A question we commonly get in our showroom is whether engineered wood floors can be refinished. This question is often asked by customers that are leaning more toward selecting a solid hardwood floor, and are not quite familiar with the benefits and advantages of engineered hardwood.

What Are Engineered Hardwood Floors?

Engineered hardwood is a durable and beautiful material that can be found in many homes. One of its most defining features, which makes it stand out from other woods, is the multiple layers running opposite directions within each board plank, giving them strength while preventing warping or cupping during use and allowing much wider pieces. There are many types of real wood that can be used to make engineered hardwood. Some popular choices include oak, ash, and cherry – each giving the surface their own unique look with varying degrees in texture or finish depending on what you prefer! Engineered hardwoods are a great alternative to solid wood floors because they tend not only be less expensive but also easier to install. Also, engineered woods are great if you live in an area with high humidity or moisture levels, as they’re less likely to warp. The top layer of flooring is both beautiful and functional. It’s made with a thin natural wood veneer that can come in many different species, giving your home the authentic look of solid wood.

Can You Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors?

If you have an engineered hardwood installed that is damaged due to traffic, dented and scratched, before sanding it down, there are a few things to consider. First, look at your hardwood floors to see how widespread the issues are. If it’s isolated to a few boards, replacing the individual boards will likely be more cost-effective instead of sanding down and refinishing all the floors. This is where a couple of additional boxes stored in a dry place would be extremely handy. If the floor is already falling apart, cupping, or water damaged, attempting to refinish is not recommended; you may have to look into replacing the floors. The thicker the top layer, the better. This makes it more likely it can be sanded down and refinished. The thickness of these layers varies depending on what type you have – 3 mm to 7 mm is typical.

How Much Does A Refinish Take Off Hardwood Floors?

On average a refinish takes .75 to 1 mm of your current floorboard’s density. That means that if your floor has only a 2mm veneer with a wirebrush and/or is handscraped, sanding down and refinishing is likely not an option since sanding down through the wear layer will total your floor. If your engineered floor however has a veneer that is 3 mm or more, refinishing at least once is very much possible. Another point to consider is the internal core of the floor. Although most engineered hardwoods will consist of a multi-ply core, newer hardwoods sold under the tag of ‘engineered’ are made instead from High Density Fiberboard (HDF) providing a harder backing to the veneer but much more sensible to moisture, and a much shorter lifespan than a multi-ply core. These floors (we don’t like to call this ‘hardwood’) will almost always be less expensive, and also have no more than a 1.5 mm veneer. This is not a product you would want to attempt to refinish.

How Many Times Can You Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors?

Many customers are surprised to learn that engineered hardwood can indeed be refinished once, and sometimes more. The type of floor you have will determine how many times it can be refinished. Most engineered hardwood veneers are between 3 mm to 7 mm. The general rule is you want to sand down your floors within no more than an inch of its thickness. If your thickness is 3 mm then can expect to sand it down 2 mm. So if you’re sanding it down 1 mm each time you can sand it down twice.
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Wear Layer Thickness # of Time Can Be Refinished
3mm 2
4mm 3
5mm 4
6mm 5
7mm 6
If you have a box of the original flooring lying around, use that to measure your top layer. Alternatively, you can take off a flooring vent and see how thick it is. The following can limit the number of times your engineered hardwood floor can be refinished:
  • Stains that are deep in the wear layer might require more sanding
  • Deep scratches or large dents will be harder to cover up
  • Cupped or warped floors will not be able to be refinished

How Often Can You Refinish Engineered Hardwood Floors?

The answer may surprise and delight you when you think about how often your floors need to be refinished. For most homes (especially ones with young children or pet owners), this is usually every ten years; however, if there’s heavy wear like scratches you can finish every five years. The type of wood will affect how often it needs to be refinished. For example, hardwoods like maple and hickory are more resistant to scratches while softer ones such as pine or fir can get dents more easily. The topcoat of polyurethane will have an influence on how long your floor lasts before it needs refinishing. We recommend 3-5 thin layers for maximum durability and protection against wear and tear.

What To Look For When Selecting An Engineered Hardwood?

If you are looking to have a floor that can easily be refinished there are a few things to consider when selecting an engineered hardwood. Texture: Select a product that has a subtle wirebrush and lightly handscrape rather than a deep, rustic handscrape. Veneer: Select a product with a veneer that is at least 3mm. Thicker veneer means more value overall and critical if you are intending to refinish the floor in the future. Type of finish: A polyurethane finished floor will give you more color options when you are ready to change the look of your floor. An oil finish or smoked product is just as great but, in some cases, the only option you have is to re-stain to a darker color. Species: Choose a harder more durable wood specie: Cherry, Hickory, Red Oak, and European White Oak are great options. These are the species most likely to come with a thicker veneer. Avoid birch and maple.

How Much Does Refinishing Engineered Hardwoods Floor Cost?

You can expect to pay between $3 and $8 a square foot to refinish your hardwood floors. The cost of floor refinishing depends on a lot of factors, including the type of floor refinishing, cost of labor, wood type, and how long it will take to get the job done.


If you think you would be interested in refinishing your hardwood floors in the future, you’ll want to plan ahead and choose flooring that actually can be refinished. Luckily, we carry engineered hardwood from the Madera Collection from Cambridge Estates that includes all sorts of texture and species variations for you to choose from, and has the ability to be refinished. If you’re ready to purchase your engineered hardwoods from the Madera Collection, or have other engineered hardwood questions, give our hardwood flooring contractors a call today!
Millennium Hardwood Flooring 9705 Research Blvd Suite C1 Austin, TX 78759 512-351-2258