Are your floors looking dry and weathered? Gray in the soft grain of the wood, showing gray grain patterns in the high traffic areas? You might be wondering if you are a candidate for hardwood refinishing. Lets go over ways to tell:
1. How thick is my wear layer? If you floor is solid and older than 30 years and nailed down to a raised foundation, there is a good chance there is enough wear layer for another sanding.
Here on the west coast we have ?? x 2? flooring built into most of our pre-1970?s homes. A ?? floor has about 3 refinishings in it. It is contingent on the machinery and skill of the technician, but usually a floor that was uncovered from carpet has never been refinished. And often, if I see one sanding done about twenty years ago, there is still another to be had.
If you have an engineered floor that is less than 30 years old there is more information to collect. Twenty years ago most floors were sold with some amount of wear layer- 3mm thickness on top of the engineered ply layers. That can also be refinished three times! These floors were often 3? and 5? wide. Here in San Diego they were mostly Oak and Maple flooring. If you have extra planks in the garage you can assess from the side of the board. If you do not have access to another plank you can look to a floor vent, pull the grate, and look at the side of the construction to assess if you have a wear layer or not.
General rule: Wider boards are thicker wear layers. It is science for stability.
2. What will my floor look like?
Now we assess for stain. We need to determine the original species of the wood on your floor. If it is hickory, Oak, or maple and it has more color than blond, there is probably a stain on it. When you sand the floor this stain will come off and you can keep the natural color and seal with urethane,, or you can stain the floor again before you seal. The home applied stains tend to settle into the soft grain and appear more ?stripey? than the factory finish, but it is an option. If the species is an acacia or a walnut then the natural color is going to be darker just naturally. Red floors like brazilian cherry and mahogany often are just coated clear to keep that natural rich color.
3. Assess for texture.
In 2000 we started distressing wood to have waves- we called this ?hand scraping?. Some wear layers were thicker and you can sand all the way down to the lowest common denominator and sand out the waves and bevels. Often the wear layer is not thick enough to get to the bottom of the bevel to get the color out, so you have to scrape the bevels (expensive) or leave the color and stain the floor again to make it blend. Deep bevels are customary with hand scraped floors.
In the last ten years we have been wire brushing floors. That is digging wires through the soft grain of woods- primarily white oak- and leaving it flat on top, but excentuating the grain. At this point it can be ?white washed? to make the grain of the wood appearance pop, or stained all one color. Again, if the wear layer is big enough all of this can be sanded out to have a completely fresh floor again. These are the most common floors sold on the market today in 2022, so these floors will be up for refinishing for years to come.
If you are looking for information on your floor, look for an invoice. Even if it doesn't say the dimensions, if you speak to an educated flooring professional they will either remember the product or be able to look it up. Often even if it is discontinued- as long as you have the manufacturer name.
These services cost between $4-$12sf depending on the finish, the texture, staining, and your regional area. Even at $10 sf it is less expensive to refinish a hardwood floor than to replace it. YOu can float a fake floor on top of it for $10sf, but if you are going to demo hardwood it cost $4sf plus the supply and install of the new. Replacing it should cost about double of refinishing it.
Best of luck with your home projects! For more flooring information from this Girl with a Flooring Store- check out my youTube!