Should You Refinish or Replace Your Hardwood Floors?

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Hardwood floors are particularly durable for a couple of reasons. For one, they can take a lot of abuse before they begin to show their age. Also, they are resilient to damage. Lastly, they can be repaired several times. That’s especially true if you have solid plank hardwood. For example, carpet will be worn down over a few years, and there’s not much you can do to restore the original look of our carpet. In contrast, hardwood will look great for several years. Then, when you need to restore its original look, you can refinish it. However, you could also choose to replace it. So, which should you do? Should you refinish your old hardwood floor or should you replace it?

What Do You Hope to Achieve?

You should first ask yourself what you hope to achieve. If you want your hardwood floor to look as great as it did on the day it was installed, you should refinish it. You can refinish it yourself or hire a professional to restore your hardwood to that original beauty. If you want to change the color of the wood and/or the type of finish on the wood, refinishing it will work as well. You can sand it down, stain it a new color, and then apply a new coat of finish. However, if you want to change the style of planks, the species of wood, or the direction of the planks, you’ll need to replace it.

There’s also something of an intermediate step in which you can pull up the floor, reorient it and then lay it back down. That’s basically a refinish with significantly more work.

Price Difference: Replace or Refinish

After you’ve decided what you want to achieve, you should consider the price. In almost every case, it will cost you less to refinish the floor. You can likely refinish the floor yourself, but you might need to rent some tools if you want it to go quickly. A new floor might require a professional installer.

The notable exception is a free or recycled floor; if you have a source for free or inexpensive hardwood flooring, it could cost you less to replace it.

Time Involved

Refinishing can actually take more time than replacing. To replace the floor, you need to pull out the old floor and install the new floor. With prefinished hardwood, that might take no more than a couple of afternoons. Refinishing requires sanding, staining, and finishing. You have to clean up after each step, and allow each treatment to dry fully before moving on. That could take upwards of a week.

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