Breathe New Life into Your Hardwood Floors: Buff and Coat vs. Sand and Refinish

By Cezar

Hardwood floors are a timeless addition to any home, imbuing warmth, character, and lasting value. But even the most durable wood succumbs to the wear and tear of daily life. Scratches, scuffs, and a dull finish can leave your floors looking worse for wear. The good news is, there’s no need to rip them out entirely! Two effective restoration methods, including hardwood floor restoration, can bring your hardwood floors back to their former glory: buff and coat, and sand and refinish.

Buff and Coat: A Cost-Effective Revitalization

This less intensive process is ideal for hardwood floors with minor imperfections. The buff and coat method focuses on reviving the top layer of the existing finish, restoring its shine, and addressing light scratches and scuffs.

The Process:

  1. Deep Cleaning: Thorough removal of dirt, grime, and wax buildup.
  2. Scuff Sanding: Light abrasion of the top finish layer to create a textured surface.
  3. Buffing: Polishing the floor to even out the surface and remove remaining imperfections.
  4. Coating: Application of a fresh polyurethane coat to protect and enhance the wood’s lustre.

Benefits of Buff and Coat:

  1. Cost-Effective: Significantly less expensive than sanding and refinishing.
  2. Faster Turnaround: Minimizes disruption to your daily routine.
  3. Minimal Dust: Ideal for those with respiratory sensitivities.
  4. Maintains Existing Stain: No need to worry about a colour change.

When to Consider Buff and Coat:

  • Dull Finish: The once-gleaming surface appears lifeless and lacks shine.
  • Minor Scratches: Light scratches and scuffs are visible but haven’t penetrated deep into the wood.
  • High-Traffic Areas: Showing signs of wear, but the damage is superficial.
  • Preventative Maintenance: Every 3–5 years to extend the life of your floors.

Wood Floor Buff and Coat

Sanding and Refinishing: A Comprehensive Restoration

For hardwood floors with significant damage, sanding and refinishing is the more extensive solution. This process removes the entire existing finish and a thin layer of wood, revealing fresh wood beneath, allowing for a complete transformation.

The Process:

  1. Furniture Removal: Clearing the room for unhindered sanding and finishing.
  2. Coarse Sanding: A powerful drum sander removes the existing finish and levels uneven surfaces.
  3. Edge Sanding: Addressing areas inaccessible to the drum sander.
  4. Fine Sanding: Smoothing out any remaining imperfections.
  5. Vacuuming and Cleaning: Thorough dust removal for a flawless finish.
  6. Staining (Optional): Opportunity to change the wood’s colour.
  7. Coating: Multiple coats of polyurethane for protection and enhanced beauty.

Benefits of Sanding and Refinishing:

  1. Complete Restoration: Addresses extensive damage, returning floors to their pristine condition.
  2. Colour Change: Allows for a complete transformation of the wood’s appearance.
  3. Long-Lasting Results: This can significantly extend the lifespan of your hardwood floors.

When to Consider Sanding and Refinishing:

  • Deep Scratches: Penetrating beyond the reach of a buff and coat.
  • Gouges and Dents: Unsightly marks requiring a level surface.
  • Water Damage: Warping, buckling, or discoloration caused by moisture exposure.
  • Worn-Through Finish: Exposing bare wood in high-traffic areas.
  • Uneven Wear: Noticeable inconsistencies in the finish across the floor.
  • Faded or Discoloured Finish: Sun exposure or harsh cleaning products.
  • Preventative Maintenance: Every 10–15 years for heavily used floors.

Buff and Coat vs. Sanding and Refinishing: Factors to Consider

When deciding between buff and coat or sanding and refinishing, there are several key factors to consider:

    • Cost-Effective: Buff and coat is significantly less expensive than sanding and refinishing, making it a budget-friendly option for hardwood floor restoration.
    • Disruption: The buff and coat process is faster and creates less dust, minimizing the disruption to your daily routine.
    • Stain Colour: If you’re satisfied with the current stain colour, a buff and coat will maintain it, whereas sanding and refinishing allow for a complete colour change.
    • The extent of Damage: For light scratches and a dull finish, a buff and coat is sufficient. However, for deep scratches, gouges, water damage, or a worn-through finish, sanding and refinishing is the more comprehensive solution.
    • Long-Term Results: Sanding and refinishing provide longer-lasting results, effectively extending the lifespan of your hardwood floors for decades.

Sanding Hardwood Floors in Vancouver Area

DIY or Professional? Considerations for Both

Both buff and coat and sanding and refinishing can be DIY projects, but the latter requires specialized equipment and expertise to achieve a professional-looking finish. For extensive floor damage, hiring a qualified floor sanding professional is highly recommended.


Hardwood floors are an investment in the beauty and value of your home. Buff and coat and sanding and refinishing are effective restoration techniques to breathe new life into tired floors. By understanding the signs of wear and the strengths of each method, you can choose the best approach to revitalize your hardwood floors and enjoy their timeless elegance for years to come. Remember, a well-maintained floor is an investment that pays off in the long run, and incorporating hardwood floor restoration into your maintenance routine can ensure your floors remain a stunning feature of your home.