Can You Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors?
The short answer is – It is possible to refinish engineered hardwood floors if they have a thick enough wood veneer layer. The veneer is the real wood layer glued down and compressed to the composite material layer under it. Not all engineered floors are the same; some have as little as 1mm of real wood veneer, while others may have 7mm or more. It is important to note that the thickness of the veneer wear layer will determine if, or how often, the floor can be sanded and refinished. If the wear layer is too thin, such as a 1mm thickness, your floors will be irreversible be damaged if sanded, even if it’s the first time they’ve been sanded. 1mm of veneer is simply not enough to sand. So, If you have engineered floors with a 1mm or 2mm veneer layer, no, they can’t be refinished, unfortunately.
What Type of Wood Floor Do You Have?
The very first step is to identify what type of floors you have. There are many laminates and vinyl flooring products that are designed to look exactly like wood planks. Neither laminate flooring or vinyl flooring can be refinished. They are not real wood but are made of composite material, and sanding them would result in irreversible damage. So we can’t stress enough, determine, without a doubt, whether you have real solid hardwood or engineered hardwood floors first. Determining what your floors are made of can be tricky. Contact the manufacturer, installers, or store where you purchased them if possible. You may need to contact the previous homeowners if that’s applicable. When all else fails, have a professional come out and help you determine the answer.
Engineered and Solid Hardwood
There are many wood floor covering types, but the two most common are engineered wood and solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made of a layer of real wood glued down over plywood layers and/or composite material. Solid hardwood is a solid piece of wood that is generally 3/4 of an inch in thickness.
Engineered floors are generally thinner than solid hardwood. If your flooring has layers of alternating materials, then it’s most likely engineered. However, some laminates and vinyl planks are layered as well.
What are Engineered Hardwood Floors?
Simply put, engineered hardwood is a manufactured flooring type with a real wood layer added on top of plywood and/or composite material. Engineered hardwood floors are not necessarily inferior to solid hardwood. There are expensive types that are thick, and budget-friendly types that are thinner. All engineered flooring is made from natural wood, which is cut into thin veneer slices. These slices are layered over plywood and/or composite material. Higher-end engineered floors have a thicker real wood wear layer and provide stability as good as solid hardwood, if not better. The top layer is always a natural wood veneer, made from any number of wood species.
Do You Need to Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors?
The next question is if your floors need to be refinished. People are often surprised to learn that in certain cases, wood floors may not need to be refinished. If the only problem you’re having is that your floors have become dull and have lots of little surface scratches, and have lost their luster, chances are you don’t need to refinish them. Another service we call a screen and recoat may be all they need. If this description resonates with you, consider a screen and recoat service instead. That said, if there are deep scratches, worn finish in high traffic areas, and stain wearing off in areas, chances are they will benefit from full sand and refinishing. A screen and recoat is about half the expense of a full refinishing service.
How To Tell If Your Floor Can Be Refinished
As mentioned earlier, once you’ve determined that you have engineered floors, the next step is determining the veneer thickness. This can be found by either visually inspecting the profile of the plank from a floor register or return, or by getting that information from a receipt, or original box, or by looking it up online. If the thickness of the veneer layer is 3mm or more, chances are they can be sanded and refinished. The thicker the veneer layer, the better. Depending on the type of wood it’s made of, you may have the option of choosing a different stain color as well.
How Many Times Can You Sand Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
The answer to this is entirely dependent on the current thickness of the wood layer. For floors with 5mm or more, they can be sanded up to three times before the wear layer is depleted and the plywood or composite material underneath is exposed. At that point, they would be permanently damaged. Another determining factor is how aggressive the previous sanding was as well. Not all professional floor contractors sand the same way. An inexperienced refinisher may sand away too much material to where you will no more opportunities to sand again. So the bottom line is how many times they can be sanded will depend on the current wood overlay thickness and how much material is sanded off with each subsequent sanding.
Can You Change the Stain Color of Engineered Wood Floors?
If your engineered floors are sandable, then you may be able to stain them a different color once the old stain is removed. In some cases, you may need to choose a darker similar color if the existing stain is too far absorbed in the wood overlay. In such a case, you may have the option to choose a slightly different color stain. It depends on several factors, such as the natural color of the wood, how embedded the current stain is, and whether you’re okay with a less uniform stain color for your floors. In most cases, you won’t be able to lighten the color with a new stain color, however, you can opt not to add a new stain but instead bring out the natural colors of the wood instead. This holds true especially if the natural color of the wood is lighter than the stain removed in the sanding process.
Should You Recoat or Refinish Your Floors?
If your floors are looking dull and in need of a refresh, you may be wondering whether they need a recoat or if they require a full refinishing. There are several recoating options available. If your floors are just dull and dirty, they may just need a professional hardwood floor cleaning. This is a deep cleaning process that uses a buffer pad to deep scrub the dirt and grime out and then polished with a cotton bonnet pad on a 175 rotary buffer. If your floors are dull, dirty, and have lots of surface scratches, then they would benefit from a screen and recoat. A screen and recoat lightly abrades the surface of the existing finish without removing it entirely. Once this is done, several new top coats are applied. It’s a quick and less expensive way to give your floors a new lease on life. If your floor is in bad shape, such as having deeper scratches, a worn finish, and bare wood showing in areas, it will need the full refinishing process. Refinishing is a more intensive process that may require days to complete depending on the square footage.
Other Things to Consider when Refinishing Engineered Hardwood Floors
Having your floors refinished can be a fairly large project depending on how many rooms and total square feet. A few things to keep in mind when having your floors refinished are; all the baseboards and quarter rounds will need to be removed. The floors will need to be sanded to the walls to avoid old stain and finish showing around the perimeter of the room(s). Also, be sure to ask the professional to tape off rooms that aren’t going to be worked in to minimize dust from entering those rooms. All furniture and all items will need to be removed from rooms that will be refinished. Plan ahead because you may not have access to those rooms for days, even up to a week. There is a curing time for the new finish as well, it’s best not to return furniture and heavier items onto the floors until the polyurethane finish has fully cured.
Refinishing vs. Replacing Hardwood Floors
There is nothing more satisfying than saving wood floors from being replaced. In almost every situation, it’s going to be more cost affordable to refinish floors than to replace them. However, as an honest company, there are cases when we encourage homeowners to consider their options on whether to refinish or replace. Sometimes floors are just beyond the threshold of saving, and that’s when we’re upfront and forthcoming about expectations, especially if the expectations are having brand new-looking floors after they’ve been refinished. Engineered floors can have a shorter lifespan than solid hardwood floors and there are rare scenarios when it might be better to replace them. We do encourage that you consult with a professional wood floor refinishing company that just provides refinishing services and doesn’t provide installation services. Selling new floor installation is a bigger ticket item, so be careful that you’re not being prematurely steered to purchase new floors when your current floors can be refinished.
How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Engineered Wood Floors?
If you’re considering refinishing your engineered floors, the cost will be roughly the same as refinishing solid hardwood floors. That’s because the work involved is roughly the same. Ultimately the cost will depend on a few factors, including the size of your floors, whether aluminum oxide is present in the current finish, and the condition of your floors.
To get an accurate estimate of how much it will cost to refinish your hardwood floors, it’s best to consult a professional flooring contractor. We will be able to assess your floors and give you a detailed quote. Generally, professional refinishing of engineered floors ranges from $5 to $7 per square foot. So, for a 12×12 room, you can expect to pay between $720 and $1008 for refinishing. Of course, the final cost will depend on the condition of your floors. If your floors don’t have an aluminum oxide prefinish, and just need regular sanding and refinishing, the cost will be on the lower end of the spectrum. However, if your floors are in bad shape and require more work, the cost may be higher.
The Process to Refinish Engineered Hardwood
While refinishing engineered hardwood floors is about the same as refinishing solid hardwood floors, there are a few things we keep in mind to ensure the best results. Here are the steps we take to refinish engineered hardwood floors:
1. If contaminates are present, we start by deep cleaning the floors. We remove all of the dirt, dust, grime, and debris from the surface of the engineered hardwood floors so that we don’. This can be done with a vacuum and a mop.
2. Once the floors are clean, we’ll begin sanding them. We’ll start with 36-grit sandpaper to sand the floors and switch out to 60, 80, and 100-grit sandpaper with every pass.
3. After the floors have been sanded, we can apply a stain, but it is optional.
4. Once the stain has been applied, it will take up to 2 to 4 hours to dry. The stain we use is a commercial-grade product that has a built-in sealer.
5. Finally, we’ll apply several topcoats. Topcoats are available in satin, low-gloss, and high-gloss.