When And Why Should Hardwood Floors Be Refinished?

When and why should hardwood floors be refinished? When you should refinish your hardwoods is mostly up to your personal taste. For the most part this is a matter of personal taste, but a wood floor can...

For the most part this is a matter of personal taste, but a wood floor can be damaged to the point that it requires immediate attention if it is to be saved. Some floors can be restored by waxing and buffing alone, and do not need sanding and refinishing.


Beki Willis has been repairing, restoring and remodeling homes in the greater Austin area since 1989. She says, "Wood floors should be refinished when they don't look attractive to you anymore. People have different ideas of what is attractive. Some people like things to look more primitive and they like the scars and wear patterns. It's like a scrapbook of the house. Other people like to have a really flat, smooth, glossy surface."




Dents and dings are a natural part of the aging process, and add character to the floor. Some people even choose to have their floors distressed when they are installed before they are finished for the first time, rather than wait for the floor to develop a worn look over time. This rustic look can compliment a home and makes it easier to maintain, welcoming the effects that life and time naturally have on any floor.

Others choose wood floors for the perfect, mirror-like finish that can be achieved. While this look can be hard to maintain, it adds elegance and beauty to a room which is hard to duplicate with other types of flooring.

Refinishing can simply be part of the redecorating process, too. Beki says, "House design is like fashion that changes with time, and different eras call for different looks. If you want to change the color, you can sand it down and lighten it." Depending on the natural color and darkness of the wood, stains can be used to change your wood floor to almost any desired color. For those who want an extreme change, wood floors can even be painted.

Most often refinishing is considered when high traffic areas have lost their sheen and color to the point that the floor no longer has a balanced look. Rather than taking on an aged, rustic appearance, certain areas just look worn out. If most of the floor is in good shape refinishing can be delayed by strategically placed rugs, and sometimes even furniture, hiding problem areas.

When hardwood floors are rough and damaged to the point that they are quickly deteriorating, personal taste is no longer the issue. It is time to refinish them. Floors that are no longer protected from even momentary spills or floors that are splintering and pose a safety hazard should be refinished right away. This too, can be delayed with carpeting and rugs, but the floor will continue to deteriorate beyond repair, and will eventually have to be replaced if left unsealed.

There is a simple way to test the finish on a hardwood floor to determine if it needs refinishing right away. Pour a small amount of water on the most highly worn area of the floor. If the water soaks in immediately and creates a dark spot, the floor should be refinished right away before it becomes permanently damaged. It is in danger of staining from even the slightest spill. If the water soaks in slowly, the floor should be refinished as soon as possible, but it is not an emergency, yet. If the water beads up then the floor is properly sealed and refinishing is a matter of personal preference, but not necessary to preserve the floor.

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