DIY sanding a prefinished wood floor

Q: We had pre-finished hardwood installed in our home when it was built. It was everywhere except the great room. Recently we decided to put wood in the great room but that pre-finished wood color was no longer available. So, we installed unfinished red oak, got stain custom matched (it matches perfectly) and put down the coats of poly.

We used a satin because the piece we tested with semi-gloss was too glossy compared to what the builder installed. However, the satin is duller than the existing wood. We actually prefer the satin and would like to change the sheen of the builder installed pre-finished hardwood to match the new wood.

What is the process, and can we do this ourselves? My husband is very good with these things, but even he is having doubts.

A: I’m afraid I share your husbands doubts. There are 2 long term problems with factory finished floors. First is the coatings which are extremely tough. In fact they are abrasion resistant. If you can’t adequately scratch the coating you won’t gain adhesion with the next coat. The next issue is the bevels. Even if they are only micro bevels they are still there and have to also be dealt with. You can’t just apply a coat of finish over them without scuffing them also. I generally tell people that the cost of maintenance on factory finished floors is more expensive because eventually you will need to sand them down to clean wood rather than just doing a buff and coat. And in that case, they have to be sanded enough to remove the micro bevels. It is twice the work of a square edged floor. Basic Coatings has a product which is suppose to chemically prepare these floors to accept another coat. He could look that up and consider what they offer. I don’t think it’s cheap and one person I knew years ago who used it said you still need to screen the floor with a polisher and a screen disc.

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