If you have existing hardwood flooring that needs attention you may be wondering if you are better off to have it refinished or to just replace it. Refinishing and replacing both have their benefits and drawbacks and there is generally one option that is better for your flooring situation.
First, lets talk about what hardwood refinishing it. Refinishing your floor is when a layer is removed, sanded smooth and then a new finish coat is applied. This process can be done 4-5 times depending on the level of damage, the wear layer of the wood and additional factors. When the wood is sanded down to raw wood the imperfections like scratches, dents and marks are removed and the floor looks brand new again. Some stains cannot be removed so if your floor is badly stained this might be something to consider. Homeowners do have the option to add a stain to their flooring during this process to update the look.
When deciding whether to replace or refinish the biggest factor to consider is the condition of the existing floor. If it severely damaged, dented or marred it may not be a viable option for refinishing. If the floor is in good shape but has some common wear and tear it will likely be a great candidate for refinishing. Rot and water damage are two areas that are likely going to need to be replaced not refinished.
If you want to update the look of your home you will wanted to consider if a stain would do enough for you. If you want a totally different look like wider plank style, a different wood grain or other design idea you will need t consider replacing the floor.
A factor you made need to consider with the help of a flooring contractor is if the floor has been refinished previously and if it has enough wear layer remaining to be sanded again. Some older homes may have original flooring from the 1920s or even earlier, this is often the flooring that you find under carpet and cannot believe anyone covered it up. A professional can tell you if there is enough left to sand the floor again or if replacing is your only option.
Time may also be a factor you want to consider when deciding whether you would like to replace or refinish. If you have a lot of wood flooring that needs some attention and are considering a color change, some replacement boards for damaged areas and other steps to refinish the floor it could take a week while ripping the flooring out and installing new flooring may only take a few days. Some refinishing projects are faster than installs, it just depends on the circumstances. Also you will want to consider if you are reinstalling sand on site wood or if you would be installing engineered or prefinished.
Finally, budget is a big factor for most people. Refinishing generally is significantly cheaper than replacing. Some engineered products may be cheaper than a refinish but they likely would not boast the same quality and craftsmanship.