Looking to install hardwood flooring in your home?
Then it will be smart of you to get acquainted with the flooring industry jargon before investing. There are terms that people often use to appear knowledgeable, but sometimes they are actually meaningful.
If you have ever spoken to any hardwood flooring professional (or read any hardwood flooring blogs), you probably have heard of the phrase “screen and recoat”. Even if you have not, you should. This is one of the most well-hidden secrets of the hardwood flooring industry that could be a money saver for you.
What Exactly Does It Mean to Screen and Recoat?
Also commonly mistaken as “buff and coat”, the term “screen and recoat” refers to the scuffing or scraping of the floor, and layering it with an additional coating of polyurethane.
People often make the mistake of thinking screening and recoating to be the same as buffing the hardwood floors, since in both methods a floor buffer machine (picture below) is used. The difference is that in this case a thin screen is used in place of the standard buffing pad.
The floor is gently scuffed up with the buffing machine first, which is the “screening” part. After that, the application of polyurethane on the floor is what is known as “recoating”.
What Is a Screen?
The “screen” is a coarse-particle covered mesh, that is not as aggressive as sandpaper since there are less coarse particles per square inch in it. Furthermore, to soften the cutting action of the screen, thick soft pads are used. This is to make sure that while screening, only a tiny fraction of the pre-existing finish is removed from the floor, and there is enough texture left for the new polyurethane coating to bond.
Screening and recoating your floor from time to time, is going to reduce your labour, time and cost, while keeping the wood flooring underneath, good as new.
How Often Should Your Floor Be Recoated?
Your hardwood floor requires proper care from time to time, and in a previous blog, we have mentioned about the dos and don’ts of maintenance. Screening and coating are a part of the process, especially if your floor has a polyurethane finishing.
With time, the plastic layer of the finishing erodes away from getting scratched every year. That is the purpose of the layer- to protect the wood underneath. But letting the coat keep deteriorating for a long time can expose your wood floor to various incidents, like spillage, scratches, and baby drool. Once that happens, there will be no other option left but to repair the entire floor with sanding.
This is why we advise you to re-apply the protective coating at regular intervals to keep the exterior refreshing. Always recoat your floor way before you notice any damage. Just because you can see the thin plastic coating, does not mean the finish is intact. Depending on how often and how roughly your floor is used, the frequency of recoating changes. We would suggest you pay attention to any wear after three years since the last time it was sanded or recoated.
Why Can’t You Just Sand the Affected Area Instead?
Actually, you can, only if the damage remains within the grain direction of the hardwood flooring. But, sanding off the wear across or perpendicular to the grain will make the repair visibly ugly. (See photo below)
Can You Screen a Portion of Your Floor?
If you want an instant solution to your problem, then you need to keep the sanding and refinishing work within the boundaries of a single area. You can tape the surrounding area but still, it will not be easy to accurately sand only the inside without damaging some of the adjacent floors.
We would advise you to go for screening a full area or at least a full room. If there is a clean break in the wood, then you can stop at the edge of the room, for example, if there is a saddle or the wood changes direction. But, if the wood grain is perpendicular to the area, then getting a clean line is not possible, and you have to do it for all the areas. If there is no breaking point in your room, then you can add a saddle at the door and create a clean breaking point in that case.
Also, doing just one part of a room is not a good idea, as it will make the recoated part look new and the sheen will be distinctively different.
How Long Does the Screen and Recoat Procedure Take?
The answer depends on the area and the type of polyurethane coating on your hardwood. But in general, it takes up a day to finish the entire procedure, and another 24 hours for the whole thing to dry.
Oil based polyurethane takes up to 24 hours to dry, while the water-based ones take around 4 hours. However, we would advise to at least wait for 4 days before putting your furniture back, in case of oil-based poly, and 2 days for water-based ones. Putting area rugs back on is an entirely different story though, and you should at least wait for 30 days for that.
Screening and coating help prolong the life of your hardwood floor and helps you about the need for full sanding. If you want to keep your precious wood safe from scratches and spills and maintain the lustre longer, then get in touch with a hardwood flooring expert today. Make sure that you do this before any damage goes through the colour. Once it is done and the polyurethane is dried, there is no need for any additional buffing, as it will only dull the shine.