I get asked frequently by customers whether their hardwood floor needs a buff and coat (which is faster and less expensive) or a complete sand and refinish (which costs more and takes more time). As you can imagine, people often wish that they could get by with just a buff and coat, but that’s oftentimes not the case.

So what is a buff and coat and how does it differ from a sand and refinish? And when do you use a buff and coat vs a sand and refinish? Let’s dive into both of these questions now.

Buff and Coat

A buff and coat involves using a screen mesh to lightly abrade the existing polyurethane finish so that you can add another protective layer on top. This is really a continual upkeep process that you should engage in every few years to help protect your hardwood finish and keep it looking new.

Sand and Refinish

A sand and refinish, on the other hand, involves entirely sanding away the top layer of wood (not just abrading the protective finish), so that you expose a new fresh layer of hardwood. This is accomplished using several different grades of sandpaper to get to that new layer of hardwood, applying the stain, and then the protective polyurethane finish.

When to Use a Buff and Coat vs a Sand and Refinish

Check out these two pictures below.

Buff & Coat vs. Sand & Refinish, A Saberi Interiors Buff & Coat vs. Sand & Refinish, A Saberi Interiors

It’s probably not hard to tell when comparing these two pictures, which one could use a buff and coat and which one could use a sand and refinish, but if you guessed that the one on the left is the one that needs the sand and refinish, then good job, you’re absolutely right!

If you notice that the floor on the right has clear looking scratches, those scratches are cuts into the polyurethane finish, and not the wood itself, and thus ideal for a buff and coat.

Also, if you notice (like the following pictures) your hardwood floor begins to look greyish in color, this means that you will need to sand and refinish your floors because the polyurethane finish has been completely worn away and the wear and tear are removing the stain.

Buff & Coat vs. Sand & Refinish, A Saberi Interiors Buff & Coat vs. Sand & Refinish, A Saberi Interiors

To Sum it Up About Buff and Coat vs Sand and Refinish

To extend the life of your hardwood floor, you should consider the buff and coat as part of your upkeep every few years. And you should really aim to reapply a protective layer to your floors prior to seeing any damage. Once you get deep cuts or scratches or the stain begins to fade, it is too late for a buff and coat and you’ll need to sand and refinish your hardwood floors to keep them looking new.

One of the best protective measures you can take with your hardwood floors is making sure that you use protective felt pads underneath all furniture and to keep your pet’s nails regularly trimmed.

We hope this was helpful. If you’re needing more information and/or want to get your hardwood floors sand and refinished and you live on the peninsula or in San Mateo County, please call us at 650-773-7823 or drop us a line here. Thanks!