How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors? 4 Signs That It’s Time

Wood floors are a beautiful addition to any home. They add warmth and character, and they provide an excellent place for barefoot living. How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors? The answer may surprise you. Wood flooring is usually installed with a protective finish that will last anywhere from 4-10 years. However, the protective finish can wear down over time, which leaves the wood vulnerable to damage. To protect your investment in these hardwood floors, it’s important to know when it’s time to refinish them again.

It is generally accepted that you should refinish your wood floors every seven to ten years to keep them looking their best. However, there are a few signs that may indicate it is time to refinish sooner than later. These include if your floors are old and worn out, if they are damaged beyond repair, or if you live in a high-traffic area.

A well-made hardwood floor can last a lifetime, even across several generations. However, wood eventually begins to show signs of wear and aging as time passes. Scratches pile up, uneven color develops (especially in areas where the floors are exposed to sunlight), and the floor appears dull. You may refresh your hardwood floors by sanding, staining, or another method to restore their appearance. If you notice any of these signs on your wood floors, it’s time for a refinishing project.

How Often Should You Refinish Hardwood Floors?

The frequency with which you sand and refinish hardwood flooring is governed by the thickness and age of the boards. Before deciding, check the manufacturer’s recommendations. During the whole life span, a solid hardwood plank at least 3/4 inches thick will probably require refacing four to six times. It’s generally thought that you should replace your floors every 50 to 100 years.

However, in some cases, the best way to protect your investment is by refinishing before it’s necessary. If you notice any of these signs on your flooring, don’t wait another moment- book an appointment with a professional wood floor refinisher today.

Note: The door paneling is a great example of this. Hardwood flooring is only 1/4 inches thick in some areas. In this case, a refinish will remove all indications of the floor.

In case you’re not sure how thick your hardwood is, consider taking a look at the flooring while removing an air vent from the floor to get a “side view.” Alternatively, if you don’t want to remove too much of the room’s trim, you might try loosening one or more base corner caps. Typically, this method enables you to see between the boards for a rough idea of their thickness. You can also try pulling up one corner to get an accurate measurement.

When your hardwood flooring is more than 50 years old, it’s likely time for refinishing if even only half of its finish has worn off and you notice any or all of these signs: If there is a difference in the height of your flooring, it’s time to refinish.

Sometimes the boards will warp over time. This can be due to a variety of factors, including humidity and moisture damage from flooding or leaky pipes. If you notice slight warping when looking at seams between planks, this is probably not enough reason alone for refinishing. However, if the floor is severely uneven or has gaps between boards that are more than a quarter of an inch, it’s time for refinishing.

How Do You Know It’s Time to Sand and Refinish your Hardwood Floors? What are the signs?

Hardwood floors are lovely, but they do require attention and care. They must be sanded and refinished regularly. But, when should you re-sand them? Here are the top five indicators that it’s time to refinish and restore your hardwood flooring. Some of these signals are obvious; others are more understated.

1. Excessive Scratches

How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors?

If you have a lot of scratches, especially if they’ve worn through the stain, it’s time to resurface your floors. When you have a darker stain, the scratches are much more apparent. And don’t be concerned about a few small nicks; that is typical. When you have a large number of unsightly scrapes (especially if they are on the lighter finish), it’s time to refinish.

A lot of scratches can be addressed by staining over them, but you must first sand and remove the stain with steel wool or very fine grit sandpaper (400-600). You may need to repeat this process several times before your floor is bare enough that you see the wood grain. After you remove the stain, if there are still deep scratches on your floor, it is time to sand and refaces before applying a new stain.

Scratches usually occur because the furniture was dragged across the floors or another similar cause that can be easily prevented by moving items with care. If this happens again, refinishing will protect the floor and remove the damage. If you notice that your hardwood floors are excessively scratched, then it’s time to consider refinishing them.

2. Water damage (or moisture damage)

How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors?

When there is water damage, you may notice boards separating and/or cupping as well as some dark regions. Water damage can be caused by a variety of factors, including a flood, a broken water heater, pet damage, ice damming, leaking air conditioners, overflowing toilet, moisture/flooding/mold in the basement or crawl space, a leaky pipe in the wall or ceiling and more.

Also, be aware of any mold growth on your floors! This is especially common if moisture has been trapped under the flooring for an extended period. If you notice dark spots that smell musty or mildew when you remove baseboards from around the room, this is a sign of mold growth. You don’t want to ignore this!

If you only cupped hardwood flooring, it’s time to sand. It’s typically possible to sand out the cupping of the floors (as seen in this picture). If you have significant damage (e.g., blackboards, significant separation, boards popping up), you’ll need to replace the floors or a portion of them.

3. Discoloration

How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors?

When your wood floors start to look sun-bleached, it isn’t necessarily a major issue, but it can give your flooring an uneven, unattractive appearance, and you may want to refinish them for uniformity. If the color of the floorboards becomes gray and dull, it’s an indication that moisture damage has occurred over time, requiring refinishing.

If you notice that your beautiful hardwood floors are discolored, it’s possible that the flooring has faded over time due to water damage or sun exposure. If this is the case, then it’s time for refinishing. The solution? Sand down and apply a new stain to restore uniformity.

4. Areas of Dullness

How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors?

The look of a hardwood floor is as much a function of its finish, whether glossy, satin, matte or brushed. You may begin to notice the finish on your wood floor growing duller in comparison to other parts of the room over time. This variation in appearance might make your floors seem old and neglected. In most situations, refinishing is required to fix this issue.

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At What Cost Should Hardwood Floor Refinishing Be Done?

  • 2 inches is the standard thickness of engineered hardwood flooring. It’s okay to refinish them up to 4-6 times with this depth.
  • If you’re content with your flooring and just want to refinish it to give it a new lease of life, hardwood flooring may be refinished only once every seven or ten years.
  • The cost of refinishing a floor is typically from $3 to $4 per square foot for a professional. If you have an area between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet, the total cost will be approximately $6,000 to $8,000.
  • When you decide to go DIY, the price difference can be as little as a fraction of the original cost.

When your floorboards are solid, measure their entire thickness with a ruler. If the boards are less than 9/16 inches thick, there is a high danger of failure. If the engineered flooring boards have a veneer that is less than 3/32 inches thick, refinishing it is dangerous.

Should You Refinish Or Replace a Wood Floor?

If you’re debating whether to refinish your floors or replace them entirely, you’ll probably wonder if a full renovation is required.

Refinishing your floor can extend its life, but at some point, it will require repairs. While replacing hardwood floors is more expensive than refinishing them, there are certain advantages to doing so.

A floor replacement entails the installation of entirely new wood that will outlast you, as well as the option to select from a variety of species and colors. Wood tiling or other flooring options may be used in place of wood.

Reasons to Refinish a Floor

The following are a few reasons you might want to refinish your floors:

  • Your floor is no longer the original finish.
  • You have decided on a different look for your home interior or exterior and need new flooring options.
  • There’s water damage, indentations, scratches, cracks, or separations on your floor.
  • You have pets or children who are damaging your floors with their activity level.
  • If you can’t afford a full replacement.
  • Your floor is in good condition, but the color has faded over time and needs to be restored using modern stain technology.

Reasons to Replace a Floor

The following are a few reasons you might want to replace your floor:

  • Your floors have become severely damaged due to water damage, pest infestation, or other types of wear and tear.
  • You’ve decided on an entirely new look for your home interior or exterior which requires completely different flooring options.
  • You live in a high-traffic area and want to reduce the risk of costly damages.
  • Your floors are old, worn out, or damaged beyond repair.

How To Refinish Wood Floors: A Guide

  1. Sand the floor using a circular sander and 120-grit sandpaper. Sand around your house periodically in an obtuse pattern. Use light pressure at first, gradually building up to normal strength for maximum results.
  2. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean up dust and residue from sanding. Vacuum twice over furniture and fixtures to minimize the amount of dust that is spread across your floor.
  3. Allow the wood floors to dry for at least 24 hours before refinishing them. Ensure that there are no wet spots or stains as this will affect the outcome and quality of your work effort.
  4. Use a paint roller with high nap coverings to coat each area of the floor with one coat of stain. Use a brush or paint pad to do corners and edges that are hard to reach with a roller.
  5. Mix you’re first can of varnish thoroughly before beginning work on your project, using an electric drill for the best results. Apply two coats over each area of stained wood flooring evenly, allowing adequate drying time between coats.
  6. When the second coat is dry, sand over each area of wood flooring with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any residue from staining and varnishing that might have been missed during application. Vacuum up dust before allowing your project to cure for at least 24 hours after you are done using an electric sander or vacuum.
  7. After the project has cured, use a clean cloth that is lint-free to apply one thin coat of varnish over each area. Allow your flooring to dry for at least 24 hours before putting furniture back on it or walking across it with shoes.

How Often Should You Refinish Wood Floors? [Precautions]

Every time you refinish your floors, you’re removing a layer of wood. Solid hardwood floors can endure this operation many times. Engineered wood flooring can only tolerate it once or twice at the most. However, if your floors are refinished too often, they may eventually lose their appeal and no longer appear as nice. As a result, you’ll be replacing them sooner than later.

There are also some precautions to take during refinishing:

Wear a dust mask and gloves while sanding and applying chemicals, as it can irritate your skin, eyes, throat, and lungs if inhaled or touched. If this happens immediately wash the areas with water using soap and pat dry. To prevent your flooring from becoming damaged, protect your furniture and fixtures by placing them in the middle of each room where you are working on refinishing.


Q: How often should you refinish wood floors?

A: It depends on a few factors, including the type of flooring, the amount of traffic in the home, and your personal preference. Generally speaking, however, most experts recommend refinishing every three to five years.

Q: What are some signs that It’s time to refinish your wood floors?

A: There are a few key indicators that it might be time to refinish your wood floors. These include visible wear and tear, fading or discoloration, and changes in the texture of the flooring. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s time to refinish, It’s always best to consult with a professional flooring contractor who can assess the condition of your floors and recommend the best course of action.


It is widely accepted that you need to refinish your wood floors every seven to ten years. If you follow the advice in this article, your wood floors will be looking great for years to come. You’ll avoid expensive replacement costs and keep up with trends that last for decades. This is a smart investment.

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Reference: WikiHow