Replace or Refinish Your Hardwood Floors?

Wondering whether to replace or refinish your hardwood floors? This article sheds some light on the matter with essential tips to help you make the right decision.

Hardwood makes one of the most preferred flooring materials. The reasons people like hardwood floors vary, but they often feature elements of durability, aesthetics, and cost over time. Installing hardwood floors may be a significant cost investment, but the durability of the flooring for up to two decades before replacement makes them preferable.

Despite their durability, hardwood floors are not everlasting, and their lifespan ranges between 20 and 30 years. After that, they often require replacement. Over that time, hardwood floors can be finished multiple times, even up to 10 times. Each round of finishing results in an almost entirely new look.

Finishing Hardwood Floors

In most cases, you will need finishing for your hardwood floor. Finishing is a simple process to make the floor look new again. It generally entails sanding the flooring to eliminate stains, dents, or scratches on the floor's surface. While refinishing can restore your floor to look almost the same as it looked when new, it also allows for changes such as having a different color.

Thanks to the durability of hardwood floors, most surface damages often require some refinishing work. And since refinishing can be done multiple times, this is often the most straightforward option compared to a floor replacement. But, some exceptions make replacement the ideal solution rather than refinishing.

Replacing Hardwood Floors

Replacement of hardwood floors is replacing the old hardwood floor and installing a new one. The process is more costly than refinishing. According to some estimates, replacing a hardwood floor could be up to five times more expensive than refinishing. Moreover, the process is more demanding regarding the amount of work and labor intensity.

Some factors should inform you that your hardwood floor needs a replacement rather than refinishing. These factors include;
  • Severe hardwood floor damage: You may need replacement when a significant part of the floor, probably 30% or more, has some severe injury, such as termite infestation, chipping, or warping.
  • Structural damage: Under-floor damage often needs a floor replacement. As the floor's foundation, a damaged subfloor requires immediate attention and replacing the hardwood floor.
  • Extreme wear: When you refinish the hardwood floor severally, such that nuts in the planks and nails start to show, it is time to replace the floor.
  • Floor movement: Because of weather and temperature changes, the hardwood floor expands and contracts at different times. Such actions can cause wide gaps between the boards to appear, and this would require a replacement of the entire floor.
If you are unsure whether to replace or refinish your hardwood flooring, seek professional guidance.


Whether to replace or refinish your hardwood floor boils down to specific realities. Generally, when the flooring has some cosmetic and less severe damage, the better solution is refinishing. However, a replacement is the best option when the damage is more powerful. Either way, working with a flooring expert can help you determine whether to replace or refinish your hardwood floor.

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