Refinish or Replace Hardwood Floors?

To ensure that you have good floors in your house, just knock on wood. Nothing rivals the way wood warm ups a room, its classic good looks, or how long it lasts. These are the main characteristics of good hardwood flooring. Nevertheless, hardwood floors take a lot of abuse, and over time they can become stained, warped, chipped or just dirty. When your hardwood floor begins to appear worn out, you can refinish it to restore its original condition, or you can tear out the floor and completely replace it. So, the choice isn’t that easy: refinish or replace hardwood floors?

How to know that it is time to change the floor?

  • Scratching

Do you know that even one bad scratch can make you to completely refinish the floor in a room? If you don’t like to live in a room full of scratches for years, replacing the floor can be more cost effective and allow you to choose a floor with a special anti-scratch layer.

  • Discoloration

Hardwood can change colors for many reasons, but primarily it has to do with stains and fading caused by the sun. The most common discoloration is gray and black, but some floors may fade in color. The problem is hot when one part of the floor is exposed to direct sunlight. Discolored boards can be difficult to refinish at all, so replacement is more likely a better option.

  • Watering

If your wood floors are exposed to water for an extended period of time it is possible that they will become stained, warped or otherwise damaged. Separation of wood, cupping and dark areas are generally irreversible. If your home experiences any sort of flooding issue, plumbing related or otherwise, be sure to contact a cleanup crew right away in order to increase your chances of saving the hardwood.

  • Multiple refinishes

Refinishing hardwood involves sanding and staining. If you have already refinished your floor before and did it more than 3 times, it is likely best to replace than conduct refinishing any more. The sanding will compromise the structural integrity of the flooring as the wood is thinned out. This means it is more likely to crack.


When most people think of hiring a hardwood floor refinishing service, they think of the new beauty that comes from those services. Of course, this makes sense if it is possible to bring your floor back to life and give it a new shine and luster. But, there are other benefits that homeowners get when they have their old flooring refinished. So, what’s the matter?

Let’s compare these processes by…


Price is the first obvious variable to consider. Traditionally, it is almost always cheaper to refinish your floor than to replace it. When replacing, you must consider the cost of the new wood as well as the installation. You can save some money by installing the floor yourself, but this is a very time-taking process that needs specialized knowledge and precision. You can typically refinish a wood floor yourself, with just a few inexpensive solutions.

Aesthetic aspect

If your only goal is to brighten your floors and restore their original shine, consider refinishing them. But if you want to change some aspect of the floor itself, like the style of the wood, the direction of the planks or the consistency of the material, you will need to invest in a full replacement. Refinishing is ideal to restore existing wood, while replacement is ideal for establishing a completely new look or feel.


You cannot restore every wood floor by simply refinishing it. If your wood floor has become warped or if several of the planks have become damaged, you will typically need to replace the entire floor, as finishing will only brighten an already-damaged surface. Do you feel the difference? On really old floors, you may see the tongue where the boards come together, or your boards may lack adequate thickness. Floors like this are definite candidates for replacement, as refinishing is purely cosmetic.

Time of execution

Refinishing can actually take much more time than fully replacing a wood floor. Are you surprised? Refinishing is a messy, meticulous process than can take approximately four to five days, during which the floor surface must remain completely untouched. The process requires sanders, buffers, scrapers, brushes, base coat sealers, putty knives and sometimes paint. Replacement, on the other hand, can be done in considerably less time using only lumber, a couple of saws, measuring tape, a flat bar, a chalk line and a nail gun. So, sure enough, considering the time, you’d pick replacing.

Age of your floor

The age of your floor also plays an important role. If your floor has been in place for decades, it may resist refinishing for a number of reasons. For instance, if it has already been refinished several times or if too much of the surface wood has become exposed, refinishing your floor may have little effect. For very old floors, replacement can often be preferable to refinishing.

Planning to DIY? There are many steps to take: sanding, patching, staining, and top coating.

If you want your floors professional refinished or replaced, you can find local contractors using several online services. Average cost depends on your area. Read all of their online reviews carefully. Got questions? Message the person who left the review for additional information. Concerned about fake reviews? Authentic ones usually provide details about the user’s experience.

If you have doubts about the company’s professionalism, check the feedback’s for complaints. But if you spot one, don’t assume the worst until you read how the consumer’s claim was resolved. Even contractors make mistakes from time to time. But a well-intention-ed one will settle customer problems in a professional manner where all parties are satisfied. Make sure that the contractor is bonded, licensed and insured to work in your area. To do ask for each number and certification, then confirm if all are up to date.

Take a Challenge By Installing Hardwood Flooring Yourself

Do you have a couple of unfinished bonus room above your garage? What do you think about installing the oak hardwood flooring in there? So, and what do you say about installing hardwood flooring yourself? Well, it wouldn’t terribly difficult, but it would have its challenges. So, for anyone else, who might be taking on the task, here’s a rundown of what you can do.


First off, why hardwoods? What if wall-to-wall carpet is much better? Carpet can be a good easy option. Besides, hardwood is a good choice for a cozy bonus room. Let’s find out WHY.


Engineered vs. Solid Wood Flooring

As it was discussed in different internet guides, the two main types of hardwood flooring—solid and engineered—differ significantly.

Engineered wood flooring is often thinner than solid wood flooring. It is manufactured with a thin surface layer of hardwood and a core that’s more like plywood. If you intend to install the floor yourself, engineered-wood flooring is usually the best bet because it is pre-finished, eliminating the need for sanding and finishing the floor, which dramatically simplifies the job.

In addition, because engineered-wood flooring is made from layers of wood sandwiched and bonded together, it is more stable than solid wood and resistant to changes caused by extreme temperatures and humidity. Engineered flooring, at best, can only be sanded and refinished once or twice because its finish layer is very thin (from 1/16″ to 3/16″). Engineered-wood flooring (or other flooring materials, such as tile or vinyl) may be installed above or below grade. This often plays an important role.

Solid wood flooring is a traditional favorite. It usually is thicker than engineered flooring and is clearly cut from a single board of hardwood. Solid-wood flooring has a tendency to warp, twist, expand, and contract with changes in moisture and temperature. On the flip side, solid flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Bathrooms and kitchens are another story. Though moisture is present in both areas, you can protect the surface of a solid-wood floor with a sturdy, protective finish.


Because installing hardwood flooring is usually a major, expensive home improvement, it pays to ensure a quality, durable result. If you are going to install hardwood flooring yourself, it needs proper preparation. You can find a lot of helpful videos and reading materials about hot to install and what instruments you need.

New wood flooring should be laid on a clean, smooth, level, structurally sound base. Depending on the particular flooring, this base may be a previous floor covering, an existing wood floor in good condition, a new plywood subfloor, or even a moisture-proofed concrete slab.

By installing wood over an existing floor, you bypass the messy job of removing the old flooring, and you gain instant soundproofing and insulation from the old floor. A disadvantage to leaving old flooring in place is that you must correct any irregularities in it. Also, the new floor will raise the flooring level, making the transition to a hallway or an adjoining room awkward.


Whether or not you’re installing over old flooring, the first step in preparing floors for hardwood is to remove doors and base shoe molding. Number the molding pieces so you can easily replace them when you’re finished. Make sure that the use and conditions of the room won’t have a negative impact on the flooring during installation. Thus, too much foot traffic on a new floor or excessive temperature or humidity swings can diminish the quality of—and sometimes even ruin—wood flooring. Proper preparation techniques depend upon the type of flooring you’re installing and the conditions of the base that will be beneath it.


Most wood flooring goes on a typical raised, wood-framed subfloor that is surfaced with plywood or OSB (oriented-strand board) subflooring panels. The subfloor must be clean, dry, flat, structurally sound, squeak-free, and clear of any surface bumps or fasteners. Use a long, straight board and a carpenter’s level to check for any dips or rises. Sand down bumps and fill dips with leveling compound.



The conditions of your house must be ready for hardwood flooring before the material is delivered. In fact, wood flooring is typically one of the last installations during a remodel. To avoid physical damage to the surface, be sure it goes in after all construction and completed installation of any fixtures and appliances that will not sit on top of it. Heat and humidity can dramatically affect expansion and contraction of hardwood flooring.


Wood flooring—especially solid wood flooring—is very susceptible to moisture problems. Unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise, wood flooring must be allowed to adjust to the house’s normal humidity level before installation to prevent expansion and contraction that can spoil the final job. This means any packaging should be removed and the wood should be stacked for several days in the room where it will be installed. Do not store it in the garage or an exterior patio.


The instructions given here are generic for nailing solid-wood flooring to a plywood or OSB subfloor. Before beginning, read the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular flooring.


A power miter saw makes smooth and straight cuts.

Of course, you need special instruments to do that. To rip flooring, use a power saw that has a fence, such as a job saw or table saw. For crosscuts, equip a power circular saw with a carbide-tipped 40-tooth blade or, even better, use a power miter (“chop”) saw with the same type of blade. Cut the boards face down with a circular saw or face up with a job saw, table saw, or power miter saw. Be sure all end cuts are precisely square (at a 90-degree angle).

For making curved or irregular cuts, you can use a portable saber saw (jigsaw). The blade on this type of tool cuts on the upstroke, often splintering the top surface. So, if the cut will not be covered by molding, be sure to turn the flooring face down during cutting. If the cut won’t be visible, it’s usually easier to work with the flooring face up.

Once all the boards are in, it is just a matter of cleaning everything up. Then it is on to installing the baseboard, quarter round, and window molding. So if you’re about to undertake a hardwood floor installation, just ready yourself for some heavy box hauling, tedious hand-nailing, and exhilarating mallet smacking. So, do you still think of installing hardwood flooring yourself?