When it comes to improving the floors in your home, you essentially have two options – refinishing your existing floors or doing a full floor installation with new materials. Both floor refinishing and installation have their pros and cons in terms of budget, time investment, longevity, and overall scope of the project. Knowing the key differences is important when deciding which route to take for your floors.

Floor Refinishing If your current hardwood, laminate, or other floors are generally in good structural condition but showing surface wear and tear or looking outdated, refinishing may be the better choice. The process of refinishing involves sanding down the existing floor to remove scratches, stains and old layers of finish to reveal the fresh wood underneath. After proper sanding and prep, new stains, finishes, and protective top coats are applied to restore and enhance the beauty of the floors.

Some key words and phrases related to the refinishing process include:

  • Sanding – This removes old finish layers and provides a smooth surface for refinishing
  • Screening – A finer grit sanding done between coats of finish
  • Staining – Optional color tinting and enhancement
  • Sealing – Applying a basic sealant or primer before final finish
  • Finishing – The top coats that provide sheen and protective wear layer
  • Curing – The drying and hardening process for stains and finishes before recoating

The great thing about refinishing hardwood or laminate floors is that it can breathe new life into them at a lower cost compared to a full replacement. Refinishing costs approximately $3-7 per square foot on average depending on the size of the space and the condition of floors going into the job. It also takes less time – usually 1 to 3 days from start to finish. This causes less disruption to a home compared to a full installation. However, floors can only be sanded down effectively a limited number of times before they become too thin and require replacement.

Floor Installation If your existing floors are badly damaged or you want to change to a different flooring material like tile, vinyl, or upgraded hardwood entirely, doing a full floor removal and installation is likely the better route. This involves tearing out old flooring, assessing and prepping the subfloor surface underneath, and then installing the new floor material you choose.

Some terminology related to the installation process includes:

  • Subfloor prep – Fixing cracks, leveling, or overlaying with new material
  • Underlayment – Thin layered material laid prior to the flooring for smoothness and sound absorption
  • Floating floor – Floor that clicks together without adhesion to the subfloor
  • Glue down installation – Flooring adhered directly to the subfloor
  • Nail down installation – Flooring secured by nails through tongue into the subfloor

Compared to refinishing, installation has higher material and labor costs upfront. Complete floor installation averages $6-15 per square foot depending on the flooring type used. The process also takes longer – often 5 days to 2 weeks from start to finish depending on size. However, it allows you to switch flooring looks entirely with tile, vinyl, laminate options and more. New flooring when properly installed can then last decades without the need for refinishing.

Factors to Consider When weighing floor refinishing vs replacement, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Budget – Refinishing $3-7 per sq.ft. vs Installation at $6-15 on average
  • Existing Floor Condition – Can it withstand sanding or does it need replacement?
  • Timeline – Refinishing faster at 1-3 days vs Install at 5 to 14 days
  • Desired Flooring Type – Does it need change to tile/vinyl/different wood?
  • Long Term Plans – How long will you stay in the home?

Getting an assessment from flooring professionals can be invaluable when making this decision for your floors. They can advise on viability for refinishing and make recommendations on new flooring possibilities if warranted. Things like measuring moisture in existing slabs, assessing for defects in a subfloor, and factoring in other repairs needed in a space are important. Considering the pros, cons, costs, and what matters most in your flooring project will lead to the right refinishing or installation decision


A1 Refinish Floors Paintings

A1 Refinish Floors Paintings

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top