When I made a wishlist of things I wanted in my dream house, light oak, wide plank floors were one of the first things I added. Fast forward to finding our new home. When we first walked in, the floors jumped out to me. They were a gray engineered hardwood (made locally by Seashore Floor Co.) which was not the look I was going for. The house checked almost every box for me, but not the floors. Thankfully there were spare pieces of the engineered hardwood flooring on site so it was easy for the contractors to tell if this engineered flooring could be refinished to a different color.
What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring
A lot of people pick engineered hardwood flooring because of its durability and the variety of PRE FINISHED looks available. It can be installed without the extra time of staining and also without the polyurethane application stinking up your house (as with many traditional hardwood flooring installations). Engineered hardwood is a thin wear layer of wood (think veneer) typically applied to plywood for its durability. Sanding usually depends on the thickness of this top layer of the engineered flooring product (the thicker the better for refinishing).
Not All Engineered Hardwood Can Be Refinished
It is ideal to have a spare piece of the flooring you want to refinish so a contractor (or yourself if you are an avid DIY’er) can see the thickness of the wear layer on the flooring. You can see I had some spare pieces of our engineered hardwood flooring and the top layer was definitely thick enough (several contractors told me they wanted at least a 2 mm top coat). Many engineered hardwood products are made thick enough that they can be refinished a few times in their lifespan.
Sanding Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Sanding the top layer of hardwood will buff out most scratches and dents, but can also be used to change the color and/or finish of the flooring. Since I wanted a light natural wood look, I was thrilled with how our engineered floors looked when our crew sanded off the gray finish. Our engineered flooring had a wire brushed finish to add texture and while it is less evident than it was with the gray you can still see the effect in our flooring.
What Stain Did We Add When Our Engineered Hardwood Floors Were Refinished
In our Connecticut home we did a custom stain on our red oak hardwood flooring. Those floors were a traditional hardwood product, and if you’ve had red oak floors you know they have prominent pink undertones. I picked a stain I felt balanced the pink undertones enough to give me the look I was happy with.
Since the engineered floors in our new home were a white oak top layer and I wanted a light, natural wood look I had one coat of Bona Nordic Seal applied to the sanded engineered hardwood floors and then two coats of their water based polyurethane applied. The Nordic Seal is almost like a VERY diluted white wash just to dim some of the yellow tones.
If you are unhappy with the color or condition of your engineered hardwood I would encourage you to contact a flooring contractor in your area about the potential of refinishing your engineered hardwood floors. Floors COMPLETELY transform the look of a home (hence why I’ve undertaken such a messy project in our last 3 homes)! It is worth the hassle in my opinion. My floors bring me a lot of joy when I am home!!