When To Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Scratches, boards turning gray or discolored, water damage, and when selling or buying a home can mean it's a good time redo or refinish wood floors.

When your hardwood floors look rough, it might be time to refinish

How do you know it’s time to refinish your hardwood floors? Are there any telltale signs that the time has come to refinish your floor, when basic cleaning won't cut it? What are the best options to complete this project? Here we will reveal how to spot your hardwood floors require refinishing.

The best floors do at times require some serious work. Hardwood floors stand up well for a long time and will eventually need to be refinished. In some instances, hardwood needs to be replaced entirely. Before you take action, dig a little deeper and find out which process best works for you and your home.

Signs it’s time to refinish your hardwood floors:


If you start seeing a lot of scratches, it means the time has come for refinishing. When scratches have worn through the stain, this is a clear sign it’s time to refinish them. These scratches will be obvious when you have a darker stain. A few minor scratches are nothing to worry about.

Unsightly scratches are what you should be worried about.

Large gouges and places where wood has been split mean it’s time to replace the piece of wood. Most of the scratches do come out with simple sand and refinish.

Boards turning gray

When your hardwood starts to turn gray, it’s time to refinish, do so before more damage is done. If polyurethane wears out, your hardwood will start absorbing water and oxidizing. This is why hardwood turns gray in color and lack of repair will see the wood turn darker and darker. When wood turns darker, it’s time to replace the whole floor, as sanding alone won’t solve this problem.

Moisture or water damage

When there is moisture damage, separation will occur or cupping of boards. Dark areas will also start to appear. In case you spot cupping of the floors, sanding out is preferred as a remedy. Replacing a section of your hardwood is preferred when blackboards start appearing.

Fading due to dullness or the sun

If you start seeing major damage from sun or harmful cleaning products on the floor, it’s time to refinish the floors. Most of the time, colors will look discolored and unhealthy. Sanding and refinishing take care of this problem, as it helps by removing the top layer. Once this is done, your next step is to apply a new stain.

Refinishing hardwood can also be a personal choice and is less costly than what most customers think. Some of the best times to refinish your hardwood floor include the following:

Before moving in

This is the best time to refinish hardwood as there’s no furniture or disruption. It’s less expensive to do refinishing as the room is empty — no cost for moving furniture.

When family members are away

This involves refinishing your floors and it involves steps leading to bedrooms. You have to work on these floors and can’t walk on them for five days. This ensures you don’t have to face the smell involved in refinishing.

When selling a home

If you want to sell your home, this is the best time to refinish before actually selling it. If the hardwood floor is in bad shape, it will reflect on the price of the house. Doing refinishing before the house is listed is considered a smart investment. Most people have refinished their houses before selling it and have received a huge return on it.

Before refinishing, you need to make sure there’s 1/32 inch of wood on your floor’s surface. If this is not possible, you will have to replace the whole floor. Once your floor passes the thickness test, hire professionals if possible for refinishing. Professionals help minimize the risk involved in refinishing floors.

It’s also advisable to get high-traffic areas redone such as the living room which takes a beating. The bedroom can be left out as they tend to retain their looks, there's no high traffic. Professionals can put a new polyurethane finish and is known to reduce refinishing expenses.

This process is known as screening and does not remove any wood and can be done countless times. Taking this root is cost efficient and can be $7 per square foot, re-staining is not counted yet. Screening is preferred as it costs only about half of the full refinishing price.

A screen and recoat are more of prevention than a maintenance strategy. It will last only two to three years.

Call a professional if you are unable to screen and recoat hardwood by yourself. Professionals will be of great assistance.

Resources — TheflooringgirlPatch