Is it better to refinish hardwood floors or replace them with new hardwood?

refinish my hardwood or replace itWell this depends on a number of factors including the condition/age of your hardwood, how much you like your current hardwood and what your budget looks like.


In general, it will almost ALWAYS be less expensive to refinish your hardwood floors. If you replace them, you need to pay for additional wood as well as ripping up and hauling away existing hardwood. If portions of your hardwood are damaged (e.g. pet stains or minor water stains), you can replace these sections and when you refinish them and it will all look new. Even if you have this, it will still be less expensive then replacing the whole floor.


So, if it’s less expensive to refinish hardwood floors, why would you consider new floors? Here are some reasons and benefits to getting new hardwood floors.


If your floors are REALLY OLD and have been refinished many times, it may be time for a new floor. I’m not talking about oak floors that have been dinged and scratched up…I mean if your floors have been down for over 100 yrs and refinished at least 5 times. If you can see the “tongue” where the boards fit together, it’s probably time for a new floor. Or, if your floors are rather bouncy and/or don’t seem very sturdy, it’s time for a new floor. This happens more often with pine floors as pine floors are softer and used a long time ago.

dark hardwood flooring Westchester NYIf you want to change the species of wood, you may consider replacing the hardwood. The majority of homes in the US have oak. Some people love the look and graining of oak; other customers prefer a more unique look – such as a brilliant Brazilian cherry or a clear maple or a modern looking bamboo. If this is the type of look you are going for, changing woods may make sense for you. But, please understand that you can stain your current floors a different color than they are now. So, don’t just make a change because you don’t like the color since that is easily changeable.

If you want to change the width of the wood or the direction of the hardwood, the only way to do this is to get a new floor. The standard in home is oak 2 ¼” strip. Now, it’s more stylish and more common to get wider planks such as 3 ¼” or 4”or 5” planks. These look more modern and importantly make the room look larger. Another design trick to make the rooms look larger is to lay the planks on a diagonal – that way, it carries your eye along the longest length of the room. Or, you can even get fancy and add borders or do a herringbone pattern.

If you have parquet hardwood floors, you may want to change them to regular hardwood planks. Parquet is rather out of style and it makes the room look smaller given the small squares. Changing to the long strips will make the room look nicer and larger.

Red oak flooring cherry stain westchester NYIf you want less mess and shorter installation, replacing the floors will usually take less time than refinishing them. Refinishing hardwood floors is messy and time consuming. It’s especially challenging if you are already living in the home and have furniture everywhere. Refinishing you hardwood floors can easily take 4-5 days and during that time you can not have furniture on them nor walk on them. For some homes, this creates logistical nightmares as they can’t stay in the home nor would they want to given the smell and the mess. Alternatively, if you replace the floors with prefinished hardwood, it’s a much faster process, less messy and you can still live in the home fairly easily. I have many customers that have done this simply because they want to avoid the mess created from refinishing the hardwood floors.

Like anything, whether you refinish your hardwood floors or replace them depends on your personal circumstances. If you are about to move into a new home, refinishing your hardwood floors is much easier vs. if you already live there. Clearly the cost to refinish the floors Is much less expensive than replacing them (For perspective, to replace them may cost 3-5 times as much).


The Flooring Girl 914-937-2950


You may find these hardwood flooring articles helpful:


Should I refinish my hardwood flooring or replace it?


My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties.We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at Let us "bring the store to your door."If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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8 Response Comments

  • Lauren  July 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Debbie,

    My boyfriend and I recently bought a new house that requires many updates, including floors. The house was built in 1960 and has beautiful original hardwood floors that were covered in carpet. The day we moved in (scratch that: the HOUR we moved in), we pulled up the carpet and had ambitious plans to refinish the floors with a more modern stain. After multiple attempts with rented drum sanders and 12×18 sanders, the floors were just OK. We tried using our own belt sander and palm sander to even out hard to sand areas, particularly the edges, but the end-result was not ideal. We tried our hand at staining anyways because we were fed up with staining (not the greatest idea!). Our floors are unevenly taking the stain and are not up to our standards. Now our question is: do we hire someone to professionally refinish the floors (quotes we have obtained range from $4-5 per square foot) OR replace the floors entirely. Do you have any advice??

    Many thanks!

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Lauren. Thanks for stopping by. I’m not sure if the full comment came through on this, but congrats on your new house. The comment seems to end at “The house was built…” so my apologies if there is a question in there for me. Feel free to leave another comment, if you still have a question.

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Hi Lauren. Okay, now I can see the rest of the comment.

      First, most people are unable to successfully refinish the floors themselves. It takes a lot of experience to refinish properly. Most people can’t get it smooth/even and also don’t realize that you need to sand them 3 times before putting the stain on. It’s even harder to do it right if they are pine or maple floors (and if they are, they require conditioner before stain is applied). Also, once the floors have been sanded unevenly by a non-professonal, it’s even harder to correct due to the waves usually created by the non-professional.

      My advice is to bring in a professional to make sure the floors can be refinished (i.e. if there is still enough room/if you didn’t permanently damage the wood), and if so, have them refinish them rather than replace them – that will be much less expensive. I don’t know where you live and the going rates, but in our area, it’s prob. the price is prob. $1-2 lower…but that may be par for your area. Call in 2-3 people to see. I would check Angie’s List ( for some good local people in your area.

  • Nashville SEO  January 31, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Yes, it seems that hardwood floors are what buyers are looking for, so refinishing the wood makes a lot of sense.


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