Screen and Recoat Vs. Complete Refinishing: What’s Best for Your Antique Floors?

Screen and Recoat Vs. Complete Refinishing: What’s Best for Your Antique Floors?

When it comes to maintaining the beauty and longevity of antique wood floors, homeowners are often faced with a decision: to screen and recoat or to go for a complete refinishing. Both methods have their merits, but understanding their differences is crucial in making an informed choice that best suits your antique floors. This blog delves into the nuances of both techniques, helping you decide what’s best for your cherished floors.

Screen and Recoat: A Gentle Touch

Screen and recoat is a relatively simple process that involves lightly sanding (screening) the floor’s top finish layer and then applying a new coat of finish. This method is less invasive and ideal for floors that need a fresh look without heavy restoration.


  1. Less Intrusive: It doesn’t remove the wood itself, just the top layer of finish.
  2. Time-Efficient: The process is quicker compared to a full refinishing.
  3. Cost-Effective: Generally, it’s less expensive due to the simplicity of the process.
  4. Preserves Character: Ideal for maintaining the unique patina and character of antique floors.


  1. Limited to Surface-Level Issues: It cannot fix deep scratches, dents, or warped wood.
  2. Regular Maintenance Required: May need to be done more frequently than a full refinish.

Complete Refinishing: A Deep Restoration

Complete refinishing involves sanding the floor down to the bare wood, then staining (if desired), and finishing with a protective coat. This method is more comprehensive and suited for floors with significant damage or wear.


  1. Addresses Deep Damage: Ideal for floors with deep scratches, discoloration, or water damage.
  2. Long-Lasting: Tends to last longer than a screen and recoat.
  3. Customization: Opportunity to change the color and finish of the floor.


  1. More Intrusive: Removes a layer of the wood, which can be an issue for antique floors.
  2. Time-Consuming and Costly: Requires more labor and materials, hence more expensive.
  3. Potential to Alter Character: Might change the historic look and feel of the floor.

Making the Right Choice

Assessing Your Floor’s Condition

  • For Minor Wear: If the floor has minor imperfections like surface scratches or a dull finish, screen and recoat is usually sufficient.
  • For Significant Damage: If there are deep scratches, warping, or major discoloration, a complete refinishing might be necessary.

Considering the Floor’s Age and Value

  • Historical Significance: For floors with historical value, preserving originality is key. Screen and recoat can maintain the floor’s authenticity.
  • Thickness of Wood: Older floors might have been refinished multiple times. If the wood is too thin, a full refinish might not be possible.

Personal Preferences and Lifestyle

  • Aesthetic Goals: If you’re looking to significantly change the appearance of your floor, refinishing offers more options.
  • Lifestyle Considerations: In high-traffic homes, a more durable solution like complete refinishing might be practical.

The choice between screen and recoat and complete refinishing depends on various factors, including the condition of your floors, their historical value, and your personal preferences. For those looking to maintain the original charm of their antique wood floors with minimal disruption, screen and recoat is often the way to go. However, if you’re dealing with significant damage or seeking a major aesthetic change, complete refinishing might be the better option. Whichever route you choose, both methods, when done correctly, can significantly enhance the beauty and longevity of your antique wood floors.