Buff or sand a wood floor

Q: A contractor told me that my floors would benefit from having a buff and refinish rather than a full refinishing. Is it legitimate to take a wood floor that was refinished 7 year ago, and treat it in this way, or would it be a wiser use of money to refinish?

The floors are still shiny, but they have various stains, scratches, and worn areas.

A: The answer to this question is loaded with variables. The answer depends on how it was finished initially. That is, what products and procedure were used. What has been used to clean the finish for the past 7 years, because some “cleaners” actually leave a film that will resist adhesion of a buff and coat of fresh polyurethane. Buffing and coating won’t help stains, deep scratches or grayed areas that have discoloured because the finish wore off. It should always be kept in mind that any floor has only so many full sandings in them before you are down to the tongue and groove, at which time it would have to be replaced. If I was going to do a buff and recoat on any floor, I would make clear to the home owner that I will do my absolute best, but can’t be held responsible if the finish fails because of contaminants that resist adhesion.

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  1. Follow-up Q: They used only Pinesol, diluted by lots of water, to clean the floors. She also used a “natural” mixture of water, vinegar, tea tree oil, and rosemary oil. I’m not sure if these few times she used these natural oils is a problem for buffing. My understanding is that towards the end she used Pinesol again.

    A: Pinesol is one of the “not wood floor friendly” things to use. I would use a good cleaner such as Bona Kemi Pacific Floor Cleaner mixed 5-1 in water and clean it several times. Hopefully this will remove any residue left by these other products and you could proceed with the recoat.

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