When researching hardwood flooring you have probably seen a lot of talk about buff and coats vs sand and refinishing. These projects has some similarities but there are also a lot of differences. A sand and refinish requires a lot more labor and multiple days to complete while a screen and coat or buff and coat takes very little machinery and time. The buff and coat process can be completed in just a few hours.
A screen and coat can handle many of your superficial or surface scratches. A sand and refinish can handle much deeper scratches. Both a recoat and a refinish have their limitations and cannot guarantee very deep scratches, staining and other discoloration will be removed. If you have pets and have a lot of scratching a sand and refinish is a better option for a more consistent finished product.
The machines used on these projects are also different. A refinish uses a belt sander, an edger, other handheld sanding equipment and a buffer. A buff and coat requires only a buffer.
Repairs are not possible when doing a simple recoat. If boards need to removed and replaced a refinish is your only real option. The new boards needed to be sanded down to be flush with the existing floor and the color variations will be very noticable if the whole floor is not refinished when they are installed.
If your floor is prefinished you will need to have it recoated. The chemical traits of a prefinished top coat are different and a buff and coat generally wont work with these materials. A sand and refinish is necessary to remove the factory finish.
When considering the two options you will want consider if you are interested in a new stain color. A full refinish can include a stain but a buff and coat cannot. There are so many new trends in hardwood staining that you may be considering having your flooring done just to change the color. With both options you can choose the sheen type you would like for your finish coat.
The timeline and pricing are also big factors between these two projects. The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with a hardwood professional. Hardwood professionals can assess you floor and see if a buff and coat will work or if a full refinish is needed to achieve the ideal finish product. In the end each floor and customer have different needs and there is no blanket statement for if a refinish or screen and coat is ideal.