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To refinish your floors or tear them out and start from scratch – that is the question! This year we decided to redo all of the flooring in our home – both on our main floor and upper level. We went from a combination of existing hardwood and carpet to entirely new hardwood. Though the planning process we explored the option of refinishing our existing hardwood flooring and I want to share the information that we discovered with you in hopes that it helps you in your flooring renovation decisions.

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Why You Should Consider Refinishing Your Flooring

One of the main reasons to consider refinishing existing hardwood flooring is cost. It can be significantly less expensive to sand and re-stain/refinish existing flooring than tearing everything out and starting from scratch. You have to consider the labour costs of demo and hauling away old materials and then all the labour and material cost of the new flooring. here is an estimate of what this could cost, from HomeAdvisor (note that every project is different and costs may vary based on region):

It is important to consider whether or not your floors require any repair (minor or extensive), if they’re just scratched and faded or if there is water damage, gauges, etc. that might need to be repaired. Do your floors squeak? Is there damage to the sub flooring? These are all things to consider when deciding to refinish versus renovating.

Refinishing Your Flooring: A Blank Canvas

Sanding and refinishing does not mean that you have to refinish everything in the same stain colour that it was before. This is an opportunity to go darker or lighter, more matte or even shinier than before. The options are endless. Think of your wood floors as a blank canvas!

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If your existing floors are in good shape and can be sanded, I highly recommend this option. Refinishing hardwood flooring in character homes is something I’m especially a fan of. When they say that “they don’t build things like they used to”, it can be true, New floors will never give you the character that gorgeous original vintage hardwood will.

Not sure what you should do? I suggest reaching out to a company like Alberta Hardwood Flooring (that’s who we worked with!) to get an estimate on what something like this would take and what your options for refinishing are. Because expert companies like Alberta Hardwood Flooring offer both refinishing and new installation options, they can provide you all the information you need to make the best decision for your project.

What To Expect When Refinishing Your Floors

No matter which choice you make between new flooring or refinishing your existing floors, the project will be messy! You’re going to want to remove as much furniture, artwork, decor out of the space as possible and drape whatever is going to be left in the space before the sanding begins.

Once the sanding process has been completed, this is your opportunity to test out stain options. I recommend testing the stain options in the space because you’ll be able to see how they compliment the other colours/features in you home, but you’ll also be able to see how the wood takes the stain.

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It’s important to know that different species of wood accept stain colours differently. If your floors are pine, they may pull more yellow with certain stain choices. Oak or maple might absorb the finishes differently, too. It’s not as simple as choosing a stain colour at the store and knowing it will be perfect. For a project of this scale, it’s always best to do a test area first.

Because of all the sawdust from sanding, you may want to consider having your furnace and ducts cleaned following this project. There is no way to know how much dust a project like this will bring up because the level of sanding required is different for every project.

Why We Chose Not To Refinish Our Existing Hardwood Floors & Install New Product

When we decided to embark on new floors for our home, we debated refinishing the existing hardwood on our main floor but opted to tear it out and start new. This was for a few different reasons that I will explain here:

Our flooring renovation wasn’t just about lightening/brightening the existing hardwood flooring on the main level of our home, but about changing the flooring in our entire home. We planned to carry the hardwood flooring up the stairs and throughout the second level of our home, which at that point was carpeted.

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When we built our home over 12 years ago we chose a hardwood flooring that was popular at the time, but no longer popular/available; narrow plank, but not so narrow that it is vintage and easy to match. Unfortunately what this meant was that although the floors could be refinished on the main floor, whatever we chose to do on the stairs and upper level would not match in terms of plank size.

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Since we were going to be replacing the existing flooring in over 50% of our home, and we wanted to ensure that it would all match. Also, you can see here that the existing carpeted stairs run right up to the hardwood, so there would be an obvious difference. We went from semi-gloss maple hardwood flooring in a walnut stain to a wide-plank engineered white oak flooring that is much more matte. The lighter floors not only brightened up our main floor, but better matched and contrasted our ebony-stained red oak kitchen cabinetry.

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Removing the carpet upstairs and replacing it with hardwood flooring did require a bit of sanding as there was some remaining glue in some places following the carpet removal and our installers at Alberta Hardwood Flooring wanted to ensure the subfloor was even before installing new product.

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I am honestly SO happy that we decided to go with new flooring throughout our home. Everything is lighter, brighter and more modern. I feel like changing the flooring changed our entire home. It’s like living in a brand new house! I am in love with our home again!

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