When we meet with our customers they often want to know if they can get by with just a screen and coat. The process of a sand and refinish and a screen and recoat are very different and have different applications and finished results. A sand and refinish takes a few days to complete and is a multi-step process. When performing a sand and refinish the contractor uses a progression of sand paper ranging from a low grit to a finer more refined grit to achieve the ideal finished product.
A screen and coat requires far fewer steps and can be completed in a few hours. The process is not as effective as a full refinished because there are far less steps and less sanding involved. The screen and recoat uses a sanding screen which removed a small amount of the top coat and creates a surface the new finish can adhere to. After the abrasion is done a new coating is applied and the process is complete. The screen and coat does not reach raw wood and does not get out scratches and other major damage.
A screen and recoat is able to remove superficial and surface scratching. If there are deep scratches in the finish a refinish is likely necessary. A screen and recoat cannot address discolorations. A sand and refinish is able to remove deeper scratching and other issues. Even a sand and refinish has its limitations and cannot get out extremely deep scratching and some stains from pets. During a coat and refinish you can also do repairs and replace damaged boards.
A sand and refinish utilizes specific machines including belt sanders, edgers, hand sanding equipment, buffers and other machinery. A screen and recoat uses a buffer and the occasional hand held tool.
When repairs are needed a full sand and finish is the best option. A screen and recoat cannot properly blend the new and existing floor boards. When new hardwood is installed there are some small height differences and color differences that are best masked with a full recoating. The full sanding of a refinish is the best way to get the boards even and blended. A screen and re-coat cannot get the finished look the refinish will.
When working with prefinished hardwood flooring there are different elements to consider. The finish applied to prefinished flooring is chemically different than site finished floors. A screen and recoat is generally not recommended on these flooring types. When you are ready to refinish you prefinished wood there are some factors to consider. First, you will lose the micro beveled edges. Also you will have a different finish so the color may change some. Also you will want an expert to ensure your floor is refinishable. Finally you can talk with your flooring expert about additional options like staining.
When doing a sand and refinish you can choose to stain your flooring because the process brings the floor back to raw wood. When doing a screen and recoat you cannot stain your floor.
The length of time for the project is something to consider. A buff and coat or screen and recoat will take about one day. A full refinish takes 2-3 days or longer based on the specifics of your project. The finish may take some time to fully cure so these time frames are just for the project and not the curing of the floor.
The price difference is significant between a refinish and screen and recoat. The screen and recoat is generally a much more affordable project but this is because of the reduction in materials, time and machinery. The prices vary based on the contractor but you can expect it to be much lower in cost.
There are a lot of different reasons to choose a buff and coat over a refinish and vise versa. If you are just wanting to refresh your floor you may be able to do just a screen and coat but if you are needing damage removed a sand and refinish is ideal.