Can’t recoat over existing poly unless fully sanded down?

Q: I just bought a house and I’m trying to get it move-in ready. The oak floors are currently stained with an oil based poly coating in a satin/semi gloss finish. I want to try and re-coat (buff the existing poly and apply new coat) in a matte finish for a more natural look. I’m looking for the right product and process to achieve the matte finish.

I’ve received some comments from flooring guys saying I can’t recoat over existing poly unless it’s fully sanded down to raw wood, as product will not adhere properly. And to stick to an oil based matte finish coating, since you have oil based poly currently/ don’t switch to water based product as it will not adhere properly. Some vendors did not want to change it to a matte even, and said to stick to satin. Another said will need 2 coats of matte to remove the current shine, while other said 1 coat is OK.

I’m obviously confused and don’t know enough about this subject. Please help! 

A: You are getting a lot of inaccurate advice from what I can see. Let me start off with this.  If this is a factory finished floor you are better off leaving it to a professional.  The coatings used on these floors are designed to be scuff and scratch resistant and are close to impossible to simply buff down adequately to gain adhesion of another coat of finish.  If your current floor coating is oil or solvent based then I don’t think it can be a factory finish which is all water borne coatings.

I have just introduced a concept nobody has mentioned to you. Buffing or abrading, scratching the existing coating.  This is called creating a mechanical bond.  The existing coating has to be scratched adequately to allow the new coat of finish to grab and hold.  It doesn’t matter if the existing coating is oil/solvent based or not nor whether you wish to use water borne or oil to apply a new coat.  It all hinges on buffing the existing coating thoroughly to gain adhesion.  It would also be wise to first use a cleaner for removing contaminants.  Poloplaz for example has such a cleaner.

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