Recoat Engineered Floors
Recoating Engineered floors
Introduction The renovation or recoating of prefinished flooring is becoming a more popular request among flooring contractors, particularly for floors in retail environments. Despite this increasing requirement it is a process that is widely avoided and whilst it is something that should always be approached with a measure of caution and consideration, it can be a relatively simple and rewarding addition to the flooring contractor’s skillset. The process and checklist In the perfect world there will be a recommended process provided in regard to the particular flooring, and adherence to any refinishing information that may be supplied, as part of the system by the flooring manufacturer and/or coating manufacturer, should be followed. Unfortunately, it is commonplace that the owner/installer of the floor provides very little or no information in regard to the floor or refinishing, or that nobody knows or remembers the origin of the floor. The confusion this can ultimately create increases the risk in initiating a recoating program predominantly due to the “unidentified” nature of the floor finish, which is further complicated by the hugely varied selection of prefinished timber floors and floor finishes introduced to our market in the last decade or so. So how do we avoid the consequences of getting the recoating of an “unidentified” floor wrong and avoid what could eventually turn into a very costly exercise. In the absence of any relevant guidance, it is recommended to follow this basic checklist (or develop your own), which will hopefully provide enough useful suggestions to guide the contractor on how to best approach the recoating/renovation, and provide the most improvement to the existing finish - or whether it can be done at all, as not all of these floors are able to be recoated and not all damaged floors can be improved. A suggested checklist may look something like this
- Establish the nature of the floor, e.g. make sure it is actually a prefinished timber product as sometimes it can be difficult to tell and is often misreported.
2. Investigate what form of coating the flooring may currently have – UV cured urethane UV cured Oil, Hardwax, or an Aluminium Oxide finish etc.
3. Evaluate whether recoating/polishing is likely to improve the current appearance of the floor.
4. Establish what maintenance has previously been applied to the floor (polishes etc.).
5. Conduct a thorough clean of the floor prior to any other surface preparations – only using recommended cleaners/surface strippers (check with your supplier).
6. Complete the required preparations as specified by the flooring manufacturer or the manufacturer of the coating or finish to be used.
7. Initiate a small test patch on the actual floor using the prescribed or intended process.
8. When cured beat attempt to scratch your test patch and then apply some tape to the coated area and tear it off (cross hatch if desired), and if the sample area provides an acceptable result, so should your recoating program.
9. Apply the coatings as specified– It is suggested that 2 coats are applied (or allowed for) when doing any recoats to provide for any minor concerns which may eventuate, whilst not always required or possible, the allowance for the second coat can provide a measure of insurance against unforeseen concerns and unrealistic expectation.
When followed, this process should maximise the potential for the recoating or rejuvenation program to result in a satisfactory outcome and that the aged, damaged or fragile flooring is rejuvenated, repaired or protected by the additional coating applied.
Approaches to recoating prefinished floors
As a guide pictured below are few common types of prefinished floors and how they have been best approached in the past
Bamboo floors are often coated with a scratch resistant aluminium oxide finish which requires extra care. If the bamboo is adhesive fixed to the subfloor it can be recoated after cleaning, abrasion and/or an adhesive promoting primer followed by the applicable protective coating. These primers can be used without sanding and are excellent where a bevelled profile is present. If the bamboo is installed as a floating floor i.e. a “click” system then the application of a suitable polish is considered to be best option as it will facilitate movement that occurs between boards when deflecting, and not lead to tramlining or delamination over time.
floors such as 1, 2 & 3 strip products are also often coated with aluminium oxide and are commonly installed as floating floors, and therefore if significant deflection is apparent a suitable polish is also recommended for the renovation of these floors. However, if the flooring is adhesive fixed to the subfloor, the floor can be recoated after cleaning and cutback with a specialised abrasive, followed by the application of the recommended coating system or via an adhesive promoting primer and protective coating, which again, can be used without sanding and are excellent where a bevelled profile is present.
“Modern” Floating Engineered
floors are commonly presented as wide board strip products in European Oak and Australian species and although installed as floating floors do not generally offer as much deflection or movement on a good subfloor as some traditional versions. Therefore, if board movement is of concern these floors should also be rejuvenated by way of a suitable polish product, however depending on stability, many can be successfully “recoated” after thorough cleaning, abrasion, and the application of a recommended coating system, or via an adhesive promoting primer and protective coating which again, can be used without sanding (refer flooring supplier).
Direct Adhesive Fixed Engineered Floors with “special effect finishes” are premium end floors that are often installed as an alternative to solid timber floors. They are often adhered to the concrete slab, the stability of which ensures a more stable base for recoating. Whilst a good sacrificial polish is still an option for rejuvenation, the application of a coating or coating system can often provide a vastly improved appearance during a repair, or offer an additional level of protection for a new surface. As the finishes applied to these types of floors are also widely varied and usually decorative, a test coating application should also be observed for it’s “change of appearance”, as different coatings may significantly influence the overall “look” of the floor, which needs to be considered. As with all resurfacing these applications may be carried out after thorough cleaning and abrasion, and then coating with the recommended coating system, or via an adhesive promoting primer and protective coating which, can be used without sanding and are excellent where hand scraping, bevelled profiles and other undulating surface features are present.
Whilst the engineered flooring products installed today are many and varied, approaching these projects by following an effective checklist or process will provide the first steps to ensuring that the rejuvenation system applied is the most applicable one. It is however recommended to initiate enquiry in regard to the manufacturer or supplier of the flooring and/or coating product to establish whether there is a recommended rejuvenation program. It is better to attempt to follow what is proven or what is required to retain any implied warranties with the specific flooring product. Whilst there is always uncertainty with the unknown flooring and flooring finishes, gaining experience in this process can also be very rewarding as many of these prefinished floors (and there are many) have been around for a while now and require a facelift, and some of the more modern prefinished floors could use a little extra “beefing up” via the additional level of protection that recoating can provide. It’s only a matter of time before these activities become common place.