Refinish or Replace Hardwoods

You love having hardwoods, but they’ve seen better days. Now the question is: should you have them refinished or replaced? In most cases, it depends on the amount of deterioration your floors have experienced. Are you primarily dealing with shallow scratches or do you have significant dents or even water damage?

To start, it’s helpful to understand what refinishing a hardwood floor looks like. Refinishing involves an intense sanding process to get the flooring down to new wood. Any gaps or holes are then filled prior to staining. Replacing hardwood is exactly as it sounds. You are removing the old, damaged hardwood and replacing it with a new version. As a general rule, it’s far cheaper to refinish your hardwoods than replace them; however, we recommend the following rules of thumb:

Replace your hardwoods if:

  • Your flooring is really old and has been sanded down to the nail heads
  • Humidity has caused major gaps between boards
  • Your floor has deep scratches, gauges or dents that no amount of sanding will get out and involves a large portion of the floor, not just a few boards.
  • The wood is soft and bouncy indicating significant damage, questionable structural integrity, or sub-floor problems
  • You really dislike the species of wood you have and want to replace it for a different type, for instance, oak for cherry wood
  • You want to change the width of the wood or the direction of the wood
  • Matching existing flooring is unlikely and you desire a unified look
  • There is significant water damage or pet odor deposits on the floor

Refinish your hardwoods if:

  • Your floor has shallow scratches that can be buffed out
  • Your floor has been waxed, refinishing will be needed to start anew
  • You want to change the color of your stain
  • You’re adding some new flooring and retaining some existing. Plan to refinish the existing flooring so that you are starting with net-new wood all around and then stain new and old all at the same time, creating one cohesive space
  • Squeaky boards are driving you crazy

Our go-to hardwood floor trade partner, John Carlson with Heartland Floors agrees. “We love creating the warmth and beauty that hardwoods bring.  New or old, you can have beautiful hardwood floors,” says John.

For regular hardwood floor maintenance we recommend dust mopping with Original Endust as needed and occasional cleaning with Woodwise. Both products are user friendly and can be found in most grocery stores and on Please follow the directions found on the packaging for proper usage.  If you’re doing additional cleaning, you could be causing more harm than good. Have more hardwood questions? Call us, we’re happy to help!

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