Is it Cheaper to Refinish Hardwood Floors or Replace with Laminate?

Over time, your hardwood floors will experience a lot of wear and tear, and eventually it will be time to refinish them. People often want to avoid this process because it is a lot of work. You have to empty the room, sand, stain, and seal the floors, and then give them time to dry before you move your belongings back in.

It is almost always less expensive to refinish your floors than it is to replace them. Laminate flooring may be less expensive, but you still have to account for the cost of pulling out the old floor and hauling it away. However, you have to decide whether you want to keep your floors or replace them with something that is easier to maintain.

Factors to Consider When You Are Deciding Whether to Refinish or Replace Hardwood Floors

The first thing you need to do when you are making this decision is look at different factors that could push you in one direction or the other. People often consider the following:

Refinish Hardwood Floors

1. Cost

The cost is one of the first things that people look at. No matter what material you are considering using to replace the hardwood floor, it is almost always less expensive to refinish your floors. If you plan to replace them, you will have the cost of the new material and the installation, as well as the cost of removing the old floor and disposing of it.

You can reduce some of the cost by installing the new floor yourself, and you can remove the old floor and cart it away. However, you need to make sure that you know what you are doing and you will need a truck to haul away the old materials.

2. Time

The next factor to consider is the time it takes. If you refinish your hardwood floors, it will take some time. It is a very precise process, and it can be difficult if you are living in the home. You need to clear the room of any furniture, and make sure that it is well ventilated. You need to plan on taking somewhere between three or four days up to a few weeks to do the job.

You also need a lot of different tools to refinish your floors. You will need sanders and sandpaper, edgers, and buffers to sand and prepare the floor. Then, you need stain, rollers, and brushes, as well as polyurethane, caulk, and tape to finish it. It does take less time to install a new floor, but you will need the flooring, saws, a rubber hammer, a tapping block, underlayment, and tape.

3. Aesthetics

Hardwood floors are beautiful. However, the laminate products on the market today are made to resemble hardwood. Hardwood is solid wood, while laminate is a composite product that is made with high density fiberboard, a print layer treated with melamine, and a layer for wear that prevents scratches and scuffs. It doesn’t contain natural wood at all.

However, if you find your hardwood floors to be beautiful, then it might be worth refinishing them. When you undertake this project, you can restore your wood floors to their original condition and they will look amazing.

4. Condition

Another factor that people consider is the condition of their hardwood floors. You may not have the option of refinishing the floors if they have been there for decades and have been refinished multiple times in the past. Another issue might be if you have had water damage to the floors. If the boards are warped or damaged beyond repair, they will need to be replaced. You should look for cracks and other damage that you will not be able to refinish.

5. Age

You should also consider the age of your floors. If your floors have been in place for decades, you may not be able to refinish them. Look for cracks where the wood has expanded and shrunk too many times, or boards where you can’t finish them because it has been done too many times in the past.

How to Install Laminate Flooring

If you choose to replace your hardwood floors with laminate flooring, one of the ways to save money is by installing it yourself. It is a project that many homeowners do on their own. You will find that laminate flooring stands up better in climates that have a lot of humidity and moisture, and it does well in basements. You can also install it in bathrooms because it handles the moisture better. That said, it isn’t waterproof, so you still need to make sure that you clean up spills right away.

Laminate flooring is one of the easiest types of flooring to install. Often, it comes with a tongue and groove click locking system, which makes it easy for people to do it on their own. You simply lay the underlayment first, and then you start against the wall and go one row at a time, locking the next row into the one before. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and most homeowners can do it.

Can Laminate Flooring Be Refinished?

You cannot refinish laminate flooring. This type of flooring has to be replaced if it is damaged. However, it is made to be scratch and scuff resistant, and it holds up well to pets, children, furniture, and more.

Hardwood floors can be refinished, and they can be refinished more than once. You will need to refinish them eventually because they will show the wear and tear over time.

Does Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors Increase Your Home’s Value?

If you are selling your home, it is definitely worthwhile to refinish it. You only have a limited amount of time to make an impression on a buyer, and it is important that they see your home as a place where they would be comfortable living. In addition, buyers are looking for special features that make the home stand out. When you refinish your floors, buyers notice and feel better about the entire house because it shows that you take care of your home.

One of the most important improvements to do when you are listing your house for sale is the flooring. If you have damaged floors that are stained and need to be finished, it is a good place to expect a return on your investment.

Differences Between Laminate and Hardwood Flooring

The major difference between laminate and hardwood flooring is the materials used in each. Hardwood flooring is solid wood, and it is one piece all the way through. Laminate flooring is manufactured with a core layer of fiberboard and wood by-products. The top layer is protected by a wear layer that resists scratches and scuffs.

Both types of flooring are attractive at a glance. However, when you get close, you can see that laminate is not hardwood. If you are looking for high-quality wood flooring, hardwood flooring is the best.

Differences Between Laminate and Hardwood Flooring

When it comes to water and heat resistance, laminate flooring is the winner. Solid hardwood can suffer serious damage in rooms such as the kitchen or bathroom. You can’t install it on concrete because of the potential for moisture, and the floor can expand, swell, and shrink if it absorbs too much water. Laminate flooring is designed to be more resistant to water and stains. It also has enough heat resistance to be installed over radiant heating. If your primary concern is moisture and heat, you might want to choose laminate flooring.

Both laminate and hardwood floors are easy to clean. You just vacuum or sweep them, and you can use a damp mop to mop them. You don’t need to use harsh cleaning products, and they don’t require maintenance. Hardwood floors are more durable and can last a lifetime. You can refinish them when you need to. Laminate floors are made to last around 10 years, and they can’t be refinished.

Laminate floors are easier to install, and homeowners often do it themselves. Laminate is also less expensive than hardwood, so if you are operating on a budget, laminate might be the way to go. However, hardwood floors do add resale value to your home, while laminate floors won’t. They will look nice if you take care of them, but they are not considered an upgrade.

When your hardwood floors are showing wear and tear, you will want to refinish them. You will have to replace laminate. While it might be a lengthy task to refinish your floors, you need to decide which option works best for you. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so either is a viable option depending on your goals.

Final Thoughts

It is most likely to be less expensive to refinish your hardwood floors, but you need to consider more than the cost. Refinishing your floors will take a lot of time, whereas installing laminate flooring doesn’t take long at all. In fact, the laminate floors will come finished, so once you install them, they are ready to go. When you are deciding what to do, you should consider your budget, the room, and how much time you have for the project.