Hardwood floors add beauty and create a personal touch to the decorum of your home. It’s no surprise that they are famous for bringing warmth and character to any home, and the fact that they are so easy and inexpensive to modify makes them all the more special.
If maintained with care, hardwood floors can last a long time, sometimes a century. Taking care of your hardwood floor is therefore considered a long-term commitment and investment.
Over time, the protective coat may be worn away, and the floor may get damaged. If you pay close attention to your hardwood floors, it’s easy to see the signs to refinish or replace them at the right time.
We have listed some of the major signs and causes of damage below.
Water is the worst cause of damage to your hardwood floor. There’s no doubt about it. Along with dark areas, you will notice separation or cupping of the boards if your hardwood floor has sustained any water damage.
You can’t be too cautious. If you see any standing water on the floor or any leak, dry it out very quickly to keep the damage to a minimum. There are special types of equipment available, such as wet vacuums and drying fans, for any sort of water damage.
But of course, life happens, and you might not have noticed the water damage as soon as it occurred. In such situations, the first thing to do is to assess the damage and figure out how severe it is.
If you only find dark stains, you can heave a sigh of relief because the damage is not very severe. But if you find your boards buckling or warping, then it’s a lost cause, and you need to replace the boards as soon as possible. For stains, sanding and refinishing should correct the damage easily.
There’s a bigger chance for water damage to spread to other unharmed boards, so it’s crucial to find the source, or else you will be caught in a circle of fixing your damaged floor.
Visible Scratches and Gouges
Scratches are inevitable. But a large number of scratches visible all over your hardwood floor is not. This is an indication that your hardwood floor needs refinishing.
There are a few standards you need to keep in mind before deciding to refinish or replace your hardwood floor. The first benchmark is to measure how far apart and how deep the scratches are.
If the scratches are spread over a wide area (you can’t hide them by putting a rug over them), and they are deeper than the polyurethane stain that protects the hardwood from water, it’s time to refinish your floor.
You can also re-stain your floor over the scratches, but it might look obvious with the change of color in contrast to the rest of the floor color. Before re-staining, sand your floors so that the stain adheres to the underlying layer perfectly.
Gouges are more serious and deeper “scratches.” Nicks and gouges are notorious for creating water pathways surrounding the affected area. A deep gouge into a hardwood floor can also turn into a splinter and cause injury.
Gray Discoloration and Sun Damage
Wood turning gray is not a sign of aging but a sign of damage. The polyurethane protection wears off over time and lets water seep through easily. Even splatters of water from the kitchen could add to the damage.
Absorbed water oxidizes the wood and turns it gray. Even the slightest change to gray color in your hardwood floor would mean the floor needs to be sanded and refinished. Sun exposure also fades the color of the floor and creates a washed-out look.
You can reapply stain to the discolored and damaged areas, but this fix isn’t long-term. If you don’t refinish these floors, it will slowly turn black, which means the structure of the wood is damaged. If the structure is damaged, you need to immediately replace the wood.
If you are sure there’s no water damage, you can fix the discolored floorboards easily without the help of a professional. All you need is some essential tools, including a floor sander, floor nailer, plenty of sandpaper, and stains.
You will also need the same colored and same kind of hardwood from your first installation. You can usually use spare boards from the first installation unless there’s a stark difference between the old and the new boards.
We usually put more importance on sanders and the boards, but to make the whole process easier and less strenuous, think of replacing your hammer with a flooring nailer to do the work fast.
A Few Last Tips
Before you decide to refinish your floor, don’t forget to carry out a thickness test. The thickness measure on the surface should be 1/32-inch. Unless your floor’s surface pass the thickness test, you cannot refinish but will definitely need to replace the wood.
Always remember, if your floor has structural problems, it needs to be replaced, not refinished. Always hire professionals for replacements. Refinishing them will create a bigger and costlier mess.
It’s common for floors in more used rooms to get worn out quickly. You don’t have to redo your whole house in that case. The easiest thing to do is to first sand the floor. After that you can apply a topcoat of polyurethane layer to create a new look. This is called screening, and this process removes no wood.
You can cut costs by using stains creatively to give your inexpensive hardwood floor a classy twist. Chestnut, ebony, and mahogany stains are all the rage these days, or you can choose minimally stained colors that are sure to brighten up the look of any room!