Can’t decide whether a patch-up paint job or full-on replacement is called for? We’ve got you covered.
The Replacements: If you’re thinking about refinishing, check first to see how much wood you have to work with. You’ll need more than an 1/8-inch of wood above the tongue-and-groove to refinish your floors. If that’s not the case, or if you have considerable damage or imperfections, you may want to replace your floors instead. The good news is that there’s a vast selection of woods available now, and choices are thicker and more durable than ever. Laminates are a great, economical option as well, but note that they can’t be refinished later.
The Cover-Up: If refinishing your hardwood floors is the option for you, you’re in luck because it’s more affordable than replacing altogether. There are still a few other choices to make, though. Matte, gloss or semi-gloss? Should you paint, white wash or stain? In the past, painting was a top choice for refinishing your floors because it was affordable and fast. But it’s fallen out of favour because it can be so easily damaged, says Megan Zarzecki, hardwood-flooring specialist with All Type Hardwood Flooring Inc. in Brampton, Ontario. Painted floors are quick to chip and scratch, and imperfections can be pronounced, resulting in a high-maintenance floor. Not only that, but oil-based paints take a long time to dry and are high in VOCs, while water-based ones don’t last long.
Whiteout: White washing was often used on walls and panelling, as well as wood floors, to give a bright feeling to a room. However, in recent years, the demand for this refinishing has dwindled as manufacturers now offer prefinished white wood to replace old floors altogether.
Get the Look: Staining is the most popular refinishing option today, with a great variety of options that are meant to last. While natural stains are more affordable than darker stains (because they’re easier to apply), Zarzecki says darker colours such as ebony, chocolate brown, espresso and royal mahogany are the most popular.
Clean-Up Act: Refinishing or replacing your hardwood floors is only part of the equation of great-looking floors. Be sure to take proper care of your floors to maintain the look. For hardwood floors, Zarzecki recommends cleaning with simple warm water, vinegar and a damp mop. Other products may have oil or wax in them that can dull and reduce the lifespan of your floors.