Refinishing vs. Replacing Hardwood Floors
The age old question, is it better to fix what I have or buy new? Hardwood floors present a unique situation in that sometimes the old is substantially better than anything you could buy new…and sometimes new is better. We have broken down the primary criteria used by our customers to decide if replacing is better than refinishing for them.
Price – Price is the first obvious variable to consider. 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.
Aesthetics – 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.
Time – Refinishing can actually take much more time than fully replacing a wood floor. 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, edgers, buffers, scrapers, brushes, base coat sealers, topcoat 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.
Quality – 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. 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.
Age – The age of your floor also plays a 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.