Can you sand and refinish engineered wood flooring?

   | | Floor Sanding Blog | 122 comments

Whenever someone calls me to get a quote for floor sanding and they have engineered wood flooring, they often ask me if its even possible first.

refinishing engineered hardwood flooring

To be fair, it’s an understandable question, you only have some 4 to 8 millimeters of real hardwood to work with. You might sand straight through to the plywood!

I am often asked this question about other types of flooring also, like fingerblock parquet.

Fingerblock parquet is rarely thicker than 8mm and in ten years of sanding and refinishing wooden floors, I have never sanded through to the subfloor. And believe me I have sanded fingerblock that has been extremely heavily sanded before.

Yet I have never ever sanded through it.

This coming from the guy who rarely starts sanding with anything finer than 36g.

Despite this I can scarcely remember ever sanding all the way through engineered flooring

Infact the number of times I have sanded through an engineered floor to see the plywood underneath, I could count on one hand.

So yes, I have sanded through before but at least 2 of those times was when neither the customer nor I realised that the floor, previously thought to be solid, was actually only a 1mm veneer.

There have been occasions when I have recommended not sanding on an engineered wood floor because it had been sanded a few times before and I personally wasn’t prepared to risk sanding through.

Another situation that I would consider not sanding is if the floor is really unlevel or warped (cupped).

I have sanded cupped engineered flooring (many many times), but I’m talking about when it’s quite clearly too far gone.

Other than that, yes you can definitely sand and seal your engineered wood flooring. Pull on your big boy pants (or big girl!) and get to work, because your tatty old floors could be lookin’ brand new in no time.

Before you start, make sure that you have read my articles on using a floor sander and using an edge sander. That will help prevent any serious damage to your floor. If you really want to do a good job, get in the know.

Hey, if the floor is nice and flat and you can get away with starting on a 60g belt, it may be possible that you can sand your floor 2 or 3 times without trouble, massively increasing the life of the floor!

I hope this article helped. If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment in the comment section below.


Comments

  1. Hi Ben,
    I currently have a very light coloured engineered wood floor. All I wish to do is change the colour to a dark oak. My original plan was to hire the belt sander and remove the top layer of varnish or laquer( not sure) then apply 3 coats of dark oak floor varnish. Since all I want to achieve is a darker colour is it necessary to remove all the top coat with a floor sander or would it be acceptable to simply hand sand lightly to give the new varnish a key to adhere to?
    Thanks in advance
    Lee

    1. Try to identify the wood because if it’s beech or maple it won’t take a stain very well. If it’s oak then go for it. I highly recommend against keying it and just putting a coloured finish on top, it always looks naff!

  2. I have a 5 yr old engineered Big river timber floating floor, it originally had factory finishing lacquer which I did not like so the company that sold it to me advised that their sander would take off the factory finish and re coat it which I was happier with ,I recently had the same floor sanders to redo the floor they have buffed,it but it was peeling in places and I asked them not to continue with the sealing. They didnt know what to do to eliminate the peeling so I suggested they do some research as good thorough preparation is the key to a satifactory result I have since scraped the areas that were peeling with a paint scraper. The floor now has a smooth surface.I AM NOW DOING RESEARCH (back to front I know )My question is should the floor be re buffed now and lacquered or should it be completely sanded first The product they are planning to use in monothane semi gloss cork and timber finish bt urethane coatingsThese guys maintain that you cannot use a belt sander on engineered boards so I would not have them do it, I live in a rural location in Vic Another question Do you travel or can you recommend someone in Ballarat?I want the best finish possible as this was not a cheap floor and is a feature of my home The product the

    1. Hello Michele, we are having problems in the UK since the EU banned NMP, I’m afraid I can’t really comment without seeing the floor or knowing what was used. Sounds like it’s a little messed up at this point, so maybe sanding off the previous finish and starting again might be the best thing. It sounds like the company may be liable I would press them for answers. And I’m afraid I can’t recommend anyone in Australia, but that’s something I’m looking to do on this site in the future. Good luck Michele

  3. Hi there

    Im looking for some pretty urgent advice.

    We just had brand new engineered floor fitted, and have realised that we made an error while choosing the model and we really don’t like the finish now. Disaster! It looks pink/salmon colour. We were expecting light ish faded brown range of colours. When we look at the example board I can see a bit of pinkyness to it now but it turns out to be one of the darker boards…we didn’t notice even when laying out a half dozen boards before fitting…It looks quite different once it is laid. Lesson learned. Go see a couple of metres fitted in a showroom, don’t buy just on seeing one or two planks people!!

    Anyway. It’s a lovely wide plank oak with a little bevel and lots of knots. 14 mm with 4mm oak. but the factory finish (water based varnish) seems to have this pink tinge to it. I know this as we took an offcut and sanded it by hand and the pink is gone. Back to woody oak colour.

    So we are thinking of right away sanding down the bare minimum (screening?) and refinishing and just letting all the wood be its natural colour. Possibly a touch of oak tinted varnish.

    However: will the boards change colour towards brown in time naturally? The fitters said it would but I’m not sure it’ll be enough.. but Maybe we could live with this.

    Or could we apply a new coat of coloured varnish to darken it away from salmon? But the pink is in the finish and will always be there.

    Or would it be best to bite the bullet and sand down now? We haven’t moved in yet so would be “easier”.

    The problem is that the building is 150 years old and floor wasn’t very level. The fitters used marble grit to level and fill the worst areas and fit is good but It bows up at the corners of the rooms.

    Also I guess we void the wood guarantee right away and lose the factory finish durability…

    Any advice (asap) is GREATLY appreciated. Your site and videos are great by the way. You seem like the guy to ask.

    Simon

    1. Get a pro in to refinish it. I know thats a strange thing to say on this website, but its a new flat smooth surface, you really want it to be perfectly flat and smooth when its redone. Because its new and so fresh it shouos be cheap. Either that or have it relaid. What an awful predicament

      1. Hi thanks for the quick reply

        Yeah that’s what I thought you’d say…

        Ive noticed that Part of the pale color comes from the finish which seems in places milky white, which I am told by a friend is the remnants of the water based varnish. You can see it in the knots. Will this colour go away with time too as the varnish ages? Or is it now set by the factory hardening process?

        And how much does oak underneath typically darken in time? I know it depends on sunlight exposure but roughly speaking what can we expect?

        Thanks a lot!

        Simon

  4. Sorry one last question

    If you say it should be quick and easy as it’s new, How long roughly would it take to do ? (100m2 split amongst 5 spaces and a hall)

    So it’s just a quick sand and then varnish?

    Going to have to sort things quick so I’m trying to find out everything asap…

    Yes, it’s a total bummer. Was so looking forward to the floor at the end if a long flat renovation…

    Thanks!

    Simon

  5. I have maple engineered floor. Dog put some scratches in it. Toilet leaked under base board . Leaving some of the floor dull and a gray in between planks. Can we lightly sand it then stain the maple to it’s true color again?

    1. You don’t need to stain for sure, if you were going to attempt this, you would lightly sand the area by hand and apply some lacquer, not stain. BUT I have never successfully made this look good, you need to sand the floor im afraid.

  6. Hello! I have an engineered beech wood floor, I had it fitted from new maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I recall the fitter saying I could probably get two if not three sand backs out of it.

    What type of sander should I use? I have a Bosch rotary model but not sure how big the footprint of the sander should be ideally.

    Also, what to use to coat it after the sanding?

    1. Hello Richard, you can indeed get as many as 3 sandings out of one engineered floor, but it all depends on the wear and damage of the floor and how thick the hardwood layer is. You are right its all about the size of the size of the contact area with the floor. If its too big it just won’t do any damage even if you put coarse grits on. If the floor is uneven at all then you will find it even harder. Most professional floor sander hire places rent out a 10 inch belt sander. This machine is a bit softer than others but still gets the job done, its perfect for DIY. As for what you should finish the floor with, I have written about that several times, look around the site and download my free ebook!

  7. Ben,

    I am looking to refinish my engineered maple hardwood floors after having had a large dog stay with me a few months which resulted in many dog nail scratches on my floors. Do you have experience with this sort of thing, and will sanding remove enough layer to remove the scratches?

    Patrick

    1. Yes! believe it or not, while those scratches look horrific they are probably not even half a millimetre deep. A single pass with 60 grit will completely remove them. All dents look way way way deeper than they actually are, bit of an optical illusion really

  8. I have engineered glue down wood with about 5 coats polyuthene on it. I had buff and coat to come in and the left brush marks and now poly has scrTched. Can this be removed and re coated ? or can I lay engineered floor over this wood . I am glued down on a concrete slab.

    1. Don’t lay down a new floor just sand it and relacquer it. Brush marks only usually appear with a coloured finish, don’t use coloured finishes! For that very reason

  9. Hi, my living room has half prefinished parquet wood and half unfinished parquet. If I sand can I get a unified finish with the half prefinished wood? What is your choice of sander for this floor it’s roughly 645 sq ft

    1. Use a Lagler Hummel or Bona 10 inch sander, if you can get ahold of either of them, by sanding the whole floor it will definitely help to create a better matching finish

  10. Hi Ben. I have a light coloured engineered wood floor in the basement, possibly oak or maple. Had a bad water leak a few months ago resulting in two boards being severely cupped and many others with nasty brown stains. From reading your earlier comments I guess that the best option for the warped boards is to replace them. My question concerns the brown water marks – if I replace the warped boards then sand the whole floor can I expect that the brown marks will disappear, or are they likely to still be there (and is staining an option to hide them)?
    Chris

    1. that sounds like it was pretty bad, water damage stains do often come out no guarantees. If you can get matching boards, I would replace as much as possible

  11. Hello Ben,
    I just purchased a house which has engineered light color wood. It is in a very good shape, but I do not like the color. Can you please tell me the steps I need to do in order to change it to a darker color?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Try to identify the wood, if its beech or maple then you are going to have to use a colored finish. If its oak then just sand it and stain it as per the tutorials on this site, if it is beech or maple, resand the floor then use a colored finish

  12. Hi Ben, I have some oak engineered wood down, it’s brushed and UV oiled. It’s also smoked, so the colour isn’t your normal bright oak, but a dark walnut like colour. The problem I have is that it was laid down whilst building work was still going on, and the floor picked up all the plaster dust and paint dust. They didn’t cover it well enough. Now the floor looks terrible with white dust inbetween all the strains in the wood where it was brushed. I can’t get it out, I’ve used Bona, and Woca and still nothing. I thought I’d try and drop some oil ontop, but others advised that I’ll just be hiding the dust under the oil, and it’ll eventually show through again.
    Is sanding my last resort? if it is, what sanding type/technique do I need to not sand out the brushed look? Or do you know of any other way of washing it?
    Thanks for your help in advanced.

    1. I sorry to hear this, brushed smoked oak sounds absolutely amazing, infact if you could reply with a link to where you bought it that would be great.

      Unfortunately you have a serious problem, you will never get that effect again without replacing the floor. Any kind of sanding is going to flatten the surface removing the brushed look, the best thing you can then do is somehow rebrush it and oil it. There are wirebrushing powertools and even wirebrush drums to go on floor sanders but i don’t know much about this, I would speak to the manufacturer if I were you.

  13. Hi Ben,
    congratulations on your very information and well organized site. I am considering how to bring the engineered wood floors (oak) in our apartment back to life. It’s a rented apartment. The floors were laid about 20-25 years ago when the attic in our apartment building was renovated to become an apartment. The floors are still very flat and the boards — with the exception of a spot near the entrance — are intact and firmly in place. I have a couple of questions. First, a bit of the surface wood has actually peeled off near the entrance, a patch about the size of a playing card, and other spots nearby are beginning to peel. The landlord suggested I just throw a carpet over it to cover it up.

    Question: Is it possible to fill these damaged sections with something to create an even surface and possibly prevent the damage from getting worse?

    Secondly, the floors appear to have been oiled when they were originally finished. But the landlord did nothing to maintain the floors since then. Must I sand the floors before oiling the floors again? Would a good buffing suffice or would I still see the light scratches in the floor afterward. In some places, there does appears to be wear in the grain – the lines in the grain are open, hard to describe without making it sound more dire than it is.

    Thing is, it’s not my floor and my landlord does not want it to be sanded. So, I’m wondering if there is a workaround to at least repair some of the damaged spots and apply a finish to get some of the sheen back in the floor.

    Cheers, Bill

    1. I find that just putting a new coat of oil over a really old tatty floor just shows up the imperfections even more. What I do with the peeling bits is snap them off, glue them back down in place, sand it then fill the cracks, usually this results in you not even being able to tell there was a problem there. Land lord doesn’t want it sanded because he’s scared 😛 Do you know how thick the real wood veneer is?

  14. Hello Ben

    We are soon to move into a lovely Eco bungalow in Oxfordshire and the house has lovely hardwood bamboo floors throughout. However there is a sheen, sort of yellowy, that I would love to get sanded as I much prefer light brown and Matt finishes. Can you suggest a starting point and any specialists in the Oxfordshiremarea (approx 110m squared).

    Many thanks.
    Crona ps. Fantastic blog

  15. In 2006 I contracted with a flooring company to install in the kitchen, dining room and hall(500 s.f) glue down engineered 13/16 x6″ flat sawn grain micro leveled black in the bevel, character grade American cherry floor. Recently I called back the same company and asked them to do do the followings:
    1-install same floor in the living room , the family room and the bedroom. Approximately 600 sf of flooring; and 2-sand, stain and refinish the existing floor to match the new To eliminate scratches and some scuff marks.
    The flooring company informed me that they cannot match the new to the old unless they sand the old and the new, and then stain them to match.
    If we do that, we will lose the bevel which we do not want to do! Any thoughts! What should we do?

    1. They are right and its just an unfortunate position to be in, if you want it to blend, you have to sacrifice the bevel

  16. Hi Ben,

    I have a Hickory engineered wood floor. After three floods I have pulled up my floors three times in different sections. At this point, I have a dining room floor that has was put down originally and sealed with wax, even though I discovered afterward that it did not need to be sealed. I love the wax sheen. Now my living room floor was just put down again, and it adjoins the dining room but it is not waxed. It looks ridiculous because it clearly looks different than the dining. As I’m reading about finishing engineered wood floors, I am becoming more worried about having my floor buffed and waxed. I would have to buff and wax both floors to make them right – so for the dining room it would be its second time, and the living room its first. Is this okay or is it like sanding them, which can only be done once or twice in the life of the floors?

    Thanks so much for your help and availability. It is very kind of you!
    Sheryl

  17. Hi Ben

    Can you tell me if it’s possible to sand back a veneer floor and then oil it. It’s a dark reddish stain right now, which I don’t like.

    Thanks,

    1. by veneer do you mean 1mm? if so then no, you can chemically strip it and then lightly sand it with a 120 or something. But I don’t know anything about that. French polishers know all about that stuff

  18. HELP! I have engineered wood flooring that is covered in plaster dust. I have used a micro-fibre mop which has helped to a point but there are still white marks across the floor. Any ideas on how to remove the dust all together?

    Thanks in advance,
    Lynne

  19. Hi, We just bought a new condo with engineered bamboo flooring that is very light color. My wife hates it and I promised to do something. Can I lightly sand and then use a tinted polyurethane finish to make it darker. The floor is only 2 years old and in good shape – no obvious scratches or dings. She would like a medium oak color.

  20. We have an engineered wood floor in good condition, but after 10 years it is now sun faded in parts, How would you suggest we can get it back to a uniform colour. The hard wood top layer is 3.5mm and has never been touched since it was laid

    1. sand it, definitely start on maximum 60, if you can start on 80 (test 80 first, if it is struggling to take the old finish off then drop to 60)

  21. Hi how do u go about resanding over a acrylic engerineerd floor? Hav had a floor sander say it’s really hard to get anything to stick to acrylic

  22. Hey Ben I have engineered cheap would in the office the chair has taken off the finish I tried to touch up what a joke we are selling house need to make it look good help!

  23. Hi Ben,
    I have a pre finished parquet floor that had a whitewashed look to it. I rented a drum sander and took the finish down w 36 then 80 then 120. I wanted it to be & it is now unevenly worn looking by removing some of the original white color finish and now has light brown and white patches as I wanted – can I now use an oil based or water based white wash stain over the whole floor and then poly it 3 times w sanding in between the first 2 coats and finish w the third? What do you think?

    1. this is very ambitious for a DIY job. I personally don’t even use white wash products because they are too problematic. I think you are going to have some serious problems with this. I dunno what to say!

  24. I have water damage on a few planks of my engineered wood FD floors. How can I repair this without replacing each plank?

    1. No, use a router or something to cut the damaged boards from the inside out so you don’t damage surrounding boards. Cut off the bottom of the groove in the tongue and groove on the new boards and drop them in

  25. Hi Ben , have recently laid European oak 190mm engineered floor trowel glued onto a ply substrate , I covered the floor boards but mistakenly used the wrong tape to stick down the floor covering and it has peeled up the German treffert polyurethane finish , which the manufactures say has had four coats . There is stripes left from the tape . What would be the best solution here , with a sand and re oat would they look close to the original again? Thanks, Luke

    1. sanding and lacquering would work, but maybe only buffing and coating would work.

      Duct Tape is known for solving lacquer and pulling it up, i understand your pain

  26. What a great website! Quick question… New construction and we just laid 1600 SF of engineered pre finished white oak. Kind of a walnut color. I love it all except the wood has gapped in places and what’s worse, there are pieces that are splintering up and I’m scared for my kids and their poor feet. Could cause serious injury! Almost like the boards were damaged during installation or something. Anyway – I plan on having the spots I can see puttied or filled – but not sure it will look great. And what if it keeps happening down the road. !?
    We haven’t moved in yet and I’ve started to consider having a clear lacquer or varnish put over the floors to seal in any future potential splintering. Is this a horrible idea? And can it be done for relatively cheap? We aren’t diy-ers so I’d have it professionally done. The flooring is shaw castlewood oak if you care to look it up. Color drawbridge. Thanks in advance for any help!

    1. call the manufacturer, ask them. Call and get a quote from a french polisher, they are magicians with this stuff, but they can be expensive, getting a quote would atleast get you some ideas

  27. Hi we moved into a house with a walnut finish engineered floor, which we find too dark. We have been told that we can sand it down and this will make it lighter then we can add a colour or varnish this – will this work? Also can you recommend a tool that we can we use to get into the joins as the edges are beveled? Many thanks Maria

  28. Hi.
    We moved into our newly built home about 8 months ago. We have engineered dark floors with slight wood grains/grooves in it.
    We later noticed that the workers must have wiped some product to clean up on the floor and have left wipe marks in places. Also our cat has thrown up in a few places and once wiped up with wet rag and then dried the throw up spot is still on the floor. Obviously the finish isn’t forgiving. Is there anything we can put on the floor to reseal it? Or do you think we should do something else??
    Thank you in advance!

    1. sounds like it has a hardwax oil finish on it, if it were polyurethane you wouldn’t be having these problems. Personally I would sand it and lacquer it with PU. It may be dark because of a stain so you may want to stain it, depends on the wood.

  29. Hello Ben,
    Great website, thank you. I have just had a brand new engineered oak floor laid with a nude oak finish. The people who installed it also had plasterers, plumbers and various other services working on-site at the same time and did not protect the floor properly. It is now covered in smeary marks where dust and grime has been ground in as well as water marks and some nicks and scratches. My question is to what degree (if any) finely sanding and re-sealing the floor will affect its longevity (only so many times one can sand it) and will it really be as “good as new” ? I am particularly concerned about losing any definition to the slight bevelled edges (only about 1.5mm deep). Be grateful for any advice, thanks. Suzanne

    1. The size of that bevel will definitely reduce, to say the very least. I have sanded floors that were very flat and I started on either a 60 or even an 80 grit and managed to preserve the bevel mostly. However, usually floors are slightly uneven and need the usual 36 grit sanding to start.

      Engineered flooring can usually be sanded several times without issue. They can last 20 years no problem

  30. We recently bought a house that has striped hard wood (it’s on a raised slab so we’re pretty sure it’s engineered hardwoods). The stripes are large light wood and dark wood. We feel it looks like a bowling alley and would like it to look more uniform. Would we be able to sand these and darken the lighter areas to match the darker ones?

    1. yes it is indeed, just put masking tape either side of the light boards and just stain within those tape lines, then pull up the tape and lacquer the whole floor.

  31. I have brand new engineered maple floors and I really don’t like the “hand scraped” look. I didn’t notice it on the sample. They were expensive and I wondered if they could be sanded to be relatively smooth and then refinished?? Please say “yes”!

  32. Wow what a great informative and well laid out site! Ben I have eingeneerrd hardwood in my living room and the finish is peeling off on 3 of the boards, I called the builder but this type of flooring is now discontinued! Is it possible to only sand down and refinish the 3 boards where the finish is peeling? Thanks !

    1. Potentially, I know there are pros in the US that can do it, but I can’t do it and I doubt you could im afraid! (atleast not without making it look hideous)

  33. Hi, I have 3/8 engineered hardwood flooring with bevelled edges. I would like to at the very least screen and recoat (preferrably refinish) the floor. Can you give me any advice on how to sand or get the old finish out of the bevelled edges that sits in between the planks?

    1. just sand paper on your hands and knees, there are machines that can do it, but I don’t know what they are called or where to get them, sorry!

  34. Hello , I have a engineed hickory floor that has some scratches from moving the sofa and a few areas where the finish looks almost worn off. Nothing deep . It’s flat and level. It’s 9/16 and has what looks to be at least 1/8 of wood. questions do I need to use any type of wax or silicone remover on it before or during the sanding process? its clear do I need to take all the finish off before top coating ? And any sealer or just topcoat. Thinking of bona traffic hd

    1. bona traffic HD is a great product. I would use a sealer for sure. All the old finish does need to come off yes, that is if you want it to look good 🙂

  35. Hi Ben,
    I have oak engineered white oak flooring and have some quire big scratches. I have sanded the area down and applied maintenance wocca oil to find out its not sorted it out.
    Help required as now thinking of putting wocca master oil over the area to get the original finish as the floor was in wocca oil.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated as it looks awful now and trying to avoid replacing that section.
    Debbs.

  36. hello how low of a grit can we start with for engineered hardwood 8mm? I’m using 60 now and it seems rough. Last thing I want to do is go to low thank you sir

  37. Hi Ben,
    Another Australian here. My builder has scratched my engineered floorboards a lot!!! spotted gum. There are areas of lippage in joins that the flooring company say are within tolerance(0.5mm). My builder is sanding the floorboards although I am not pleased about them having been sanded before they have any use and reducing opportunities for future sanding. The sanding will remove the lipping.
    What sort of coating do you recommend?
    Do you consider sanded floorboards second hand floorboards in that their life span… future sanding possibilities are reduced?

    1. Yes it does reduce the life of them and is a bit of a loss im afraid. As for what lacquers I recommend, I thoroughly hope you have downloaded my Free Ebook which will tell you just that!!

  38. Hi Ben, I would like to thank you for the great knowledge you’re sharing. I had the same problem as Kimlyn from the comment section, my dog scratched the floor a little bit and your advice helped me a lot. I mean, there were some scratches, so I did a little bit of light sanding and it was all fine 🙂

  39. Awesome website! I have fairly new engineered acacia wood flooring. Is there any way to make it less slippery. The floor is like an ice rink! Thanks!

    1. yes, normal lacquer has an average slip resistance but you can also get lacquers with added friction. Not sure if your floor will take just an over coat though, might need to sand off the old finish before applying added friction lacquer

  40. Hi Ben,
    Great website and thanks for your help in advance.
    We are installing Pre-Finished Engineered Timber floor (Spotted Gum) in mat finish. But I really like the gloss finish look. Is it possible to polish the pre-finished floor boards again to get the gloss finish after installation? Any issues with applying a gloss polish on top of the existing mat finish? Please help. If possible, can you please recommend a product.

  41. Hi Ben,

    I am trying to install hardwood in my 2nd floor and I am looking for something that’s not glossy my main concern is footprints,Any suggestions .
    Also I have Bruce hardwood floor butterscotch in my first floor and I would like to refinish it to a different color and also to a different finish to avoid footprints any suggestions on that also.Thanks in Advance

  42. Hi Ben.

    Thanks in advance for your reply. I have seen similar questions here already asked but I was not able to discern if the previous people asking have a new or old flooring. My question is with regards to re-painting or re-staining pre-engineered hard wood flooring.
    Some background: we recently bought a pre-construction condo (600 square feet). The unit is brand new and never lived in yet. Which means, the floor has no “wear and tear” as the unit is currently unoccupied. According to the builder, what we have is; blue ridge oak shale pre-finished engineered hard wood flooring in the entire condo except for the bathroom.
    Problem is, the colour is much lighter than what we preferred. My wife is not pleased.

    Question: it at all possible to paint over it with a much darker colour? If the answer is yes, do we need to sand it down or just painting over it is would be OK? Also, in terms of colour we prefer very dark but not quite ebony or black. What are your recommendations and what tools would you suggest?
    I believe we are quite handy and could do this ourselves as a DIY project before we move in at a cost of course. But if there are too many unknowns, we are certainly not opposed to getting a professional to take care of it. How long do you think it would this take given the size of out unit? We are simply weighing all options before moving in 5 weeks from today.
    Appreciate your response and advice. Please keep up the great work.

    B and K.

    1. Hello Bee, great question and I really hope you take my advice. Do not do this yourself. A floor that is the wrong colour is better than a floor that has been done badly. You don’t want to go to factory finish to amateur finish in a new home. If you shoot me a message in the “ask me a question” section, with your location, I could probably match you up to a local professional (i know hundreds of incredible finishers in the states)

  43. Moved into a house with pre engineered maple cinnamon that is extremely faded and scratched/beat up in some areas. The faded areas now match a natural maple. There were existing scratches when i moved in but now even more do to my moving furniture, normal wear/tear and my dogs. I have tried hardwood cleaners and “rejuvenating” wood flooring remedies but i am not pleased. Now i would like to extend the would flooring into the family room. I found a match but am concerned about spending the money on the new flooring and then not being able to fix the floors in the kitchen…i would like to avoid replacing the floors in the kitchen too. On a budget. Fyi – not all the floors are faded only certain areas….advice?? TIA

  44. I have bamboo laminate flooring in my kitchen. The color is to light for my liking. I would like to stain it to a grayish color. Do I just stain it and then sand lightly and put on a top coat. I’ve never done this before. Not sure what the process is or if it can be done.

    1. I wouldn’t recommend staining bamboo to be honest, if you are going to, at least test it in a cupboard or something, bamboo is not normal wood and it may not take stain very well.

  45. Hello and thank you in advance for your time and expertise. I have engineered hard wood floors and would love to change the color of them. I have been told that I cannot refinish these floors but after reading all of the comments here, I was wondering if you might have a professional in my area that you could connect me with to get more answers. Thank you very much!!

  46. Hi Ben.

    Great website! I wonder if I could pick your brain over a wood floor issue I’m struggling with… I currently have pre-finished engineered woods floors installed in the majority of the first floor of my house (roughly 1,500 sq ft worth of wood). The floor is about 9 years old, and after 9 years of dog nails and general wear and tear, it’s looking a little rough and I’d like to have the floors looking new again. We’re debating between sanding and re-finishing or ripping them out and installing new engineered wood floors altogether. I know that the cost to refinish is less than installing new floors, but I don’t really know how much less. And given some factors specific to my family, i am willing to spend a little more to reduce hassle and time. My factors are: my husband is OCD and cannot stand any kind of mess (i.e. the dust created from sanding) so I’m trying to cut down on mess. Secondly, I do not want to disrupt/relocate the whole family (including the dogs) for days while we’re waiting for a new stain and a new poly coat to dry. I’d much rather find a one day solution. So my questions are, realistically, what is the average cost difference/savings between refinishing or replacing? And what’s the average time it will take to sand, stain & refinish (including drying time) vs. rip out and re-install? Thanks in advance!

    1. new floor will be roughly double to triple the cost of refinishing. Lots of companies offer dust free sanding these days. I would recommend that. You won’t find a 1 days solution for this. Weather it’s fitting prefinished new, unfinished new then sanding and finishing, or just sanding and refinishing, its going to take a minimum of 3-4 days and up to 8-10 days. Get the floors refinished by a real pro, it will be the cheapest and best looking. Suffer short term for pleasure long term

  47. Hi Ben

    Great, informative website. We’ve just had some engineered oak floor laid in our home(floating) and for the most part but feels reasonably solid underfoot. The hallway, however, is quite uneven as is the entranceway. Full site is about 45 sq mtrs. I’m having the installers come back in to try and fix the unevenness next week.
    My question is this- when the time comes, will we be able to have the floor refinished/sanded? It has about a 4mm Oak top with the rest Spruce(Karelia Country Oak).
    Even if some slight unevenness remains, will it still be able to be sanded back when the time comes? I’m worried that we should have glued down thus eliminating any movement. I’ve been sold on the idea of engineered, one because it’s more cost effective, but two, it’s possible to refinish it and bring it back to a new state when needed.
    Does a slightly uneven floor discount this whole idea?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated

    Many thanks in advance

  48. Hi Ben

    Not too sure if this went through before so I’m trying again.

    We’ve just had some Karelia Iak engineered flooring put down on our home in New Zealand. About 45 sq mtrs in living, hallway and entrance. We’ve had it floated rather than glued. Our hallway is quite uneven as is the entrance and I’m planning on having the installers back in soon to try and fix.

    My question is this-if it’s impossible to have completely flat and stable floors with the floating option, is this going to prevent us from having it refinished in the future? It’s about a 4mm thickness on top and we’ve been assured it can be sanded back at least 2-3 times. Would this still apply if it’s not all entirely flat and solid underfoot?
    Is it possible to sand floating floors that have these slight undulations? If so, it feels like a bit if a waste. The reason I invested in the floors in the first place was for their longevity.

    Any help sincerely appreciated.

    Great site too BTW.

    Best

    Lawrence

  49. Hi Ben

    I forgot to mention in my previous post, the floor sits on a Haro 2mm underlay(silent eco),

    Thanks again

    Lawrence

  50. Hi Ben
    I’ve installed 2000sq ft unfinished walnut engineered hardwood floor and am about to start the sanding process. I have used drum sanders in the past but am wondering if its overkill on a product that seems relatively smooth to start with. Would an orbital sander, starting greater than 60gt be a better choice if its an unfinished/raw product?

    1. you’re crazy, get a pro to finish it. So many people spend a fortune on new flooring and sand it and finish it themselves. Baffled me, I would start with a finishing sander on 40g then 60, 100, 120. Hand held orbital round the edges

  51. Hi Ben, what an awesome website!
    I have used a drum sander in the past and read about some “exclusive” exceptions you have made, in some of your other posts. I just installed 2000sq ft of a beautiful engineered walnut. Im wondering if a drum sander would be too much since it feels not too rough as is, unfinished. Do you think an orbital sander with 3 grits, starting around 80 would be enough in this situation? Looking forward to your opinion.

  52. Hi Ben, I am hoping you can help me with my hardwood dilemma. We had Bellawood Engineered bamboo flooring put in my home (2000 sq ft) back in November. The floor installed shows every little smudge, handprint, butt-print, etc., Frankly, it’s driving me crazy. The beautiful hardwood floors I had been dreaming of are a nightmare. Lumber liquidators wants the installers (who are contracted by lumber liquidators) to take a look and assume it is a glue issue. The floors were glued down to cement. The installers say it’s the product. It is going to do that. I’m sick to my stomach. No one ever told me the floors would be so glossy as to show footprints. We all wear socks now and there are still smudges. We have tried shoes only and still smudges. What should I do? Can I fix this problem by doing …….What? Please give me some suggestions.

  53. Hi Ben, very glad you’re here, as I’ve received many answers to my question, which makes me think I really don’t have an answer yet! The owners glued down engineered wood in 1991, never did anything to care for it. In the worst places in the 800 sf. foot area, there’s deep scratches, old, dried wood, a bit of wood slat separation (not very wide), lots of the coating off, but not all. No grooves in the floor. There’s dent in one area. The sun has done a lot of damage over the decades, as one side of the house is all windows. Should we replace it, or try to sand and resurface this old engineered wood?
    Thanks so much!

  54. You’re absolutely right Ben, in my experience I’ve never had trouble sanding engineered wood flooring and I usually give them 3 passes with different grits (2 when it’s super thin). You just need a good pair of hands coupled with a quality machine and patience.

  55. Hi Ben!
    I tried reading through some posts to find the answer to my question. Seems like most people are trying to make things darker. I ordered engineered hardwood in a coffee color. BIG mistake for a family of five. It shows every little scratch and dust. I would like to lightly sand top layer and try a more grey/whitewash tone…possibly more of a coastal feel. Any suggestions?

  56. I had prefinished 4 inch maple floors installed. Some boards are narrow on the ends and some are split lengthwise. I have complained to the installer and they subsequently brought in the manufacturer. Manufacturer says they will replace split boards but otherwise not their problem. Installer is willing to work to make me satisfied. I am considering pulling up this floor and having engineered install instead. Trying to do my homework about engineered so since this whole fiasco has been expensive. Not willing to make a second mistake and continue to be unhappy with the floor. Installer says they are having a hard time finding 4-5 inch Select Maple engineered flooring. I found some by a manufacturer that has good customer reviews. But their maple flooring is 4mm thick. Is this enough should I one day want is sanded and refinished? I am also reading that crosscut thickness is best for stability of the floor. I live in a pretty dry climate. Thanks for your advice.

    1. I know that the surface can crack on engineered boards too. I actually sanded a Maple engineered floor recently that had a 3.5mm wear layer. IMO should be done by a pro, and they shouldn’t use water based poly, only oil based. The waterbased poly can expand the thin wood and cause problems.

      Sounds like the floor might have needed a little more time to acclimatise before installation. If the installer can get the replacement boards in neatly, I would have that done and live with it. Remember it’s a natural material, imperfections come with the territory

  57. HI Ben,

    I’m about to do a kitchen remodel and want to make sure I understand my options for sanding my brazilian cherry floors in the future. The prior owner installed them about 5-10 years ago and I’m pretty sure they are the cheapest, or close to cheapest that Home Depot offers. Based on their current inventory I’m guessing that they are 1.2mm. If that is the case, is it even possible to sand them in the future and try to reduce the red tones to a darker brown? Before I put new cabinets on top of these floors I want to understand what my options are for sanding and if I should just replace them.

    Also, are there any easy ways to figure out if the flooring is floating vs. glue or nailed? There is one board right by the kitchen sink that isn’t in good shape, likely due to recurring water damage. Should I try to replace it, stain it, or other?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. At 1.2mm I wouldn’t take that floor on, and I know a thing or two about sanding!

      Just knock on the floor, if its more hollow its floating, if its blunt, its stuck down. Floating also moves a lot more

  58. We have pre engineer maple floors and while we were out of town our dog had three urine accidents and it was not discovered until a week later when the spots started getting dark, after tearing a couple of boards and finding it bone dry underneath we deduced that it was undiscovered urine. It was done before the pet sitter pick our dog up and then sat while we were out of town. My question is, can you sand and poly just a section and expect it to match or does the whole room have to be sanded and polyurethaned? Thanks!

    1. ok 2 parts to this answer. Pet urine contains amonia, which is the same chemical they use to smoke oak, because it travels right the way through the wood darkeningit all the way through. There is very little chance that, if this urine spot soaked without notice, you will be able to sand it out. Even if it did sand out, which it won’t. You can’t just sand a patch and not have it look like a sanded patch. Best fix to get it perfect is to get the boards lifted and replaced, then sand the whole thing

  59. Hi Ben,

    Recently had rug removed in living room and matched up engineered hardwood to adjacent dinning room. New flooring looks great and matches well with old flooring, but installers used masking tape to hold wood while installing. When the tape was removed, one piece lifted the finish off 6 inches of the old adjacent flooring. Unfortunately, the damaged wood is located in a very noticeable location. Can the damaged finish be replaced without major work?

  60. Hi Ben
    I have a similar problem as the guy before me. I put in a dark maple pre finished hardwood. Is there a way to lighten it a few shades, ? it is too dark for my home!
    Thanks
    Misty

    1. Honestly, I think I would live with it until you can’t anymore then resand. But I highly highly recommend you don’t try to stain maple as an amateur. If you wanted to go natural with just lacquer and no stain, fine, but staining maple is tough even for pro’s.

  61. Hello,
    Thanks for all of the good advice here. I have a question about an engineered floor and whether to replace or sand. It is a 10 year old Bella Wood light colored floor (Maple, I think). I am wondering if it is feasible to sand the floor (3 rooms, about 450 s.f.) to restain with a darker color. I worked for a number of years as a flooring installer during college (carpet, tile, soft goods), so I think I can handle the sanding and other work, but I worry about the finished job. Have you ever done a job like this? Does it come out looking good? The current floor is beat up from kids and pets, so anything will be improvement.
    Thanks,
    Chuck

    1. i can’t say for sure without knowing how thick the wear layer is. But so long as its 4mm or more then it should be fine (so long as its flat!) Believe me, being a carpenter or a floor layer does not mean you will be good at sanding in anyway, I have seen a lot of floor fitters and carpenters try their hand and its rarely any good. The biggest problem people have is assuming it will be easy and just trying their hand.

  62. Hello, we installed engineered hardwood bamboo in our home and in 5 months, it has cupped all over the house, including underneath beds and in closets. A third party inspector has reported that it was installed incorrectly. In your article, you mentioned not sanding if the cupped floor is “too far gone”. Would you recommend starting over completely? Thanks so much for any advice you can give!

    1. its hard to tell without seeing the floor. The reason wood floors cup is because there is moisture coming from beneath the floor. There may be some solutions for fixing this without digging up the floor and putting a moisture barrier down. For example having a trench dug around the house so that water can escape out the sides before it gets to the level of the floor. Having a soak away on the drive. I have also seen floors that have been damaged by damp because the drain for the guttering beside the house was cracked in the concrete and water was getting in above the moisture barrier. If you can identify the problem, fix it and let it dry out, you may find the cupping reversing on your floors and flattening out.

  63. I have Villa Red Oak Hazelnut 3/8″ x 5×5 glued down on concrete. Entry and dining room had slight water damage. Hired someone who removed some pieces and replaced with less glue (so uneven) and one piece with 30 hammer marks. They they applied a shiny varnish in a portion to part of the room and left. I can live with the uneven I guess but I’m stuck what to do. Remove all.. which goes into other rooms… just add varnish or some kind on the rest of the house. Or do I have to sand, stain, and varnish. Help! Please…. I cannot find professional companies in town that fix engineered wood.

    1. I say sand and refinish. I am hearing more and more about companies not sanding engineered wood. I just don’t get it, they are great floors to sand!

  64. Hello, I wonder if you can offer me some help. I have an Oak engineered flooring that is installed running through the downstairs of my home. I run a Doggy Hotel and the one room is ruined by dog urine so it shows very dark patches in places. It was installed 9 years ago so I imagine through all of my scrubbing the lacquer has gone. Can I cover in a dark stain and maybe wax or oil it to make it look presentable again?

    1. dark stains do help, one thing I have seen people do is soak the stains in hydrogen peroxide then put a tea towel over it and iron over it. This reduces the appearance of the stain but can slightly bleach it around the stain. Then you go over with a dark stain and voilà! I highly recommend against hardwax oil, its not durable and its terrible for chemical/spill resistance. Go for polyurethane

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