Is it time to replace your hardwood floors?

Posted by on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 at 2:25pm.


Hardwood floors are a big selling feature.  Buyers who see the words “hardwood throughout” or “hardwood under carpeting” in the listing description can suddenly be very interested.

Hardwood floors can last a long, long time. But without good care and in the face of water damage or extreme wear, there is a limit to how long they last.  Kids and pets are notoriously hard on hardwood. Sometimes, replacement of that beautiful hardwood is inevitable.

There are multiple types of engineered woods and laminates on the market these days.  Some are super durable and will stand up to wear and tear much better than the real thing.  One of the benefits of the real thing is that it can be refinished or sanded and stained a completely different colour.  When that’s not possible, it’s often more practical to start with a brand-new floor.

How do you know your hardwood isn’t salvageable?

Next to fire, the biggest killer of good hardwood floors is water.  Moisture will make wood floors of all types buckle or bend.   This isn’t just spilling a glass of water or drink on a hardwood floor. This can happen when windows or patio doors are left open for rain to get in – not once or twice but many times over a decade or more.  Standing water due to floods, water heater or burst pipes can wreck floors. You might be able to replace individual planks if the damage is limited to a specific area.  But with the time and trouble it takes to rehabilitate a damaged floor, you might as well start over.

Multiple sandings of hardwood floors

A freshly sanded hardwood floor is a thing of beauty.  Returning the wood to it’s former glory can add new life to your home.  Sanding removes minor imperfections and scratches, but how many times in the life of your floor can you take a sander to it?

With each swipe of a drum sander, your hardwood floor gets a little bit thinner.  So in reality, you can probably only sand a floor between three and five times.  If you have purchased an older home with floors that need to be redone, you won’t really know how many times they’ve been done until you start.  You’ll know it’s the final straw when you start hitting nails or see them exposed as you sand.

Old floors aren’t always good floors

There’s no past-due date but there is a lifespan to older floors. They’re dull and colourless after a while.  Sunlight can do a number on them.  Grime or harsh cleaners can cause damage. You might actually see them start to rot.  You’ll notice they’re a little softer underfoot – perhaps a bit squishy or bouncy.

It’s sad when you have marvelous maple, oak or old-timey fir floors from a by-gone era and they’re simply done-

If you know your hardwood has plenty of years left and the wood doesn’t have deep scratches or gouges, you might be able to just screen it.  This isn’t a full sanding job.  A contractor will just lightly sand the floor to remove the existing finish and can reseal it with several coats of polyurethane giving your floor new life.  This won’t affect the stain underneath and you won’t lose a layer of wood.  If you want a fresh colour, you’ll have to do a full sanding. This is a great opportunity modernize your hardwood by choosing a contemporary colour.  Grey, white and chocolate brown are trendy floor colours now in Canada.  Visit any builder’s show homes in new communities around Calgary to get an idea of what these stains look like.

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