Hardwood Floors: Replacing vs Refinishing


When your wood floors start to show their age, you’ll likely be faced with a decision: should you replace them or refinish them? Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages, as well as different cost implications. Let’s delve into some details.

Additional Considerations for Hardwood Floor Decisions

  • The Environmental Factor: Hardwood floor refinishing is a lot less wasteful than getting new ones. When you think about how much material is used and thrown away, refinishing can save up to 90%.
  • Longevity and Durability: Refinishing adds approximately 10–15 years to your floors, while replacing offers up to 25 years or more, depending on the wood type and quality.
  • Historical and Aesthetic Value: Maintaining original flooring could add unique value, especially in historic homes, which could be attractive to certain buyers.
  • Future Maintenance Needs: Budgeting for ongoing maintenance, which may be approximately $1-3 per square foot annually for refinishing and potentially less for new, hardier wood types.
  • Health and Safety Considerations: Ensure to allocate budget for potential accommodation needs during refinishing due to fumes and dust, which might last 4–7 days.
  • Guarantee and Warranty Aspects: New hardwood installations usually come with warranties, ranging from 10 to 30 years, while refinishing work might come with up to a 1-year workmanship guarantee.
  • Neighbour Considerations: Bear in mind potential disruptions, and possibly consider a small appreciation gift (around $20-$50) for neighbours to express your gratitude for their patience.
  • Impact on Resale Value: Investing in flooring can yield a 70-80% ROI upon selling, especially with popular wood choices like oak or hickory.

Replacing Hardwood Floors: Pros, Cons & Costs

Choosing what to do with old hardwood floors is straightforward: you can either put in new ones or fix up the current ones. Both choices have good points and challenges related to looks, time, and cost. Let’s understand the pros and cons to help you decide on the best path.


  • New Look and Feel: You get to decide a completely new look, feel, and type of wood.
  • Addressing Issues: If there are underlying structural issues or significant damage, replacing allows you to solve these problems.
  • Increase Home Value: Fresh, new floors can add to the value of your home.


  • Cost: Replacing hardwood floors is generally more expensive than refinishing them.
  • Time and Inconvenience: The process can be disruptive to your daily life as it takes time and means all furniture needs to be moved.
  • Waste: It might contribute to waste if the old wood isn’t repurposed or recycled.

Costs: Solid hardwood flooring can cost between $6 and $12 per square foot. Engineered hardwood flooring is typically a bit less, ranging from $3 to $10 per square foot.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors: Pros, Cons & Costs


  • Cost-Effective: Refinishing is usually much less expensive than replacing.
  • Maintaining Character: If your old floors have a particular character or patina, refinishing allows you to retain it.
  • Less Waste: It is a more environmentally friendly option as you’re utilizing the existing material.


  • Limited Restoration: If the floor has been previously refinished several times, or if there is significant damage, refinishing might not be viable.
  • Messy Process: It can generate a lot of dust (though dustless options are available) and fumes from the finishing products.
  • Time: While it can be quicker than replacing, it still requires numerous days to complete and cure.

Costs: The cost can range from $3 to $5 per square foot, depending on the level of refinishing required and your geographical location.

Making the Choice

Consider the Following:

  • Condition of the Existing Floors: If the damage is surface-level (scratches, stains), refinishing might be the best choice. For structural issues or extensive damage, replacement might be necessary.
  • Budget: If budget is a constraint, refinishing is typically the more wallet-friendly option.
  • Desired Look: If you’re looking for a completely new look or a different type of wood, replacement is the way to go.

When to Opt for Professional Assistance

Considering the prospect of replacing or refinishing hardwood floors brings forth a pivotal decision: embracing a DIY journey or enlisting professional aid. Each option harbours its own set of nuances, which can significantly impact the process and outcome of your wood floor project.

Choosing Professional Assistance:

  • Quality Assurance: Professionals bring expertise, ensuring a smooth, flawless finish and optimal longevity.
  • Warranty Security: Often, professional work comes with a guarantee, safeguarding your investment.
  • Advanced Equipment: Access to industrial tools can yield superior, more durable results.
  • Safety and Cleanliness: Effective management of potential fumes and dust safeguards your living environment.


In the end, your choice between refinishing and replacing hardwood floors will come down to the specific circumstances of your existing floors, your budget, and your desired outcome. Both options can rejuvenate the look of your home; it’s just a matter of determining which one aligns best with your needs and preferences. Always consider seeking advice from a professional floor specialist to evaluate your floors and provide a tailored suggestion.

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