface finish has been compromised and you now have color variation/grey spots on your floors that you want removed -You’ve used one of the cleaners we’ve mentioned above and would rather just do a full refinish  In short, If you’re wanting floors that look brand new with no scratches, dents, dings, or grey spots, then refinishing is your best bet.  But if your hardwood floors are fading and just need a touch-up or you don’t mind a bit of wear and tear, then recoating is the way to go. We love creating one-of-a-kind, beautifully crafted floors that turn a house into your home.   If you’re wanting to restore your floors and make them shine like new in Appleton, WI, or surrounding areas, contact us for a free estimate.  Or you can call us at (920) 279-7871 to speak with our owner, Aaron, directly.