Pre-finished floors are extremely durable, and installation is a piece of cake for both the installer and the homeowner. But pre-finished floors have some limitations, too, especially when it comes to refinishing them. One of the selling points of pre-finished hardwood floors is that they can be refinished if they become worn or damaged, and while that’s true, you should also be aware of a few caveats.

What are pre-finished floors?

Unlike unfinished hardwood floors, which are installed in a home and coated with polyurethane on-site, pre-finished floors have their coating applied at the factory as part of the manufacturing process. The finish is aluminum oxide urethane that’s cured to the wood with ultraviolet light, preserving its color and creating an extremely durable, scratch-resistant floor.

Can Pre-Finished Floors be Refinished?

Although pre-finished wood floors can, technically, be refinished, you may not be as thrilled with the results as you were with the factory finish. For one thing, any characteristic surface textures, such as hand-scraping, wire brushing, and distressing, will be lost, because in order to remove the aluminum oxide urethane, the floor has to be sanded down past the old coating. For another thing, the stain color won’t be as even when the floor is re-sanded on-site as it is when it’s done in the factory.

Proper Cleaning is Essential for Protecting Your Floors

Proper maintenance of your pre-finished floors will preclude the need to have them refinished, and proper maintenance starts with how you clean your floors. Many well-meaning people—including some HGTV hosts—recommend using apple cider vinegar or a steam mop for “green” cleaning solutions, but the acidity in vinegar and the moisture of a steam mop can cause serious damage your floors. Most other store-bought cleaners have ingredients that leave residue that’s not only difficult to remove, but which may also leave your floors looking dull and tired.

A number of great products are available for safely cleaning your hardwood floor. Generally, any cleaner that’s recommended by a hardwood flooring expert will be a good choice. I always recommend products from Bona, the wood floor industry leader. Bona carries a range of non-toxic, environmentally responsible cleaners specifically formulated for your type of floor.

The Power of a Periodic Re-Coat

Every few years, or when your finish begins to look dull and scratched, a polyurethane re-coat is in order. After chemically treating the old aluminum oxide urethane coating for bonding purposes, a new coat of polyurethane is laid down, restoring the floor to its former glory and continuing to protect it from wear and damage.

The Bottom Line

Cleaning your floors properly and having them recoated when the finish starts to look dull and scratched will go a long way toward preserving them for the long-term. Well-maintained hardwood floors don’t need sanding and refinishing, unless a homeowner wants to change the color. If you have any questions about maintaining your floor or having it recoated, feel free to contact The Floor Doctor today for expert tips and information or to schedule a free in-home floor evaluation.


Trevor Hayden is The Floor Doctor. An Omaha native and a Bona-certified craftsman, Trevor’s industry expertise and his passion for everything hardwood are apparent in his award-winning work. He specializes in restoring all types of wood floors in any condition using the least invasive—and least expensive—process necessary.