When It’s Time To Recoat Your Engineered Hardwood Floor?

By Cezar

What Is A ‘Screen and Recoat’?

Engineered hardwood is a great compromise between the appearance of natural hardwood and the durability, cost and ease of installation of a composite product. Just like natural hardwood, engineered hardwood flooring is normally finished, which protects the thin top layer of wood from everyday wear and tear and keeps your floor looking shiny and bright.

However, over time this coat of finish can become scuffed, scratched, or simply dulled and thinned. To ensure that the floor is protected and continues looking its best, you’ll need to apply more finish – this is called a “Screen and Recoat” or “Buff and Recoat”, because your floor will first be buffed or “screened” to remove the remaining finish before a fresh coat is applied. This helps extend the longevity of your floor – especially important with engineered hardwood!

While many engineered hardwood flooring products can be buffed and recoated, it’s good to check your specific product just to be sure, as some have factory finishes that can’t truly be buffed out.

How Often Do You Need To Screen And Recoat

Typically, a new finish will last between one to three years on your hardwood floor. You’ll know you need to renew your finish when you start to notice the following:

  • A finish that is growing dull;
  • A finish that is visibly wearing through in high-traffic areas;
  • A finish you want to replace, such as a glossy with a semi-gloss;
  • A finish with light scratches or scuffs.

It’s best to act quickly when you begin to notice these signs, as your floor is vulnerable to damage when the finish wears through. To keep your floor in top condition, you should do a purposeful evaluation of the state of the floor at least once per year to make sure it is protected.

How Long Does A Screen And Recoat Take

Depending on the size of your floor, a screen and recoat will usually take less than 48 hours.

After all furniture, carpets, and other objects that obscure your floor have been removed, the top layer of finish needs to be removed using a buffer or other mechanical sander. This is a delicate job, because the floor needs to be buffed thoroughly enough to remove all residue of the old finish, while avoiding over buffing and damaging any of the floor surface.

This buffing process typically takes several hours, depending on the area of flooring needing to be refinished. It’s important to be patient, thorough, and follow the instructions carefully for whatever appliance you’re using to remove the finish.

Once the buffing process has been completed, a new finish needs to be applied. First, all dust and debris needs to be completely removed from the room. Once this has been completed, apply your new finish according to the instructions on the product. It’s usually a great idea to apply a second coat – depending on whether you have a water or oil-based finish, apply the second coat between two to eight hours after the first.

Finally, you’ll need to carefully wait for your finish to completely dry, which usually takes around 24 hours. It’s a good idea to air out your space as much as possible when drying, so that any odour from the finish has ample opportunity to dissipate. Once this has been completed, you can begin replacing your carpets and furniture.

Why Not Sand

You may have heard before about sanding and refinishing hardwood floors. While this is a valuable option for natural hardwood floors, be careful sanding your engineered hardwood floors! The layer of hardwood on engineered hardwood flooring projects is so thin that it can only withstand one additional sanding – at most – during its lifespan.

For this reason, it’s not recommended that an engineered hardwood floor be sanded unless absolutely necessary. When in doubt, check with the pros.


Screening and recoating your engineered hardwood floor is a great option for protecting your floor and keeping its lustre intact. It’s a good idea to recoat every one to three years to keep engineered hardwood in best condition. As each engineered hardwood flooring product can be different, it’s an excellent idea to consult with a professional before doing a screen and recoat.

In fact, it’s strongly recommended that you use a professional for a screen and recoat. Buffing your floor requires special equipment, and if used incorrectly, it’s easy to remove too much of your flooring surface. Even applying finishing needs to be done with care, as an uneven coat of finish can require a new screening to fix!