What is a Screen and Recoat

A hardwood screen and recoat is the best kept secret in the hardwood flooring world. But it shouldn’t be!

It can save you money and time over the life of your wood floors. Read on now and find out what is meant by the term “screen and recoat.”

Here at Lowcountry Style & Living we know how important hardwood floors are to our customers, and when they have a question or want help with something related to their floors (whether about routine maintenance or other questions) we’re going to step up and provide an answer.

If you have spent time researching, you’ve probably run across the phrase “screen and recoat” being used. We also know that people can toss around jargon like that in an attempt to sound knowledgeable, but in this case the term actually has a specific meaning.

You may have heard the phrase buff and coat, also known as a screen and coat. Some people also refer to this process as “light sanding,” however there is no such thing as “light sanding.” A flooring professional can either sand the floor, which means sanding off the top layer of actual hardwood and getting to a fresh layer of wood, or they can buff the floor with a buffer machine that has been equipped with a screen. This will provide a light abrasion on the top layer of polyurethane and does not touch the actual wood at all.

Image from: Truevalue.com

What Does a “Screen and Recoat” Mean? 

Screening involves removing the top layer of polyurethane, but not the wood underneath. Screening and recoating are usually performed to remove dull and light scratches from the surface of hardwood floors.

As we stated above, this is not to be confused with sanding to wood, only the old polyurethane layer is removed. Recoating involves recoating the wood with a new coat of polyurethane, which can give it more protection.

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In order to get a new coat to adhere to the old one you must lightly abrade or “screen” it. A screen is just a mesh encrusted with abrasive materials. Because it is a mesh, there are fewer abrasive particles per square inch, making it generally less abrasive than sandpaper. (A 120-grit sanding screen, for example, will be less aggressive than 120-grit sandpaper.)

Screens are also used under thick soft pads that further soften the cutting action of the screen. This is desirable because floor screening should only leave enough texture on the floor to allow a new coat of polyurethane to bond.

5 Signs You Need to Recoat Your Hardwood Floors

Are you looking for a change or to give your home a facelift? You may consider recoating your hardwood floors to repair minor damages, change the sheen or texture of the floor, or to reapply the original finish to give your hardwood floors a brand new look.

Picture from: Bobvilla.com

Here are five signs you need to recoat your hardwood floors:

1. Minor scratches, dings, and dents – It’s bound to happen. Heavy traffic, moving furniture, pets and children, and other accidents are only a few reasons behind those minor scratches and dings in your floor. Your hardwood floors will take a beating over their lifetime, and recoating can repair those minor problem areas. We can give your floors the nice smooth finish that you fell in love when you first had them installed.

2. Fading color – You may have some areas on your hardwoods that look dull or gray, especially around your windows or doors. The UV rays from sunlight can make the color fade away over time. It may not be a big issue, but it can make your hardwoods look unhealthy. Recoating and applying a new finish can bring your hardwoods back to life.

3. Hardwood covered by carpet – Have you decided to pull up the carpet that you laid over your hardwoods? Or maybe you just moved into a new home that has carpet covering a beautiful hardwood floor. Although the carpet protects the floor from minor damages, the hardwood will need a finish coat applied to give it a nice look.

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4. Upgrades or repairs to your home – Your hardwoods may need a recoat if you have been making any upgrades or repairs to the inside of your home. Whether you want your home more attractive, or you want to unify your open concept by extending hardwood floors, recoating can be the final touch to bring it all together. Your home will look just as good in the family room as it does when you first walk through the front door.

5. Keep your floor in good condition – You can extend the life of your hardwood floors by recoating them periodically. This will protect them from any minor damages and give them a lasting color. It can also save you a lot of money because refinishing them or replacing them will cost a lot more and will need to be done if your hardwoods are not maintained. 

It is best to recoat your floors before they start to look bad. We recommend recoating your floors at least every three years, sometimes more often depending on the foot traffic. We find this to be true particularly in family rooms and kitchens. You may even want to have them recoated every year to extend the life of your hardwoods. This does not always apply to laminate or engineered wood floors.

Source: Reddit.com

Can Any Hardwood Floor Be Recoated?

Alas, no. Some floors are just too far gone to be saved by a simple recoat. If there is damage at the level of the wood or any part of the subfloor then a screen and recoat may not be a viable option for you.

When a Screen and Recoat is Not Applicable

1. Hardwood floors that have been cleaned with the dreaded Murphy’s Oil Soap, Orange Glo, Mop and Glo, or other cleaners cannot be recoated. These cleaners leave behind waxy, soapy residues that are impossible to get off the floor without sanding it, and even that makes for a lengthy and difficult floor sanding job.

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2. It’s always tricky when dealing with hard finishes like aluminum oxide. These finishes have to be chemically etched, almost like scouring with acid, in order for a surface to be created that will take a new coat of finish.

3. When your floors aren’t actually solid hardwood floors, such as engineered floors, laminate floors, or vinyl floors. These flooring types don’t have enough wear layer to screen. Screening the above floors would lead to damaging them and exposing the composite material underneath the top layers.

Caveat: Engineered wood may contain aluminum oxide which will prevent the new finish from sticking, however, if it is determined that the floor does not contain aluminum oxide and has not been contaminated with store bought polishing products, then a skilled professional, using advances in recent technology, can successfully do a screen and recoat. Trust your professional to give you the best information once they examine your floors.

How Long Does the Screen and Recoat Procedure Take?

When compared to refinishing services (which usually take 3-4 days), screening and recoating does not need much time. It only takes three or four hours to do the screening, or sometimes a half-day depending on the area to be screened. Then an expert will apply the coats of polyurethane. That typically takes 24 hours of drying time before you can walk on it, but will depend if you need one or two coats.

Contrary to popular belief, no further buffing is needed after the finish dries. Polyurethane dries to a predetermined level of shine (satin or semi-gloss, for example). Its luster will be dulled by further buffing or polishing.

What are the Advantages of a Screen and Recoat

When done properly, a screen and recoat allows homeowners to use their hardwood floors much longer without needing a full sanding and refinishing. While it saves homeowners money, it also extends the life of the floors as refinishing removes a layer of the wood each time the process is done. Customers can change the sheen of their floor with a screen and recoat (go from glossy to matte finish, for instance) and give dull floors new life. It’s usually a one day process that is far less expensive than sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor.

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In Summary

Benefits of Screening and Recoating:

  • Refreshes hardwood floors
  • Removes superficial scratches, stains, and imperfections
  • Changes sheen of the floor
  • Adds protection from scratches
  • Prevents the need to sand and refinish
  • Less expensive
  • Prolongs the life of hardwood flooring

Fall in love with your hardwood floors all over again.

Blair Witkowski
Author: Blair Witkowski

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