Replace vs Refinish Your Hardwood Floors: Which One You Should Do?

Your hardwood flooring isn’t immortal. It suffers from wear and tear over time. While we know that one of the major reasons why you choose hardwood flooring is because it can last for generations, it has an expiration date too. After about 20 years or so, you will notice gradual changes in its appearance and functionality. Unsightly stain inconsistencies, extensive scratches, water damage, and more—issues that your hardwood floor is already struggling with, and you are faced to make a big decision: to replace or refinish it. But how do you really know if it’s time to say goodbye to your old flooring? What factors do you need to consider in identifying whether your hardwood floor is a candidate for replacing or refinishing? As a Maryland floor refinishing contractor, we have listed down possible reasons to decide whether to sand and refinish your hardwood flooring or replace it altogether.  


If your hardwood flooring has extensive and permanent water damage: Replace. 

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Water is the biggest enemy of hardwood, which is exactly why engineered wood is created. Hardwood flooring is very susceptible to moisture or water damage. When exposed to water for a long time, you will notice that your hardwood floor is cupping, and boards are separating. Extensive water damage will darken some areas of your wood floor as well. Sanding and refinishing won’t resolve extensive and permanent water damage, even if you ask a Maryland floor refinishing contractor. Thus, a replacement is required. If you intend to replace your flooring and stick to the look of solid hardwood, you may want to consider installing an engineered wood instead. 


If your hardwood flooring has surface issues: Refinish. 

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Many surface issues such as stains, finish inconsistencies, and scratches can be remedied by sanding and refinishing. If your hardwood floor is thick enough, refinishing can get rid of any scratches and nicks on the floor. A whole-floor hardwood refinishing is not even necessary in this case. As a Maryland floor refinishing contractor, we suggest to sand down or refinish only the affected areas. Just make sure that you sand and refinish the hardwood floor uniformly. 


If your hardwood flooring has severe structural damage: Replace. 

Structural damages need to be addressed immediately as it may lead to safety issues in the long run. Permanent structural damages occur due to moisture damage, fire, or poor maintenance. Typically, it requires ripping up the hardwood floor to inspect the frame of the floor and evaluate the severity of the damage. If you notice any underfoot damages, then refinishing the hardwood floor won’t suffice. Also, if more than 30% of the floorboards have already sustained structural damage such as cracking, splitting, bubbling, or termite infestation, you should probably look at replacing your hardwood floors rather than refinishing. 


If your hardwood flooring has been refinished many times: Replace. 

Though you can sand and refinish hardwood floors a few times, it doesn’t mean endless. If your wood floor is too old and has been refinished at least five times, you will notice the “tongue” where the floorboards fit together. You will begin to see the groves in the nails and planks because of too much sanding and refinishing. Also, sanding down or refinishing hardwood floors more frequently tends to become too thin and fragile for another refinishing. As a Maryland floor refinishing contractor, we think that replacing the hardwood floor is a more justifiable solution to this situation. 


If you want to change the species of wood: Replace.

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While most homes in the US have oak hardwood flooring, some homeowners prefer an exotic or unique look. Options like clear maple, modern-looking bamboo, or Brazilian cherry are great alternatives for wood flooring. So, if you no longer want the species of wood of your existing floor, replacement makes more sense to you. However, if the only reason why you plan to replace wood species is because of color, then you should rather stain the hardwood floor with a different shade or tone. Colors of hardwood floors can be corrected through staining; hence, replacement is no longer needed for this specific situation. 


If your hardwood flooring moves around a lot: Replace. 

Refinishing a hardwood floor that wiggles or moves around a lot will not resolve the issue. In fact, it can simply make the situation worse. If you notice that your flooring is bouncy and does not seem sturdy, it’s time to get a replacement flooring. You may want to ask help from a Maryland floor refinishing contractor to provide you better options as well. 


If you want to change the direction and width of the hardwood floor: Replace. 

Some homeowners wish to have more stylish flooring, and getting wider planks is one the most common ways to do so. Typically, the standard home uses oak 2 ¼ inches strip. However, rooms look larger and more modern with wider planks—the reason why some homeowners plan to change the width of the wood planks for their flooring. Another option to make your rooms larger is to lay wood planks diagonally. Doing so can carry your eyes along the longest length of your room, making it more spacious. With this, replacing the hardwood floor is a more reasonable route. 


If you don’t like the current wood finish: Refinish.

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Hardwood floor finishes have varying levels of tones and glossiness. From a cool-toned finish to a light-colored one, you always have options to change the wood finish you like. If you simply want to get a more updated look at your hardwood flooring, refinishing is your best option. A fresh coat of wood finish could bring your wood flooring back to life.


If you want a shorter and less messy installation: Replace.

While refinishing a hardwood floor is less expensive than replacing an old one, the former is a bit messy and time-consuming. As a Maryland floor refinishing contractor, we understand that refinishing a hardwood floor is a little bit daunting for homeowners as they need to clean and prepare the room before the project starts. You need to get your furniture out and clear everything you can inside the room when you plan to refinish hardwood flooring. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, refinishing the hardwood floor may take 4 to 5 days. Often, you need to leave the house during a refinishing project or endure the odor of the wood finish. These create additional nightmares for some homeowners. However, if you choose replacement flooring, especially with prefinished hardwood, the process is even much faster and less messy. 


Making The Best Decision For Your Home

Your hardwood flooring is a vital structural feature in your home as it provides style, functionality, and stability in every room. Though we cited some issues earlier, the decision to whether to replace or refinish hardwood flooring is still up to you. Using this guide above, we hope that you gain confidence in making the right choice. However, if you feel uncertain about which one you should do first, let us help you today. Carpet Ready is not just a Maryland floor refinishing contractor, but we also specialize in replacement flooring, carpet installation, and more. Schedule a consultation today!