Hardwood Floor Replacement

Is it Cheaper to Refinish or Replace Hardwood Floors?

In Home Maintenance by Giovanni ValleLeave a Comment

Finding the right kind of flooring can be a challenge and a big expense in many cases. Though they may look great, like all things natural, your hardwood floors will eventually reach their end in terms of aesthetics and strength. When that happens, you’re faced with a serious question; do you refinish or replace?

It is cheaper to refinish than to replace hardwood floors. However, refinishing only provides monetary benefits in the short term, which will add up over time. Depending on the age and state of your floors, spending the extra money to replace them might be the better option in the long run.

This article will discuss your options for your hardwood flooring and the costs involved with each. We will also explore what goes into refinishing and replacing hardwood floors, what the best material is if you choose the latter, and whether you need a professional for refinishing or replacing your floors. Let’s get started!

Refinishing vs. Replacing Hardwood Floors

Refinishing your floors costs a lot less than replacing your floors altogether. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of $1,753 to refinish hardwood floors, while the typical range for replacing hardwood floors falls between $2,492 – $6,755.

At first glance, refinishing hardwood floors seems like a no-brainer. However, this can change if you factor in the overall condition of your floors. Remember, your floors need to have enough strength to sustain another refinishing.

If you have older hardwood floors, replacing them is a safer, cheaper choice for your home in the long run. Even if you spend a small fortune on replacing your floors, installing better flooring can return 106% of the cost. So, while this seems more expensive now, understand that you get back more than what you put in when you choose to replace your hardwood floors.

How To Decide if You Should Replace or Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

If your hardwood floors have become dull and drab, you may be tempted to simply sand and refinish, so that it can look brand new again. However, you have to consider its age and ability to sustain another refinishing.

On average, hardwood floors can be re-sanded and refinished ten times. But that also depends on how bad your floors are and how skilled your carpenter is. So, let’s assume that your floors have sustained maximum damage, i.e., years of heavy foot traffic, dings and drags from furniture, and a burn mark or two. If your carpenter turns out to be less than experienced and they do a shoddy job of it, it may decrease the overall age of your floors.

In this case, you’re better off replacing your floors altogether.

Choose the Right Time for the Job

With refinishing, you may think it requires less time, energy, and mess. In fact, it’s quite the opposite and refinishing sometimes takes weeks to complete, especially if you have large rooms and a busy family home.

Refinishing Can Put You Out for Weeks

Refinishing requires you to take all the furniture out of the room since you have to cover and seal all the nooks and crannies. After the floors are refinished, you can’t walk on or come near them until your carpenter gives the green light.

Since you probably can’t remove your furniture altogether, refinishing typically occurs one room at a time, which extends the deadline. Refinishing can be very disruptive for your daily life, so some people end up living with their relatives or even in motels until the project is done – adding more to the overall cost.

Replacing Can Be Done in a Few Days

Replacing your floors is less messy, less time-consuming, and less worrying. For example, if you choose to replace your floors with laminate, the boards come pre-finished. The floors are easier to install, and you can move the furniture back as soon as the work is done.

So, if you have a free week, or even a few days, that’s enough for a replacement. For larger homes, replacing the floors can typically take up to two weeks. But even then, you can move back as the rooms are done.

Decide on the Right Flooring Choice

Hardwood floors are a classic choice, but there are styles in hardwood flooring that come and go. For example, in current times, wider planks are all the rage. They have been around for many years, and with no signs of this trend slowing down, many homeowners opt to replace their floors with wider planks to match market expectations.

But they aren’t doing so by replacing old wood floors with new ones. Many have hopped on the bandwagon and are now switching to other flooring options that imitate wood patterns, like laminate. Given that it’s cheaper, low-maintenance, and durable, they’re benefiting from the best of both worlds – not something you get if you refinish your floors.

Determine the Age and Condition of Your Flooring

Sometimes, replacing is not always the right option. For example, if the floors aren’t as tarnished but only old, you can decide whether a refinish is enough. If you have never refinished your floors, chances are they will be fine for years to come. As mentioned above, they can typically be finished up to ten times. Bringing in a professional will help you make the right decision. They will most likely take your side in doing a refinish.

In the event of water damage, however, you may find that refinishing is not an option. When hardwood begins to cup or buckle, you will know that it has been subjected to a leak from somewhere. Though you can dry the flooring out using fans and dehumidifiers, you may not be able to get the wood to sit flat again. While it is possible to sand down the buckled edges, it would be best to replace the hardwood completely in case of a large leak.

Check for Pest Damage

If your home’s hardwood floors have been a part of the house for decades, a replacement is a wise choice. Hardwood floors that are that old can be subject to termite damage, and lack shine and glow. And while it may not look like that initially, you don’t want to leave it until it’s too late to find out.

Termites can enter a home through the smallest of cracks and will work their way into the hardwood floors and support beams throughout your house. Often hard to spot, termites will eat the heart of the wood, leaving it paper-like and weak to the touch. Colonies can be difficult to find and even harder to remove.

If you think you have termite damage, it is advised to replace the damaged wood, rather than fix the worse-off areas. This will help to ensure you have eradicated the colony, and that your floors and support beams are strong and sturdy.

What Is the Best Material for Replacing Hardwood Floors?

Options such as engineered vinyl and tiles have been popular, but laminate is your best choice. Aside from being water-resistant and scratch-resistant, what makes laminate the ideal flooring option is its easy installation, clean-up, and upkeep.

Unlike hardwood floors that have to be maintained thoroughly and be kept moisture-free, laminate doesn’t need that much attention. Weekly cleaning with a damp mop is usually enough to make your floors shine as they always did.

Laminate is also helpful if you have heavy foot traffic that tracks in mud, gravel, and sticky messes from outside. All it takes is a wipe with a wet cloth to remove even the harshest of stains.

The only downside here is that, unlike hardwood floors, laminate cannot be refinished. So, you won’t enjoy the same designs and quality for decades. But, given that laminate is cheaper than hardwood, that makes up for the durability since you can replace it with whichever trending flooring style you want.

Do You Need a Professional for Refinishing or Replacing the Floor?

Unless you are a seasoned DIY-er with numerous successful flooring projects under your belt, yes, you do. Refinishing or replacing are strenuous projects, requiring lots of time, experience, and manpower. You also need the proper tools, a budget, and a schedule, as well as professional guidance.

If you don’t have experience dealing with all the problems that come with flooring projects, you may end up making a bigger mess of things, costing you more than what your flooring replacement or refinishing may have cost. For your convenience and to save time, bring in a professional and ask questions along the way about maintaining your floors. You’ll want to keep those tips in mind for the future.

Closing Thoughts

At first glance, refinishing is the cheaper option. However, when you factor in the numerous refinishes needed down the line, it might be best to consider a replacement. If your floors are already past their best-by date, replacing them will be a safer, more affordable choice. It will not only add value to your home but replacing them will also assure you that your home floors will last even longer.


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