Recoating Hardwood Floors: When and Why

a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Hardwood floors add warmth, character, and value to any home. But, like any surface, they can wear down and lose their shine from foot traffic, scratches, and exposure to elements. Here, refinishing the existing hardwood floor comes in to restore its original shine and protect it from further damage.

Signs That Your Hardwood Floors Need Recoating

Before exploring when to maintain your hardwood floors, it’s crucial to recognize the signs that show they might need attention. Over time, daily life can erode the polyurethane finish that shields your floors.

A key sign that recoating is needed is when your floors look worn and dull. The bright sheen they once had can fade, making your home look less appealing. This dullness usually happens because of the continuous friction from walking and moving furniture. Over time, this activity wears down the protective finish that hardwood floor contractors apply.

Be on the lookout for scratches, dents, and other surface flaws. While minor scratches might be polished away, deeper ones often need a new finish to achieve a smooth and perfect surface. These defects can arise from various causes, such as pets, high heels, furniture legs, and sharp objects falling on the floor.

Changes in colour and fading are also signs that your floors could benefit from a fresh finish. Exposure to sunlight and UV rays can lighten the wood, particularly in sunlit areas. Applying a new coat can restore the wood’s original colour and brightness.

If you notice the finish peeling or flaking, it’s a definite sign that the protective layer is compromised. This vulnerability exposes your floors to more damage, making it critical to apply a new coat to refresh the finish and enhance protection.

When to Recoat Hardwood Floors

The best time to recoat hardwood floors depends on the type of wood, the quality of the finish, how much the floor is used, and how it’s cared for. However, the general guidelines are:

  • Every 3–5 Years for High-Traffic Areas: Places like hallways and kitchens need recoating more often to keep their look and protective layer.
  • Every 5–7 Years for Low-Traffic Areas: Less used rooms, like bedrooms and dining rooms, can wait longer between recoats.
  • After Major Renovations or Remodeling: Big home projects can damage your floors, requiring a new coat of polyurethane.
  • When Selling Your Home: Recoating can boost your home’s appeal and value, making it more attractive to buyers.

Why Recoating is Important

Recoating hardwood floors is crucial not just for looks; it helps them last longer and keeps up your home’s value. Here’s why it’s crucial:

  • Protects Against Wear and Tear: The polyurethane finish applied during recoating acts as a shield against daily wear and tear, protecting the wood from scratches, scuffs, and other damage from foot traffic, pets, and furniture movement.
  • Enhances Durability and Longevity: Regular maintenance strengthens the floor’s protective layer, keeping your floors in excellent condition for years. This can significantly extend their lifespan and save on the cost of total replacement.
  • Improves Appearance and Lustre: Recoating can restore the rich, warm glow of your hardwood floors, making them look as good as new. This can significantly enhance the overall look of your living spaces and boost the perceived value of your home.
  • Easier Maintenance: Newly coated hardwood floors are easier to maintain and keep clean. The polyurethane finish creates a smooth surface that repels dirt, dust, and spills, simplifying regular cleaning and upkeep.
  • Increased Resale Value: Floors that are well-maintained and beautifully finished are a major draw for potential buyers. Regular maintenance not only preserves but enhances one of the most appealing features of your home, increasing its resale value and attractiveness.

Hiring a Professional or DIY?

When it comes to recoating hardwood floors, you have two main options: hiring a professional contractor or taking on the project as a DIY endeavour. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and the decision ultimately depends on your skill level, time constraints, and budget.

Professional Flooring Contractors

Hiring a professional contractor is a more reliable choice. These experts have the right skills, tools, and knowledge to guarantee a perfect finish and durable results. Professionals can usually finish the job faster than you might on your own, reducing disruption to your daily life. They often provide warranties on their work, giving you peace of mind and protection against any problems.

However, this convenience comes at a higher cost. You need to consider labour costs, materials, and any extra fees, which can make hiring a professional more expensive than doing it yourself. You’ll also need to match the contractor’s schedule and prepare your home for the work.

DIY Approach

Doing the recoating yourself can save you money on labour costs. This option also lets you work on your schedule, without needing to coordinate with a contractor. Completing the recoating can also give you a great sense of achievement.

But, the DIY path has its challenges. It requires specific skills and techniques that may be difficult to master, increasing the risk of expensive errors. The work is physically demanding and involves extensive preparation, like sanding and applying multiple coats of polyurethane.

Without the right training, it’s easy to end up with an uneven finish or other flaws, which might require professional help later, possibly costing you more than if you had hired a professional from the start.

Preparing for Recoating: Tips and Considerations

Whether you choose a professional or a DIY approach, good preparation is crucial for a successful recoating project. Here are some tips:

  1. Clear the Area: Remove all furniture and items from the rooms to create a clear workspace and protect your belongings.
  2. Protect Surrounding Areas: Use plastic or cloths to cover nearby rooms and doorways to keep them free from dust and spills.
  3. Repair Damaged Flooring: Fix any significant scratches or damages before you start. You may need to fill gaps, replace damaged boards, or sand uneven spots for a smooth base.
  4. Choose the Right Products: Pick high-quality polyurethane and other materials needed for a durable finish. Consider factors like the finish’s sheen, drying time, and compatibility with your floors.
  5. Ensure Proper Ventilation: Polyurethane and other chemicals used during recoating require good air flow. Open windows, use fans or set up ventilation systems to keep the air clean and safe.
  6. Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Stick closely to the guidelines provided by the manufacturers of the products you use. This includes recommended drying times, application methods, and safety precautions.
  7. Consider Environmental Factors: The drying and curing of the polyurethane can be influenced by temperature, humidity, and airflow. Adjust your plans accordingly for the best results.
  8. Plan for Drying Time: Allow enough time for the floors to fully dry and cure before moving furniture back or walking on them. Rushing this step can lead to damage or imperfections.


Refinishing hardwood floors is an essential maintenance task that boosts both the beauty and longevity of your floors. By recognizing when refinishing is needed, understanding the process, and following thorough preparation and maintenance practices, you ensure your floors stay stunning and durable. Whether hiring a professional or doing it yourself, meticulous planning, attention to detail, and using quality materials are key. This not only rejuvenates your floors but also enhances your home’s value and appeal.