Can You Refinish Engineered Hardwood? A Concise Guide

Engineered hardwood floors are known for their durability and pleasing aesthetics, but homeowners often wonder if they can refinish these surfaces. The answer depends on the thickness of the top veneer layer.

If the veneer layer is thick enough, typically around 3mm or more, you can refinish engineered hardwood flooring successfully. However, thinner veneers may not withstand the sanding process, risking damage to the planks.

Keep in mind that refinishing engineered hardwood can only be done a limited number of times, as opposed to solid hardwood, which can endure several refinishing sessions throughout its lifespan.

Can Engineered Hardwood Be Refinished?

Engineered hardwood is a popular flooring option due to its durability and natural appearance, raising the question of whether it can be refinished over time. The answer depends on the thickness of the top veneer layer of the engineered hardwood.

Typically, engineered hardwood floors with a thin veneer layer of 0.6mm to 2mm can be refinished once or twice, whereas those with a thicker layer of 3mm to 6mm can be refinished multiple times. This is because the sanding process removes a small portion of the veneer layer each time a floor is refinished.

When refinishing an engineered hardwood floor, it is important to use professional sanding equipment and a gentle touch. This ensures that you don’t accidentally remove too much of the veneer layer, potentially damaging your floor. For this reason, professional help is recommended for refinishing engineered hardwood floors.

When deciding whether to refinish your floor, consider the following aspects:

  • The thickness of the veneer layer
  • The expected lifespan of the floor
  • Cost of refinishing versus replacement
  • Environmental impact of refinishing versus replacement

If your engineered hardwood floor has a thick enough veneer layer and is in need of a facelift, refinishing may be a viable option for you. Always consult a professional to ensure the best results and maintain the integrity of your flooring.

Factors to Consider When Refinishing Engineered Hardwood

Refinishing engineered hardwood can be a great way to revitalize your flooring, but before jumping into the project, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

Wear Layer Thickness

Not all engineered hardwood floors are created equal. One of the most significant factors to consider is the thickness of the wear layer. Here’s a breakdown of the different wear layer thicknesses and their refinishing capabilities:

Wear Layer ThicknessRefinishing Potential
Less than 0.6mmNot recommended for refinishing
0.6mm – 2mm1 refinishing is possible
2mm – 4mm2-3 refinishings are possible
Above 4mm3-5 refinishings are possible

Flooring Age and Condition

Another factor to consider is the age and condition of your engineered wood flooring. Examine the floor for signs of damage, particularly in high-traffic areas. Deep scratches, water damage, or severe stains may require more in-depth repairs or treatments to improve the look of your flooring.

Type of Finish

The type of finish on your engineered wood flooring also plays a role in the refinishing process. Keep in mind that some finishes, such as oil-based finishes, may be more difficult to refinish than other options like water-based polyurethane. Understanding the needs of your specific finish can help determine the most effective refinishing process.

Section 4: Refinishing Process for Engineered Hardwood

Preparing the Surface

Before starting the refinishing process, it is important to prepare the surface of the engineered hardwood. This involves:

  • Removing any furniture, area rugs, or accessories from the room.
  • Thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming the floor to remove dust and debris.
  • Cleaning the surface with a suitable hardwood cleaner to remove any residual dirt or grime.
  • Allowing the floor to dry completely before moving on to the next step.


Be aware that engineered hardwood has a thinner veneer layer compared to solid hardwood, so sanding must be done carefully to avoid damaging the wood. Generally, it can be sanded 1-2 times, depending on the thickness of the veneer.

Begin by selecting the appropriate grit of sandpaper, typically starting with a lower grit (around 80) and gradually moving to a higher grit (around 150) for a smoother finish. Use a floor sander to evenly sand the surface, following the direction of the wood grain. Sanding may reveal spots that require additional attention, such as deep scratches or uneven areas.

Applying the Finish

Once the sanding is complete, it’s time to choose and apply the finish to your engineered hardwood:

  1. Select the desired finish type, such as water-based or oil-based polyurethane.
  2. It’s recommended to apply at least two coats for better durability, allowing the floor to dry between each coat as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Use a quality brush or floor applicator to apply the finish, following the wood grain direction.
  4. Let the finish cure for the time specified by the manufacturer, typically 24-48 hours, before allowing foot traffic on the floor.

Advantages of Refinishing Engineered Hardwood

Refinishing engineered hardwood flooring comes with several benefits that make it a popular choice for homeowners. Here are some of the advantages:

  • Cost-Effective: Refinishing engineered hardwood is often more affordable than replacing the entire floor, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.
  • Longevity: A proper refinishing can extend the life of engineered hardwood floors by several years, allowing homeowners to enjoy their flooring for longer periods without needing to replace them.
  • Visual Appeal: Refinishing can restore the original beauty of engineered hardwood, removing scratches, dents, and discoloration that may have occurred over time.
  • Customization: Homeowners can change the look and feel of their engineered hardwood floors by choosing different stains and finishes during the refinishing process.
  • Eco-Friendly: Refinishing engineered hardwood reduces waste and conserves resources, as it requires less material and energy than replacing the entire floor.

It’s important to note that refinishing engineered hardwood floors is not always possible, as the thickness of the veneer layer can affect the number of times a floor can be refinished. Thicker veneers offer more opportunities for refinishing, while thinner veneers may only allow for one or two refinishing sessions. Before making the decision to refinish, it’s crucial to assess the condition of the floor and consult with a professional to ensure it’s the appropriate choice.

Disadvantages of Refinishing Engineered Hardwood

Refinishing engineered hardwood floors comes with certain drawbacks that need to be considered before deciding on this process. While it can be a cost-effective way to refresh the look of your floors, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues.

First, the thickness of the top layer of engineered hardwood determines how many times it can be refinished. On average, these top layers range from 0.6mm to 4.5mm. Floors with thinner layers may only withstand one or two refinishing processes, while thicker layers can handle multiple refinishing sessions over the years.

Additionally, refinishing engineered hardwood can be more challenging than refinishing solid hardwood due to the presence of adhesives and the multi-layered construction. This may result in the need for professional help and potentially higher costs for the project.

Another disadvantage is the possible loss of warranty for your floors. Some manufacturers may void the warranty if the floor is refinished, as it could alter the original appearance and performance of the product. It’s essential to check with the manufacturer before proceeding with refinishing.

Potential damage to the subfloor and stability of the planks is another concern when refinishing engineered hardwood. Over-sanding or improperly sanding the top layer can expose the layers beneath, compromising the overall structure and necessitating costly repairs.

Alternatives to Refinishing Engineered Hardwood

While refinishing your engineered hardwood flooring can add value and life to it, there are also some alternative methods you can use to restore the appearance of your floors:

Screen and Recoat

A less invasive method than refinishing is the screen and recoat process. It involves lightly buffing the surface of the floor and applying a new coat of finish. This method helps to revive the floor’s appearance while preserving the wear layer of the engineered hardwood.

You will need a floor buffer, sanding screens, and a compatible finish for your engineered hardwood. This process can be completed in a few steps:

  • Buff the entire floor using a sanding screen.
  • Thoroughly vacuum and clean the floor to remove dust and debris.
  • Apply a new coat of finish to the floor as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Allow the finish to cure for a minimum of 24-hours before walking on it.

Screen and recoat is a cost-effective method but is only suitable for floors with minor wear and scratches.

Replacing the Damaged Area

For isolated damage or heavily worn areas, it may be more practical to replace the damaged planks instead of the entire floor. The process involves removing the damaged planks and installing new ones that match the existing flooring.

Follow these steps to replace a damaged plank:

  1. Use a circular saw or oscillating tool to cut the damaged plank into smaller sections.
  2. Carefully remove the cut pieces, taking care not to damage the surrounding planks.
  3. Prepare the new plank by trimming the tongue and groove edges to fit.
  4. Apply adhesive to the back of the new plank and slide it into place.
  5. Secure the plank with a weight or bracing device until the adhesive fully sets.

Keep in mind that replacing planks can be more challenging for floors that are glued or nailed down, and it may require professional assistance.

Leave a Comment