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Hardwood Floor Finishes

Many times customers will ask if they should focus on engineered wood floors that have a thick veneer or wear layer. Many of them have been told that if they buy an engineered wood floor with a thick wear layer it can be sanded and re-finished if needed.

I typically recommend against re-finishing engineered hardwood floors primarily because the finishes that are used today are so much harder than 15 to 20 years ago. Today’s finishes typically come with 25-50 year warranties. The finishes that are applied at the factory on the engineered wood floor are so much stronger and last longer than any finish that can be applied on site. The best strategy is to maintain the factory finish as long as possible. If a wood floor is properly cared for there should not be a reason it would need to be refinished.

Another reason I don’t recommend refinishing an engineered wood floor is because most of today’s wood is handscraped. By the time the floor is sanded smooth you will have lost the texture of the original wood floor. Even engineered wood that has a very thick wear layer will be almost sanded through by the time it is finished.

I recommend the following strategies to insure that you get the most value out of your engineered wood floor:

1. Too many engineered wood floors are ruined by using the wrong maintenance. Only use recommended hardwood floor cleaner with a dust mop. Never use Murphy’s oil soap, furniture polish or wet mops on your engineered wood floor.

2. Maintain at least 1 box of additional materials for potential repairs. If you have an area that needs to be repaired you can simply use the extra materials to have a board or two removed and replaced. Engineered wood floors are fairly easy to repair as long as the same material is available.

3. Should your engineered wood floor start to show some wear in the finish you can have additional coats of polyurethane added. This process is called a screen and re-coat and may be necessary after 15-20 years of wear.

As manufacturers continue to improve on the engineered wood floors they are making expect to see thinner veneer layers but improved finishes that will give you long years of service.


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