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How Often to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

How Often Should You Refinish Hardwood Floors? – 2023 Guide

Hardwood floors are famous for their timeless beauty and durability. However, even these stalwarts of home decor require periodic attention to keep them looking their best. A common question among homeowners is, “How often to refinish hardwood floors?“.

Determining the ideal refinishing schedule can be challenging, with factors ranging from the type of wood used to daily wear and tear affecting their luster.

At, we understand the nuances of hardwood care and are here to guide you through the intricacies of maintaining your floor’s charm and longevity. Whether new to hardwood or seeking to refresh your knowledge, we’ve got you covered.

What are hardwood floors?

Regarding flooring, hardwood floors offer homeowners a timeless, resilient, and aesthetically pleasing option that is also environmentally friendly.

What are hardwood floors?

These floors contain the lumber of deciduous trees and come in various wood types, each boasting its unique grain, color, and texture.

While hardwood can last for decades, its finish may wear off over time, necessitating periodic refinishing.

Why refinish hardwood floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors isn’t just about maintaining their beauty. It’s also about extending their lifespan.

Refinishing involves stripping off the top layer of wood that may have suffered wear and tear, revealing a new layer underneath. This process revives the floor’s appearance and protects against future damage.

How Often to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

How often you need to refinish your hardwood floors depends on the extent of daily wear and tear they undergo.

On average, homeowners refinish their hardwood floors every 7 to 10 years. However, this general guideline might only apply to some situations.

Floors in homes with larger families, pets, or high foot traffic may need refinishing sooner, perhaps every 3 to 5 years. On the other hand, floors in lesser-used rooms or homes with minimal foot traffic require attention every decade or so.

Factors such as the type of wood, the quality of the initial finish, and maintenance practices can also influence this timeline.

For instance, harder woods like oak or maple tend to withstand the pressures of daily life better than their softer counterparts like pine or fir.

Similarly, floors cleaned regularly with products specifically designed for hardwood and protected from excessive sunlight or moisture can often go longer between refinishing sessions.

Constantly monitor the state of your floors to look out for signs of wear and to determine the best refinishing schedule for your home’s unique needs.

Factors affecting the frequency of refinishing

Several key factors influence the longevity of your hardwood floor’s finish. Understanding these can help homeowners tailor their maintenance routines and make informed decisions about refinishing.

Type of wood

When choosing wood for hardwood flooring, seeing the wide variety of premium quality woods with various features is overwhelming.

Some popular woods to use in hardwood floors are Oak, Hickory, and maple. These woods have different longevity times, so the durability of your hardwood floor will depend on the wood you choose.

Type of wood

Moreover, these woods can withstand regular use without getting dings, scratches, or other damages.

On the contrary, the softer wood types like pine or cedar are more susceptible to dings, marks, and scratches. If you have a more delicate wood type, consider refinishing more frequently.

Traffic level

Just like roads, the level of foot traffic your floor endures plays a pivotal role in its wear and tear.

Common areas like the living room, kitchen, or hallway, which see a lot of activity, are bound to show signs of wear quicker than a guest room or a study.

Homes bustling with kids playing or pets scampering around might observe quicker degradation. It’s essential to consider these dynamics when planning a refinishing schedule.

Exposure to sunlight

Sunlight, especially its ultraviolet (UV) component, can be a silent ager of hardwood floors. Over time, UV rays can bleach the natural colors of wood, leading to an unsightly faded look.

Those gorgeous sunlit rooms might seem lovely, but if your hardwood floor lies directly under large windows or skylights, it will fade faster, necessitating sooner refinishing.

Finish type

The finish acts as the frontline defense for your floor. Different finishes offer varying degrees of protection.

While oil-based finishes can give the wood a rich, deep hue, they might wear out or yellow over time quicker than polyurethanes.

On the other hand, water-based polyurethanes, which dry faster and are less odorous, offer better resistance to wear and yellowing.

Maintenance practices

The care you extend to your hardwood floor can significantly influence its longevity.

Floors that receive regular cleaning with products explicitly designed for hardwood are less likely to accumulate dirt and grime, which can irritate the finish over time.

Proper maintenance, like timely cleaning up spills, also prevents moisture damage, ensuring the finish lasts longer.

Indications that it’s time to refinish your hardwood floors

Being aware of your floor’s state is vital. No matter how well you maintain it, every hardwood floor will eventually show signs of age and wear. Recognizing these signs can help in timely refinishing, extending your floor’s life.


Over time, with regular use, it’s inevitable for hardwood floors to accumulate scratches.


While minor, surface-level scratches might not immediately warrant a complete refinish, deeper, more prominent gouges can mar the beauty of your floor and expose the wood to potential moisture damage.


Accidents happen. Whether it’s from moving heavy furniture or dropping a hefty object, dents are a clear sign of damage. If they’re localized, you might opt for spot treatments. But if they’re widespread, refinishing might be in order.


Consistency in color is a hallmark of a well-maintained hardwood floor. If you begin noticing areas where the paint seems lighter or uneven, it’s likely because of UV exposure or chemical fading. It can indicate that it’s time to bring back the uniform sheen through refinishing.

Peeling finish

A peeling or flaking finish looks unattractive and invites moisture, dirt, and other damaging elements. Once the protective layer is compromised, the underlying wood becomes vulnerable.

Cupping or warping

A clear sign of moisture damage, cupping (where the edges of the plank rise), or warping (a distortion in the wood’s shape) requires immediate attention. Although refinishing can improve the appearance, tackling the underlying moisture problem is essential to avoid further harm.

How to refinish hardwood floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors requires both artistic and scientific skills. This technique can effectively restore your floors, giving them a renewed appearance. Let’s dive deeper into the steps:


One of the most crucial steps in the refinishing process is sanding. Over time, hardwood floors accumulate scratches, dents, and a worn-out finish.

Sanding removes this old finish and any superficial damage, revealing the fresh wood beneath. Different sandpaper grits are used, from coarse to fine, depending on the floor’s condition.

It’s essential to sand the floor evenly and smoothly, moving with the grain of the wood to avoid any cross-grain scratches.

Also, sanding ensures that height differences between floorboards are even out, resulting in a smooth surface.


Once you complete the sanding and the dust has been thoroughly cleaned up, priming becomes the next step.

Using a wood primer, ensure you adequately seal the wood’s pores, creating an even base for the final finish.

Priming aids in better adhesion of the finishing product and enhances the wood’s natural color and grain, leading to a more vibrant and lustrous result.


In the finishing stage, you see the transformation come to life. Depending on personal preference and the specific requirements of the wood type, homeowners can choose between oil-based finishes, which give a rich, deep color, or water-based finishes, known for their quick drying times and less pungent odor. This final coat acts as a shield, protecting the wood from daily wear and tear, moisture, and other potential damages.

Cost of refinishing hardwood floors

When considering the refinishing of hardwood floors, budgeting is vital. While the initial costs might seem high, seeing this as an investment in your home’s aesthetics and longevity is essential.

The total cost of refinishing can vary based on several factors. The area that needs refinishing plays a significant role; the larger the floor area, the higher the overall cost.

Additionally, the wood type can influence pricing. Given their unique care requirements, rare or exotic hardwoods may command a premium for refinishing.

The choice of finish also affects the price. Specialty finishes or those that offer additional benefits like UV protection or enhanced durability might be priced higher than standard finishes.

While, on average, homeowners spend between $3 to $8 per square foot, it’s also good to factor in potential extra costs. It could include any repairs that need quick attention, furniture removal and replacement, or even temporary accommodation if the refinishing process makes home parts unusable for a few days.

However, when you step back and see your hardwood floor’s rejuvenated gleam and extended lifespan, every penny spent feels justified. It’s about maintaining an aesthetic appeal and preserving a piece of your home’s character and charm.


In-home maintenance, few tasks can transform a space as dramatically as refinishing hardwood floors. Understanding how often to refinish hardwood floors is pivotal in ensuring they remain a centerpiece of your home’s aesthetic.

From the type of wood, daily traffic levels, and sun exposure, to the kind of finish and maintenance practices, numerous factors determine the lifespan of your floor’s finish.

Recognizing the signs of wear, like scratches, dents, and fading, helps in timely intervention.

While the cost of refinishing might seem substantial, viewing it as an investment in your home’s value and longevity makes it worthwhile.

With the insights in this article, you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions, ensuring your hardwood floors continue to captivate and charm for years to come.

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