Pre-finished hardwoods are not meant to last forever! In-fact, they don’t stand up to heavy traffic like you were told in the big box store. Pre-finished hardwoods have an aluminum oxide finish coat that’s baked on at a manufacture. Pre-finished hardwoods are durable for some time. Our team, has noticed over the years that pre-finished hardwoods show scratches boldly. There’s something about pre-finished hardwoods that when they get scratched, it’s just so noticeable. However, pre-finished hardwoods are a real solid hardwood. Therefore, they can be sanded! This is good news because most of the industry is installing pre-finished hardwoods nowadays.
If you are a consumer looking to purchase hard surface flooring, please consider putting down raw site-finished hardwoods. It’s cheaper and you can have it refinished up to 5 times throughout the lifetime of the flooring. Pre-finished hardwoods can be sanded and refinished. We do it all the time! Most of the pre-finished flooring has a bevel in between each board. That bevel can be sanded flat, if you choose. However, it requires additional sanding. Thus, reduces the number of times that your floor can be refinished throughout the lifetime of your pre-finished hardwoods. If you choose to leave the bevel in the floor then you will still have the opportunity to refinish your floors many more times afterwards.
DO NOT FILL THE BEVEL!
That bevel we were just talking about above….ya, make sure that it never gets filled with wood putty (wood filler). Why? Because in a matter of 6 months, the filler will be cracking and peeling right out of it. Then, you will have to have your floors refinished again. Not a lot of people are aware of this trade secret. The rule of thumb, do not fill any gap or crack in the floor that is larger than a quarter (coin). If you can fit a quarter (coin) in the gap then it should not be filled. This is an industry standard set by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). Be worried, if a contractor says that they can fill those big gaps and consider just doing board repairs or replacements.
Sanding Pre-Finished Hardwood Flooring
The sanding process is very similar to site-finished flooring. There’s just a few extra things that must be done. Generally, we like to cross cut on the first few rips. This helps get the floor flatter and gets all of the oxide finish off. Using HEPA filters on vacuums is recommended so that you don’t inhale aluminum airborne particles. Usually after 4 passes the hardwood is ready for buffing. We spray the entire floor with water to check for missed spots that are not detected otherwise. This process is called water-popping and it also allows the stain to penetrate deeper into the grains of the wood flooring.
Seal and Finish
Once the floor is has been stained then its ready for sealer and finish coats. Pre-finished hardwoods are identical to site-finished hardwoods once it’s sanded down to raw wood. The same process from here forward as site-finished flooring. One coat of sealer is applied. This protects your color layer and gives the color it’s ultimate shine. When the sealer is dry, then two coats of finish is applied.
Takeaway: Your worn down pre-finished hardwood flooring can be refinished up to 5 times. You can change the color of the entire floor each time that it’s completely refinished. Leave the bevel in the floor and DO NOT have the bevel filled. Pre-finished hardwoods show scratches more than site-finished hardwoods.