Can You Refinish Prefinished Hardwood Floors?

A photo showing a floorer laying hardwood floors

Prefinished hardwood flooring is currently trendy as hardwood manufacturing is becoming the biggest breakthrough in delivering style, design, and performance options. In addition, the floorboards used to design these hardwood floors are exceedingly durable and are designed for easier installation. What’s even better? The durable surface of prefinished hardwood floors guarantees protection against high traffic.

However, that doesn’t mean they can last forever. Their reliability lowers when subjected to foreign forces and destructive elements. If that happens, you will want to revamp your floor’s default look, therefore calling into question, Can You Refinish Prefinished Hardwood Floors?

Let’s now zero in on more details encircling prefinished hardwood floors.

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What are Prefinished Floors?

Prefinished floors are those that come prefinished with sealants and stains. These floors are installed directly, considering they arrive ready to use. They are also coated with high-quality aluminum oxide to make them more durable, scratch-resistant, and endure other foreign elements. However, their major downside is they offer less customization, unlike unfinished wood.  

When installing prefinished floors, you will notice a groove between the boards. This establishes a flat floor with visible lines between each board. 

Can You Refinish Prefinished Hardwood Floors?

Yes, refinishing prefinished hardwood floors is advisable as it helps restore the original look, and it’s also a cost-effective option. Refinishing also adds more details to your hardwood floors, increasing the resale value of your home if you plan to sell it.

As spoken of earlier, prefinished hardwood floors are prone to scratches and other dents due to constant exposure to daily traffic. Fortunately, you can replenish the look of your prefinished hardwood floors by refinishing them.

However, refinishing your prefinished hardwood floors won’t yield desirable results as it was with the factory finish. That’s because you will involve too much distressing on the surface like wire brushing, hand-scraping, etc. Also, the stain color won’t match the initial factory stain. But these minor drawbacks should not prevent you from refinishing your worn-out prefinished hardwood floor. 

Is Prefinished Hardwood Floor Better than Unfinished Hardwood Floor? 

Prefinished and unfinished hardwood floors are both great home innovation options. But choosing the right option that corroborates your needs is not an easy task as both of these flooring options brag exceptional characteristics. 

Luckily, this guide got you covered, as I have highlighted what separates these two flooring options to help you choose one that suits your home. 

First, prefinished hardwood floors come ready to use, unlike unfinished options where you have to wait for days for the floor to cure fully. Even if the unfinished hardwood floor dries to the touch days after installing, it will still be susceptible to scraping until the waiting duration is due. 

Prefinished hardwood floors also have the benefit of eliciting fewer VOCs. By contrast, unfinished options elicit high levels of VOCs on-site, rendering your family health risks. Also, you don’t have to hesitate about dust with prefinished options. But this annoyance is common with unfinished hardwood during installation. 

One major downside of prefinished hardwood is it sacrifices customization. You can’t adjust the sheen to bring out a luxurious look like unfinished options with this option. Better still, unfinished hardwood allows you to stain your floor with your desired color to match your room’s décor: this doesn’t hold true for prefinished hardwood floors. 

Ideally, prefinished hardwood floors are a better pick over unfinished options considering they are durable and nearly flawless. Also, prefinished options come with a lifetime warranty meaning your floor will stay new for years to come without sacrificing beauty. 

How Do You Prepare Hardwood Floors to be Sanded?

Disregarding the sanding phase in a newly installed hardwood floor minimizes time wastage and makes installation less messy. However, doing this is a big mistake as sanding helps roughen up the surface texture for stain and finish to stick as expected. 

Keep reading as we unfold how to prepare your hardwood floors for sanding. 

Clean the Room

Before sanding, it’s wise to clear out your room, so sanding dust doesn’t hide in your furniture pieces. Emptying the room also allows you to sand properly and access all the perimeters of the floor. Here are other things to do before sanding. 

  • Uninstall all window coverings and art on your walls to avoid a messy job.
  • If necessary, uninstall all doors that open to the room. This gives you enough space to move around with your drum sander.
  • Elevate any low-hanging light features to avoid head injuries.
  • Remove all nails on the floor. You do this because the nails might rip the sanding belt while sanding, which can be costly to repair. It’s even better to use a metal snow shovel to detect nails on your floor by dragging it throughout the floor upside down. If it strikes a nail, you will notice.

Clean the Floor

Cleaning your floor is paramount, even if you’re going to dirty it while sanding. Use a certified floor cleaner to rinse your floor, then use a scraper to peel down any stubborn dirt. 

Remove the Baseboards

If you have baseboards in your room, kindly remove them carefully using a pry bar. You do this because you don’t want to damage them mistakenly while sanding. 

Cover any Valuable furniture that’s hard to remove

All valuable furniture that doesn’t come out easily should be covered with sheets or protective covers. Also, it’s wise to close doors of other rooms to prevent sanding dust from accumulating throughout the house. This saves you time when it’s time to collect all the sanding dust. 


These are the supplies you will need to sand your hardwood floor: 

  • Sanding belts and discs. 
  • Sanding screens.
  • Plastic.
  • Protective sheets.
  • Shop vacuums.
  • Hammer.
  • Nail set.
  • Paint scraper. 
  • Dust mask. 
  • Drum sander. 

First, choose a drum sander that employs a continuous sleeve or belt. Please don’t go for other options that require a strip of abrasive around them as they are tedious and introduce chatter streaks on your floor. Also, choose a sander that integrates a lever to lift and lower the drum sander. Such an option makes instant stops and starts easier, reducing gouging significantly. 

While sanding, it’s best to use a drum sander to cover the larger areas of your floor, then use a paint scraper to access the confined spots where the machine can’t reach. After scraping, ensure you rough up the spots with 100 grit sandpaper. 

After sanding, screen the entire floor to blend the edges and drum-sanded spots. Doing so removes any sanding scratches, and you can achieve it using a sanding pole or a buffing machine. 

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors extends its lifespan and adds to its durability. Don’t worry if you are strange to this field of expertise, as I have designed guidelines to help you handle this task like a pro. 

Step 1: Clean your floor with a hardwood floor cleaner. 

Surface cleaning is always a priority with any refinishing or painting project. So begin by driving out all the furniture. Follow with spraying the floor with a high-quality floor cleaner. Next, wipe your floor with a soft rag or a mop. Once you’re through, let the floor dry, then close doors to contain the sanding dust for an easy clean-up after sanding. 

Step 2 

Next, wear your protective supplies, including the face mask and eye protection. This prevents you from suffering health issues like respiratory infections. Once you’re set, attach a buffing pad to your buffer and begin sanding. Make spiral movements across the floor in the grain’s direction to attain a more extensive coverage. 

You will notice the existing finish turns to powder as you proceed; therefore, it’s easy to identify the spots you’ve covered. Ensure you stop after every 10 minutes to vacuum the pad. After sanding, use 180 grit sandpaper to hand-sand the nooks and perimeters that the machine can’t access. 

Step 3

After sanding, vacate the room for about 10 minutes to allow the sanding dust to settle. Next, slide a clean filter in your vacuum and make a pass over the floor. Move across the flooring strips and swipe them gently to excavate dust that sat between the floorboards. 

Step 4 

It’s now the ripe time to finish your hardwood floor. Take a clean paint dish, pour a small amount of the finish, and use a paintbrush to spread the finish on all the floor’s edges. Apply the finish in light coats to form traction where the second coat will stick easily. After that, take a paint roller and roll out your finish on the entire floor. You’ll want to use back and forth motion to achieve full and even coverage. Give your initial coating enough dry time, then skip to the second coat. 


In the second coat, you will need to overlap each pass to maintain a wet edge. You then allow the surface to dry to the touch and wait for a few days before introducing any impact on your refinished hardwood floor. 

Can You Sand and Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors? 

Yes, it’s advisable to sand and refinish engineered hardwood floors as it helps restore the original look. However, not all engineered hardwood floors are suitable for refinishing. For instance, you can’t refinish and sand floors with about 2 mm thick, thin wear layer. That’s because the floor will likely sustain damage. 

Ideally, even the thick engineered hardwood floors should be refinished with caution to avoid damage. It’s even better not to machine or hand-scrape the top finish due to the thin topcoat. 

Refinishing V Groove Hardwood Floors

V groove hardwood floors are illustriously known for their unmatched durability. These floor options add warmth to your space while remaining easy to maintain. V groove hardwood floors don’t need frequent replacements as other floorings because you can sand and refinish them if they wear out. However, you can only refinish them twice or thrice in their lifetime because of their delicate layers. That means if you sand down the top layer, you can’t go past that without messing with the floor’s integrity. 

Follow these steps to refinish your V groove hardwood floor like a pro. 

Step 1 

First, find out the amount of wood above your groove’s top line on the hardwood floor. This way, you will know the surface area of your refinishing project. Next, unscrew the electrical outlets on your floor and unfold the covers to assess the hardwood’s edges underneath. 

Step 2 

Use a utility knife to cut past the caulk and paint above the baseboards. Then take a pry bar and pry the baseboards from your walls. Remember to uninstall the baseboards carefully so that you reuse them instead of purchasing new ones. 

Step 3

This step involves sanding. So use high-grit sandpaper to sand your floors starting from the corners and restricted areas. Once you’re through, use a large upright sander to cover the large areas. 

Step 4 

After sanding, vacuum your workspace to collect the lingering sanding dust. Remember to wear your mask to avoid inhaling the tiny sanding particles. You then use a damp cloth to remove any left-out debris. 

Step 5 

Now that the surface is free from adherence failures stain your v groove hardwood floor following the wood’s grain direction. After that, use a clean rag to rub away any excess stains. Leave the surface to dry independently, then add the next coat to achieve a more vibrant color. 

Step 6

After staining, now apply your finish over the stained surface using a roller and allow it to dry overnight. You then pass medium-grit sandpaper over the surface to balance the surface deformities like high peaks and bubbles. Next, reinstall the baseboards along the walls and secure them into place by hammering them with wood-finishing nails. 

Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Problems

Prefinished hardwood flooring offers homeowners convenience in an installation alongside other benefits. However, this flooring option is accompanied by various problems, which we will unfold in this guide. Read on for more! 

Difficult Repairing

Repairing prefinished hardwood floors is complicated, unlike site-finished floors. For instance, if you weren’t keen on differentiating a dent or scratch while installing the floors, you will have to replace the damaged section. Even if you sand the damaged area, you will want to sand the entire floor to attain even coverage. Doing this removes the protective top layers from your boards, rendering them useless. So even standing is not an advisable method for mending prefinished hardwood floors. 

Seams are not sealed.

Prefinished hardwood floors are coated with protective sealants on the boards and the seams between the boards. However, the lines between the planks aren’t sealed with protective coatings during installation. As such, dirt, water, and grime accumulate, resulting in damage or mold growth. 

Fewer style options

Unfinished hardwood floors are versatile and more customizable than prefinished options. That’s because prefinished hardwood floors come ready to install, sacrificing flexibility. With the unfinished options, you can stain with your preferred color to compliment your room’s décor. 

Requires a flat floor

Site-finished hardwood floors are installed on the site. That means you can bypass any surface imperfections like height irregularities by sanding the unfinished floor. This isn’t the same with prefinished hardwood floors, as any floor deformities are transferred to your hardwood floor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Buff Prefinished Hardwood Floors? 

Yes, you can buff the prefinished hardwood floor to resume its shine after wearing off due to high traffic. Buffing your prefinished hardwood floor also helps to preserve its bold and rich appearance. 

How Much Does it Cost to Refinish Prefinished Hardwood Floors? 

The cost of refinishing your prefinished hardwood floor depends on certain variables. For instance, you need to factor in the number of square feet of your floor, material costs, prep and repair work, special features of your floor, and the rest. With all these variables accounted for, the price is roughly $1,500. This price can fluctuate depending on your project. 

How Do You Clean Hardwood Floors After Sanding? 

A sanded hardwood floor doesn’t have a protective topcoat. That means you can’t use excess water or liquid to clean it. So it’s best to opt for other safe methods to clean your sanded hardwood floor and prevent it from warping. 

Here are proven methods to clean your sanded hardwood floor. 

Sweeping compound

Using an oil-based sweeping compound helps to attract and absorb dust. It also prevents clouds of dust from accumulating in the air. However, be cautious while using this medium to avoid abrasiveness. 

After applying this compound on your floor, make sure you sweep it throughout your floor to trap maximum dust. 

Dust Mopping

Specialized microfiber dust mops are the best for fetching dust after sanding your hardwood floors. It’s designed to attract and trap dust without raising the mop head, preventing dust from flowing in the air. 


After sanding, it’s advisable to pass a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power to suck up small debris and sanding dust from your floor. You should choose a vacuum with a soft bristle brush attached to a flat plastic head canister vacuum. This is the best option as it doesn’t scratch your floor while vacuuming. 

How Long Does Prefinished Hardwood Floor Last? 

A prefinished hardwood floor adds details to your room, and its durable surface means it can survive more than 25 years without replacement. But that’s assuming the floor is subjected to normal wear. If it’s exposed to extreme traffic, the lifespan reduces to 15 to 20 years. 

Can You Change the Color of Prefinished Hardwood Floors? 

Yes, you can change the color of your prefinished hardwood floor, assuming you sand or degloss the existing finish. If not, you will yield undesirable results as the surface will peel off with time and degrade prematurely. 


As stated in this guide, prefinished hardwood floors add elegance to rooms; that’s why homeowners favor them as the best flooring options. On the flip side, these flooring options can lose their integrity despite their durable qualities, especially if exposed to harsh elements. However, don’t worry if this occurs, as you can restore the look of your prefinished hardwood floor by applying a coat of finish over it. 

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