Buffing and Coating Explained – The Process

Buffing and Coating Explained – The Process

So you understand the importance of periodically screening and recoating your wood floors and want to hire buffing and coating services. What should you expect from this process?

Before Buffing and Coating

Even though buffing and coating is a simple process, much less disruptive than a full sand-and-refinish job, you still have to move your furniture out. It is not necessary, however, to move your family and pets out of the house as in the case of a refinishing job. Depending on the size of the floor, a buffing job can be completed in one day, or even half a day. In addition, if a dust containment system is used, the dust caused by the buffer is dramatically reduced, and your house does not become a dust-covered nightmare.

The Buffing

In order for a new protective coat to adhere to the floor, the old one must be partially removed. There are two reasons for this. First, the old polyurethane surface may wear the signs of wear and tear, and applying a new coat on top of a damaged surface will rather highlight than hide the imperfections. Second, the new finish coat will adhere better to a slightly abraded surface.

Before starting the buffing process, the floor must be prepared. This means making sure than no surface coat is covering the polyurethane, like wax or other conditioning products that you may have used in the past to give your floors extra luster. Nails or staples must be removed, so that the buffer is not damaged and does not cause any scratches into the wood. If buffing and coating is part of a remodeling job, the floor should be checked for traces of paint left behind. This is followed by vacuuming and a thorough washing of the floor.

When the floor is completely dry, it is ready for the actual buffing process. For small projects, a pole sander may be sufficient, but larger areas call for the use of a buffer. A buffer is an electric or battery-powered machine with a rotating buffing disk to which an abrasive pad or screen is attached. Using a buffer ensures better, faster and more uniform results.

Starting from the middle of the room, the buffer is used in circular motions to remove the surface layer of the polyurethane coat. The buffer takes some time to get used to, so we tend to recommend that you leave this job to a professional. The buffing around the perimeter of the room can be done manually. This process is followed by another round of cleaning, using a vacuum, then a rug, to ensure that all debris is removed.

The Coating

After all the floor was prepared to receive the new coat of polyurethane, the sealer is applied, usually with a T-bar. The polyurethane can be oil-based or water-based, but must be the same kind as the existing coat. Water-based polyurethane takes less time to dry, around 4 hours compared to the 24 hours necessary for the oil-based polyurethane.

Depending on the level of protection you are looking for, you can choose one or more coats of polyurethane. However, considering that screening is necessary between coats (so that each coats adheres well), several coats mean that the project may extend to more than one day, in order to allow each finish coat to dry.

The best part of the recoating process is that you can change the sheen level of your floor. If you used to have a matte finish and are dreaming of a more dramatic, glossy look, now is the time to change it. While you are working on the sheen element, remember that no additional buffing of the wood floor is necessary after you apply the finish, to “shine up” your floor. The gloss simply comes with the finish, so all you have to do is let it dry.

Localized Buffing and Coating

If only part of your floor is in bad shape, you may wonder if you can localize the job. This depends on the particular situation and on how experienced the one who does the buffing is. If you want to restrict the project to one room, but the floors extend from one room into another, it will be difficult to preserve the continuity between the buffed and the non-buffed room. In this case, you can set up a floor divider between the two rooms, to minimize the difference.

If you want to buff only part of a room’s floor, this is also possible, but the results are often hard to control. This is because the buffing process needs to be limited to only a few boards and not cross beyond their borders. It must also be done along the grain, otherwise the fix will be obvious. This is why we recommend that you buff and coat the floor in its entirety, so that you avoid unsightly differences.

After Buffing and Coating

By contrast with a full refinish job, you must only wait for 24 hours to walk on the newly buffed floor and a few days to bring your furniture back in. However, it is a good idea to keep rugs off the floor for about a month.