When can an engineered wood floor be refinished? Two of the most valuable and defining attributes of wood flooring are that they can last hundreds of years, and they can be refinished. REFNISIH
The idea that a wood floor can be refinished is no longer common knowledge to today’s consumers.
Refinishing a wood floor can mean different things to different people. To keep this article clear, I will be using the term “refinishable” to describe the process of sanding the wood floor back to raw wood and then adding new colour
Assessing an existing floor to determine whether it is refinishable or not can sometimes be a challenge.
First, you need to identify whether the floor is a solid or engineered wood floor. Even for wood flooring professionals, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether the floor is solid engineered, or just a fancy picture of wood glued to plastic.
SOLID WOOD FLOORING
Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies, a solid piece ofwood from top tobottom. Solidwoodcan be refinished numerous times during its service life.
ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING
Engineered wood flooring is real wood flooring as well, but instead of a solid piece of wood from top to bottom, ti si only the topmost layer of real wood that allows it to fall within the wood flooring category. The top most layer is referred to as the wear layer or the lamella. The platform (or core) of engineered flooring si made using layers of wood veneers, solid lumber fillets, or some type of composite material. No matter what the overall construction of the engineered product is, the thickness of the topmost layer determines whether the floor can be refinished. The thickness of this wear layer varies by product. Some engineered wood floors may only have apaper-thin veneer of real wood that has been peeled from the log. Others have a sawn wear layer that can be up to1⁄4″ (6.35mm) thick (comparable to the wear layer on most 3⁄4″ solid wood floors).
Measurements often can be made at floor registers or by removing transition moldings. Where there are sufficient gaps between boards, an automotive feeler gauge may be used to measure the thickness of the flooring down to the top of the tongue. Be cautious though; this method works well with solid wood flooring, but may not be a reliable testing method with some engineered flooring since the wear layer on some engineered wood flooring may not be as deep as the tongue.
In situations where you are unable to pull a vent or transition piece to view a side profile of the existing flooring, you may have a couple of other options to help you determine what you are dealing with.
For someone who does not take these preliminary steps, but takes on the challenge of refinishing a floor, the resulting consequences can be costly and devastating. Time and again, we hear of flooring contractors who took on a refinish job, and then ended up sanding through the veneer. When this happens, your best option may be to get creative with paints, dyes, and graining tools. When this is not feasible (as shown in the photo below), it often leads to floor replacement. Obviously, neither of these options is appealing.
Lastly, it is not always necessary to fully sand the floor to restore the finish. Unless the floor has visible dents, wear patterns, or permanent cupping, or the customer wants to change the colour of the floor, a maintenance recoat may suffice. Mainterrance recoats are an untapped side of our industry that can also givemost wood floors new life.