Recoating Timber Floors With A Prefinish

Prefinished timber is a popular modern flooring option in both residential and commercial buildings. Just like hardwood timber floors require care, prefinished timber requires proper maintenance over its lifetime. This guide to recoating timber floors with a prefinish covers everything you need to know to keep your floor in tip-top condition.

What is different about recoating timber floors with a refinish?

Prefinished timber floors are made from hardwood timber that is pre-treated and coated in a factory. While the pre-finish makes these timber boards quick to install, it does make them slightly harder to recoat when the finish wears off. To avoid damaging the floor, prefinished timber floors must be recoated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Unfortunately, choosing the right method for recoating timber floors with a prefinish is often easier said than done. This is because identifying the floor’s coating can be challenging as flooring installers don’t always provide this information to homeowners.

Recoating timber floors in seven simple steps

Below we outline seven simple steps for recoating timber floors with a prefinish. If you’re not sure what type of floor has been laid we always recommend contacting the flooring manufacturer to assist with Steps 1 and 2.

  1. Identify the type of floor that has been installed. Check that it is actually a prefinished timber product and that if it is, it can actually be recoated as not all damaged prefinished floors can be improved.
  2. Investigate what type of coating the floor currently has. Common finishes include UV-cured urethane, UV-cured oil, hard wax, and aluminium oxide. Also, check whether any floor polishes have been applied on top of the coating.
  3. Evaluate whether recoating and polishing is likely to improve the current appearance of the floor, or whether replacement is required.
  4. Prepare the floor by thoroughly cleaning it using cleaners and/or surface strippers recommended for use on that finish, and undertaking any other preparation specified by the flooring or finish manufacturer.
  5. Apply a small amount of the coating in a discreet area using the prescribed process as a test patch.
  6. When cured, attempt to scratch the test patch and then apply some tape to the coated area and tear it off to test whether the recoat has been applied correctly.
  7. If satisfied with the test patch, apply the coating according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, two coats should be applied when recoating timber floors to provide an added layer of protection.

Recoating timber floors – approaches for specific flooring types

Here are our top tips for recoating four most common prefinished timber floor types.

  • Bamboo floors – if the bamboo is adhesively fixed to the subfloor it can be recoated after first cleaning the floor, removing the remaining coating, and applying an adhesive-promoting primer. If the bamboo is installed as a floating floor applying a suitable polish is the best option.
  • Economically engineered floors, such as 1, 2 and 3 strip products – when installed as a floating floor, a suitable polish is the best option. If the flooring is adhesively fixed to the subfloor it can be recoated after cleaning and cutback with a specialised abrasive or applying an adhesive-promoting primer.
  • Modern floating engineered floors – for wide board strip products in European Oak and Australian timber, a suitable polish product is typically the best option, however many can also be successfully recoated after thorough cleaning and abrasion, or the application of an adhesive-promoting primer.
  • Direct adhesive fixed engineered floors with “special effect finishes” – can be recoated in a similar way to the other floors, but it is particularly important to check test coating applications for any change in appearance, as the finishes applied to these floors are often decorative.


  • ATFA, 2017, Recoating prefinished floors

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