One of the most vexing issues homeowners face with an older floor that was refinished twenty to thirty years ago is how to improve its appearance without sanding the surface. I’ve heard the frustration in homeowner’s voices time and again as they seek to improve the look of the surface without the disruption and loss of wood that traditional sanding brings and this is why I’ve become so focused on Clean & Recoat. There are a number of coating manufacturers that have focused on this and offer excellent products and technical support.

Clean & Recoat is exactly what it sounds like. The surface is thoroughly cleaned using chemical cleaners that are formulated to break up typical surface contaminants and get them off the floor. There is no sanding and the finish stays intact and on the surface. Once the prep work is completed, new applications of finish are applied to the old finish.

A Before and After

Here is a before shot of a Clean & Recoat project. This was a kitchen floor in a house near me. The floors are a yellow pine and the wood had a lot of dirt and grime worn down into it. No sanding was required.

. . . And here is the “after” shot of the floor.

Clean & Recoat is a fast, efficient and economical way of improving the appearance of an older floor. It has its limits and homeowners are advised to learn what it will and will not accomplish to make sure it will meet their expectations. I made this video to help homeowners better understand the process and enable them to make informed decisions. After you finish the video, I’d suggest you check out these FAQ to complete your study of Clean & Recoat.

Clean & Recoat FAQ

How expensive is Clean & Recoat?

Prices will vary but typically a contractor will charge you less than what they would charge you for sanding and refinishing the floor. Pricing will depend on how much time they spend cleaning a floor, the type of finish they use and the number of applications of finish they make. Get several estimates but pay careful attention to how long they will take, how they will prep the surface and the type of finish they will use.

What’s the difference between Clean & Recoat and Screen & Recoat?

Any time a floor is being recoated, there’s the chance of failure do to poor bonding and adhesion. In my opinion, screening a floor is a very poor choice for prepping the surface for recoating because it does not clean the surface and get rid of contaminants so the chance for adhesion failure goes up significantly. Second, the screen back disc is a sanding device and can easily damage an old finish. Clean & Recoat uses synthetic pads and are much easier on an old finish.

How much time does Clean & Recoat take?

We typically spend the first day using the cleaners and synthetic pads to scrub the floor and let the surface dry overnight. We use the second day to apply multiple applications of waterborne finishes. The floors can handle light foot traffic within four to five hours and are fully cured in five days. Other finishes may have longer dry/cure times so always check with the contractor for that information.

Is this a dusty, smelly process?

The smell of the chemicals used to clean the floors is comparable to typical household cleaners and are not toxic or hazardous. The buffers we use have dust containment systems attached to vacuums to minimize any dust from prep work. We only work with waterborne urethanes that have no offensive odors. Done correctly, Clean & Recoat is the least invasive recoating process on the market today.

I’ve seen recoating advertised by a number of companies that are not wood floor contractors. Are these reliable services?

Within the last ten years we’ve seen a lot of franchise operations popping up offering some type of recoat option and usually with a proprietary finish of some type. I’m very leery of these operations as I feel very strongly that wood floor contractors have the best understanding of the surface and would be better prepared to deal with the variables that may pop up. The wood flooring industry also has very strong support from coatings manufacturers in terms of proper equipment and materials needed to successfully recoat an old floor. Finally, the best finishes for wood floors are not proprietary and are found at wood floor distributors. If proprietary finishes are part of the sale pitch, it’s a red flag to for me.

Can all wood floors be recoated?

Understand that my focus is on old floors, not prefinished or engineered floors that are popular in new construction. If an old floor has been maintained with paste waxes, recoating will not be an option. The wax will create adhesion problems and failure is much more likely. You also want to test for acrylic waxes as they can compromise adhesion of a new finish unless carefully removed. If you do have a factory finished floor (prefinished and/or engineered flooring) or UV-cured finish, you want to check with the manufacturers for guidance on this question.

How long will a Clean & Recoat last?

With proper care and maintenance and by following a common sense approach to reduce wear and damage, a floor that’s been recoated can give you years of excellent service. I’ve seen floors that I recoated more than ten years ago that are still in very good shape. Most floors that are being recoated will be getting a waterborne finish and these finishes are very good and easily maintained.