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screen and recoat hardwood floors?



We just bought our first house; there's hardwood floors in the kitchen and the sunroom, the surface is largely in decent shape with some high-traffic areas and stain marks from flower pots. We haven't moved in yet, so I'd like to freshen up the floors; I would also like to avoid sanding since we just the interior painted (and I don't feel like i have the guts to go that far). After some googling it appears what I want is "screen and recoat". Any ideas as to what kind of results I should expect from this process and what kind of tools/supplies I'll need to accomplish it?




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Posted 2011-07-22T13:44:45+0000  by ae5880 ae5880

Hey Andrey!


I just wanted to follow up on the great how-to tips that MaintSup83 has given and answer your last questions in the order in which you asked them. I worked at my Home Depot for years in the paint department, and I want to help you get the right tools for your hardwood floors.


do I screen with a plain sanding block and sandpaper? or a sanding screen?


Since you are just doing a kitchen and sunroom, you can decide on doing this manually with a pole sander or renting out a motorized sander with screens for the machine. 


Screens are simply sandpaper on an open faced grid-like paper that allow dust and wood particles through it instead of solid sandpaper to prevent clogging, but you still will have dust. Screens are just another nomenclature for sanding and refinishing your floors. If the thought of renting and using a machine sounds too bulky for you, you can use the pole sander that has screened sandpaper. 


Depending on how bad the water stains are from your flowers pots, they hopefully can be taken out with the 150 grit sandpaper that MaintSup83 suggested. I would definitely say this project would need a small sanding sponge block as you asked, to get around tight areas and into corners. For the manual approach, refer to the pictures below of the pole sander, paper, as well as sanding sponge block to get those water marks off your hardwoods....

floor sanding access..JPG



We do sell sanding blocks with handles, and that maybe a better option for you, but I find the sanding sponge works great for those corner and tight spots. After sanding, no matter if you use a square buff motorized sander or pole sander to remove any residue left on the floor from the sanding. This step is important because for the top coat of polyurethane to dry properly, it's surface needs to be clean and free of dust and debris. MaintSup83 already went through that step in great detail in his post, but you can also use a tack cloth to effectively get harder to reach areas as well. The tack cloth works as a 'grime magnet' if you will, that can effectively get up dust too. It's a less harsher alternative to mixing alcohol with water on your floors, but you can use both. Below is a picture of it....

tack cloth.JPG

If you are interested in renting a sander for this job, it takes know-how of the machine, but it will save you time on this project. Renting a square buff sander is the ideal choice and it would eliminate using the pole sander. They work like a powerized larger pole sander by putting whatever grit sandpaper you like on the machine to use. The only big trick is to not let the machine idle or sit for too long over an area, so the sander won't cut through the layers of stain as well. Any Home Depot that has a Tool Rental center has it, and this is what it looks like...

square buff.JPG



In the next question you asked...


do you suggest screening between urethane coats? or only before the final one?


Yes! By sanding between coats you give the additional urethane coats enough 'tack' or hold to stick to the previous coats. Only sand in between coats and the only grit you should be using at this step is a 220 grit, which is the finest grit that is typically used on wood floors. You can go higher, but the 220 works great without damaging the layer underneath. At the final coat, simply apply with a lambs wool applicator over the previously dried coat and let dry!


In your last question you stated...


do I also screen and apply urethane to the baseboards and shoe moldings? they have some paint splashes from previous paint jobs...


I would only do that step if your baseboards and shoe moldings are stained just like your hardwood floors. If they are painted, the polyurethane, if you use an oil-based kind, will eventually yellow over the painted surface. If it is stained like your hardwood floors, you can implement the same sanding steps as your floors, but you will need to remove the paint splashes from your moldings. 


Hope this answers your questions, and anymore please let us know here on the community,


Best Answer

Posted 2011-07-23T16:21:09+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

While nothing compares to the look of completely refinished hardwood floors, screening can produce a beautiful finish to lightly worn floors.  I am a maintenance supervisor who has screened and top coated hardwood floors on my property with much succeess... and sometimes a little failure.  Here is what i've found about screening and top coating floors:


1.  If there are deep gouges, black spots from water penetrating into the wood, or an uneven finish (meaning the current finish isn't the same color through out), this will be amplified with screening.  A way to prevent the black spots or water stains is the get a random orbit sander and pay close attention to these parts.  Also, a little bleach and water together can help remove the black stains.


2.  Should you choose to screen an top coat make sure you take time to prep.  Before screening, ventilate the room and mix equal parts denatured alcohol and water and mop onto the floor to remove wax and other grimy buildup.  There is an odor, and alcolol is flammable so please make sure to ventilate!  After this step screen away!  I reccommend a 120 grit black sand paper.  It lasts the longest and gives the most even rough up.  Make sure to sand with the grain of the wood or the marks may be visible.  Also vaccuum after roughing to remove any dust and debris.  I also recommend wiping the base board too to remove any dust and debris.


3.  Chose a top coat designed for floors.  If regular poly urethane is used it will come right up in a matter of months.  Also, identify the type of finish alread on the floor.  Oil based top coats will penetrate into the wood, also if the floor is not stained it is also probably an oil base. Oil based stains will also have a yellowing effect that provides the warm glow on natural hardwood floors.  As for product I recommend using Varithane or Minwax super fast drying oil-based poly.  They go on well and provide a nice even finish.  I also recomment a satin finish as this will hide any tiny imperfections in the floor.


4.  Do not use a roller to apply.  Special lambs wool pads are made for this job.  Soak the pad in the appropriate solvent before use (i.e. mineral spirits for oil based top coats, and water for water based top coats).  This will assure a smooth finish and will keep the pad from getting gummy due to drying of the top coat on the pad.  When applying the top coat be sure to go with the grain of the wood (meaning run the lenght of the boards).  It a diagonal motion is used or going across the boards, a smear will be noticed.  Also, invest is in top quality china bristle brushes for coating around the room and hard to reach areas.  You will absolutely regret it if you don't.


5.  When done, be sure no to walk on floor for 24 hours and only light foot traffic when necssary should be used there after.  Don't move any furniture back on the floor for 3 days.  The finish has to harden.  After the three days, i suggest renting a floor buffer and appropriate pads/polish to really make the floor beautiful.  The buffer takes out any imperfections in the finished product to give it a very smooth even look by removing pad and brush strokes, high spots due to residual dust etc.


Hope this is helpful.  A whole house can be cleaned screened and top coat in less than a day.  It takes me about 3-4 hours to do perfrom the job on a 1000 sq.ft. apartment. 


Happy DIY Project!


Posted 2011-07-22T14:45:05+0000  by MaintSup83

Thanks for the prompt and detailed reply!


A few more questions:


do I screen with a plain sanding block and sandpaper? or a sanding screen?


do you suggest screening between urethane coats? or only before the final one?


do I also screen and apply urethane to the baseboards and shoe moldings? they have some paint splashes from previous paint jobs...



Posted 2011-07-22T15:03:39+0000  by ae5880

I recently refinished my old hardwood floors and applied the second and final coal of polyurethane on it two days ago.  I screened and wiped down the first coat of poly with mineral spirits and thought it looked pretty good at that point.  Is it OK to screen and wipe down the final coat with mineral spirits or will it show scratch marks? 

Posted 2012-05-08T16:22:51+0000  by Donna2012

Hey Donna2012,


Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!


Screening and sanding the polyurethane between all coats is best practice, but it is one that IS NOT needed for the final coat. The reason you are screening between coats is so to allow the subsequent top coats to adhere properly to the previous ones.Since nothing is going over the final coat, nothing is needed except making sure any dust and debris isn't sticking or going on top of it.


The final coat simply needs to dry and be wiped down after drying for any left over residue and sanding particles that settled. I would only LIGHTLY apply mineral spirits to a wiping cloth and wipe over the dried surface quickly to ensure and embedded particles came up. Any direct application or sanding to the final top coat can and most likely will result in scratch marks, which is the reason you refinished the hardwoods in the first place.


So, leave the top coat as is and make sure it is dust-free and you'll be enjoying your renovated hardwood floors in no time at all!


Let us know if you have any further questions,


Posted 2012-05-14T18:48:35+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

you can use a roller with oil based poly on floors. use a 1/4" nap mohair roller and dip the whole roller into a pan of poly..not a roller pan just a plastic not worry about drips and roll it on your floor. I always got lint bumps with lambs wool apps and tried a roller and the results are fantastic. the finish is smooth as glass with no bumps. I will always use a roller on floors. I just wish I would of started using a roller sooner. I did 1200 sq' floor in about 2 hours.

Posted 2013-01-05T17:02:08+0000  by yardstick

is it possible to stain floors when you screen and recoat?  we have engineered hardwoods and screening & recoating seems to be the solution.  unfortunately, i dislike the color...almost an orange colored oak, maybe honey oak?  what are your thoughts on changing the color of stain?  thanks for any advice, darlene

Posted 2013-07-24T20:11:37+0000  by d_and_j

This is a great thread and really appreciate the knowledgable feedback.  I was taken back a bit on the 3 days before 'moving back in' but fully understand.  How long should we wait between coats though?

Posted 2014-01-03T17:12:31+0000  by jbpeek

Hey jbpeek,


Thanks for joining us here on the community!


You'll have to read the instructions for the floor-rated polyurethane for specfic drying time. For example, water based versions dry significantly faster than their oil-based counterparts.


I typically wait about 4-6 hours, but again, it really depends on the manufacturer's instructions on what is the optimum drying time.


If you have a lot of rooms to do, it maybe a better idea to work with one at time. That way, you can still have livable areas and not get over your head with moving furniture and items all at once.


Please let me know if you have any further questions, and I'm glad you found this information useful.



Posted 2014-01-04T15:16:32+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL

Great, that's perfect.  We're topcoating most of first floor (roughly 5 rooms worth of space).  Will do first room (that's seperate from larger space) and evaluate how to tackle larger space.


Again, thanks for the knowledgeable advice and now that I know you folks have a community knowledge base, I'll be checking in when I've got questions!  Have a great week-end.

Posted 2014-01-04T16:14:05+0000  by jbpeek
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