Can I just clean and put a new coat of finish my floors?

Hey y'all! Let's talk about buff and coats.

Now that home renovation season (spring, summer, fall) is in full swing, we receive dozens of phone calls a week of people asking us about sandless refinishing, or "buff and coats". Say you just pulled up carpet that is 15-30 years old and the floors are in pretty good condition, you like the color, etc... Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your floors need to be refinished. 15-20 years of a hardwood floor under carpet most likely has little to no protection left, which means doing 1 buff and coat is only applying 1 layer of protection. Not only that, but more often than not you will have pet urine stains all over the floor, which means if you do find someone willing to complete your buff and coat the odds of an issue popping up are almost at 99% likely. And by issues I mean a contamination with the finish which will make the polyurethane cloudy, streaky, and etc.. It is the goal of a business to make money; however, it is not our goal to lie to you or mislead you - even if it means missing out on your business. If we recommend that you need to refinish your floors, we are giving you our honest and professional opinion. If we advise you that you need to refinish them and you are persistent that you want a buff and coat, we absolutely will do that for you but we do not guarantee it will work and are not liable for any bad reactions. 

Here below is what Tadas Sadunas has to say about buff and coats, he owns one of the leading wood refinishing companies in Chicago and is a master of his field:

"You may have seen some of these new businesses coming out of the woodwork promising amazing results for your floors by just using a “newly discovered” recoating system that is completely sand free. They promise fast, dust free results that are the same or better than traditional hardwood floor refinishing.

For one thing, these systems have been around for a long time and are used by most if not all traditional, professional floor refinishers. Basically it involves using a type of chemical cleaner and a buffer to abrade the top coat of an existing floor and then a new top coat of finish is applied.

Some guys have found it to be faster, easier money as they don’t have to invest in expensive proper tools and equipment to do a complete restoration.

And the truth is in some cases it can be a great option. But… (and this is a big but) your floors have to be in very good shape originally for this to be a viable option. If you have dings, scratches, bruises, stains, greyed wear through areas or any other damage to the actual wood – not just the finish – then no matter how many recoats you do, they will not be removed. That’s what a lot of these guys “forget” to tell you.

If you just recoat over damage, you’ll just have a nice shiny new top coat that highlights the damaged parts even more. A total waste of time and money.

If this really worked as some guys promise, why wouldn’t we be offering it and only specialize in ‘dustless, no-sanding recoats’ too? It would be much easier on us and we’d definitely make more money.

The truth is, the only way to remove this type of wear and damage is to completely remove the existing finish, take the floor back to bear wood, repair the damaged areas and then apply a whole new finish system. Then you’ll have floors that are even better than new because of the latest finishes we can apply.

On the other hand, if your hardwood floor have been restored by us previously and you have followed our cleaning and maintenance instructions, then a clean and recoat could most certainly be an option. (This assumes that the finish is not totally worn through and you are not worried about removing most of the surface scratches.)

In fact recoating your floors every 5 to 10 years is highly recommended. If you have a chance to do them before the finish wears through, it will most certainly prolong the life of your hardwood and reduce the need for re-sanding them down the road.

Just to give you the heads up – we won’t recoat floors that we haven’t previously restored. This is because out of all the hardwood restoration processes, recoats have the biggest failure rates. And it’s always the same thing that causes it – the homeowner hasn’t followed good care instructions and now waxes, oils or some other type of chemical has been applied or spilled on the floor which now prevents the new finish from adhering. Even the “recoat specialists” have high failure rates that you can read about on many forums all over the internet.

Yes, doing it properly and right will cost a little more and take a bit longer, but we feel the exceptionally better end results are worth it."


Thank you for reading! And as always, please email me if you have any questions.

Christine Tosland