We will be listing our house for sale in the next month and as anyone who has been through the process knows a series of tedious and time-consuming steps are involved in readying the house for sale to optimize its value and saleability. We have been busy having the house painted, giving away tons of stuff to charity and to people who wanted it – all in an effort to declutter the house. Our hardwood floors although basically in good condition looked rather dull after years of use so I wanted to find a way to “revive” its appearance. I did an extensive amount of research and made numerous inquiries into inexpensive options that would produce the desired results and most hardwood floor contractors made a concerted effort to steer me into spending a lot of money!

One of the sites I came across described the process we followed exactly as stated in the title to this post. It is a process called “screen and recoat” which is the least expensive option when it comes to giving a new lease of life to an existing hardwood floor ……. and it is an option that most hardwood floor vendors and service companies will not even mention because, presumably, it is not as lucrative for them as some of the more expensive options which they try and promote. “Screen and recoat” in essence involves removing any polyurethane that is left on the floor and recoating it with a couple of coats of new polyurethane! It produces a hardwood floor that looks like new! One does not replace any of the existing hardwood floor or do any restaining. It is very different than refinishing the hardwood floor which entails sanding out all the existing stain and then restaining it. Screen and recoat is what we did on about 1600 square feet of hardwood flooring and the results are spectacular ….. and it was done inexpensively.

Screening the floor

Frankly, it is something that someone with decent DIY skills can do oneself but I chose to use an experienced floor guy who was in business for himself who offered me an exceptional price. It took him all of 10 hours – 5 hours the first day when they (he and a helper) moved all of the furniture to one of the rooms. He then proceeded to screen and recoat approximately 1300 sq feet of hardwood flooring. They left and returned the next morning when another coat of poly was applied after light screening of the floor that already had first coat of poly from the previous day.

Recoating the floor with polyurethane

They then returned this morning and moved the furniture back to the rooms that had been completed and proceeded to screen and recoat the one room that had been used to “store” all the furniture in the remaining rooms when they were being worked on. Two coats of poly on the floor of that room and they were done. We said we would return the furniture to that one room the following day.

Some comments about our experience:

We used oil-based polyurethane as opposed to water-based because the former provides a much “richer” appearance.

We did not vacate the house despite the fumes which smell pretty strong and has potential side-effects but instead we moved down to the basement where the smell was a lot less.

Most sites recommend that with oil-based poly, one should not return the furniture to the finished areas for 72 hours. We waited just 24 hours based on the recommendation of our floor guy who said that as long as one did not move the furniture around, it should not adversely affect the finish. There were a couple of sites that also said 24 hours wwas sufficient if one is careful with the furniture.

Some sites recommend using an orbital sander ….. our guy used a buffer and it worked just as well. Incidentally, the “screen” used to prepare the floor before applying poly is really like a piece of mesh that is placed beneath the buffer. It is not a high grit sand-paper which is what I assumed it would be based on all that I had read about this process.

Some additional information for anyone contemplating doing a screen and recoat:

There are several types of finish when one applies poly ranging from “glossy” to “semi-gloss” to “satin”. We went with “satin” which has a sheen to it but less than the other alternatives – just a matter of personal preference.

The price quotes we received showed a huge range from 50% higher than we paid to as much as 400% higher! Paying more does not necessarily get the best result ….. and it pays to shop around.

The site I linked at the start of this post describes the process. Also, check out the Youtube link below to see a video of how to screen and recoat a hardwood floor. In our case there were minor variations in how our floor guy went about doing it but the basics were the same.

YouTube Preview Image

The whitish residue one sees during the screening is the old polyurethane being removed from the floor before the application of a fresh coat of poly. The existing stain remains, for the most part, untouched. One cannot apply a fresh coat of poly on top of the old poly because it will not bond, and the new coat will peel off in due course. The light screening after the first coat before applying the second coat is also done to achieve the proper bonding.

Although we returned the furniture 24 hours after the recoating, we will not return the rugs for a couple of weeks – the curing of the polyurethane would be hampered if the rugs are returned any sooner than two weeks.

I spent literally hours researching the process, checking out pricing, etc. I hope that this is helpful to anyone wanting to give a fresh lease of life to their hardwood floor ….. a screen and recoat really does do it. So save yourself money and check this out as an option if your hardwood floor is in generally good condition but merely needs “restoration” and replensih its sheen.

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3 Responses to ““The best kept secret in the hardwood flooring world””

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