Refinish or Replace Your Wood Floors
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Refinish or Replace Your Wood Floors? How to Decide What’s Best for Your House

House Wood floors can add warmth and character to any room. But over time, normal wear and tear can cause them to lose their luster. At some point, you’ll need to refinish or replace your wood floors to keep them looking their best. How do you know which option is right for your home and situation? Here are some key factors to consider when deciding whether to refinish or replace house wood floors.

Assess the Condition of Your Current Floors

Thoroughly examine your existing house wood floors, checking for deep scratches, gouges, stains, warped or cupped boards, and other damage. According to flooring experts, if less than 25% of your flooring shows signs of serious damage, refinishing is probably the better option. But if more than 25% is damaged, replacement may be wiser.

Use the quarter test — place a quarter upside down on the floor and see if it rocks back and forth. If it rocks, the floor is uneven and may need replacement. Also check for dark or black spots which indicate moisture damage. In cases where the damage is less severe, refinish hardwood floors to restore their beauty and extend their life.

Consider the Type of Wood

Some wood floors, like pine, lend themselves better to refinishing because the wood is soft and can be sanded down many times. Pine floors can typically be refinished up to 5 times before needing replacement. Exotic hardwoods like Brazilian cherry have a maximum number of times they can be refinished before the wood becomes dangerously thin — usually only 2–3 times.

Evaluate what type of wood your floors are made of, how thick the planks are, and the refinishing history. To be brand new, be perfectly even, have no scratches and look flawless you can choose wood floor refinishing Colorado springs. For thin planks of hardwood that have been refinished multiple times already, replacement may be the safer option. Oak, another common material, is in the middle in terms of hardness and finish.

Factor in the Age of Your Floors

According to the National Wood Flooring Association, wood floors have an average lifespan of 100 years or more. But older floors may need replacement simply due to their age, especially if previous renovations covered up potential problems.

Moisture damage, small cracks between boards, cupping, and other issues can be hidden under layers of refinishing. Very old floors may need replacement to address these types of accumulating issues before they threaten your home’s foundation.

Consider Moisture Problems and Foundation Issues

If your wood floors are warping, cupping, or showing other signs of moisture damage, the source of the issue needs to be identified and fixed before refinishing or replacement. Excessive moisture from leaks, flooding, or humidity above 55% can damage house wood floors over time.

Refinishing won’t address underlying moisture problems. Replacement provides an opportunity to assess and correct moisture issues before installing new floors. Addressing foundation and structural issues is also easier with replacement.

Evaluate the Cost Difference

On average, refinishing hardwood floors costs $3-5 per square foot while replacement runs $6-15 per square foot depending on the type of wood. But refinishing can only be done a limited number of times before replacement is needed.

Compare the upfront cost difference with the expected lifespan of a refinished floor versus new flooring. While replacement may cost more initially, new floors could potentially last decades longer than refinished floors, which have a shorter remaining lifespan.

Assess Your Tolerance for Dust and Disruption

Refinishing creates a lot of dust and requires clearing out the room. The fumes are also toxic, so you’ll need to make arrangements to stay elsewhere for a few days. Replacement creates more construction debris and often takes longer — typically 5–7 days versus 1–3 days for refinishing.

If you opt for replacement, existing baseboards and even doors may need trimming to accommodate the height difference — an extra hassle. Consider which option you can better tolerate in terms of mess and disruption to your home life.

Decide on Desired Changes in Color or Style

Do you want to change the color or style of your floors? Refinishing lets you alter the stain but will still show the nicks, dents and seams of the existing flooring. Replacement allows you to start fresh with different materials, like wider planks or engineered wood.

If you want to change things up significantly, replacement gives you more options. Refinishing limits you to staining the same floor plan with the existing imperfections. With replacement, you can install new floors in a checkerboard or herringbone pattern for a whole new look.


When deciding between refinishing and replacing house wood floors, carefully examine their current condition, moisture issues, expected lifespan, and your preferences in terms of disruption, cost and style. For minor damage, refinishing often makes sense. But for more extensive problems or when you want a flooring update, replacement may be the better investment. Analyze all the factors unique to your home and situation to make the right choice. With proper care, your refinished or new house wood floors can stay beautiful for years to come.

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