Refinishing Hardwood Floors vs. Resurfacing

The condition of your hardwood floor has major aesthetic impact. Use these tips to decide if resurfacing or refinishing hardwood floors is the solution that will help restore your Philadelphia home to its original beauty and splendor.

Refinishing hardwood floors can make any home look beautiful and brand new. Many older Philadelphia homes were originally made with aged hardwood floors that probably have seen better days. As the hardwood flooring gets older over the years, the color fades and changes. Unsightly dents and scratches may mar the surface of the once-gorgeous wood due to wear and tear.

If this is happening to your hardwood floor, you may wonder if the solution is to completely resurface your flooring or just refinish the wood. Learn more about both options so that you can make the right decision for your beautiful Philly home.

Refinishing and Resurfacing: What’s the Difference?

Resurfacing and refinishing are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings.

  • Refinishing involves sanding off the top layer of the floor and adding a fresh top coat over the existing wood. It’s a fairly simple do-it-yourself project — all you really need to get the job done is a basic drum sander for floors, stain, and lacquer to make the top of the floor look shiny and new again.
  • Resurfacing your floor involves more than just putting a layer of polish on top. It may require removing old floorboards, grinding down uneven boards, and reinforcing wood planks with new nails. This process is more time-consuming and expensive — it requires an investment in wood-grinding equipment, lumber, a nail gun, power saw, and other special tools.

So Should You Resurface or Refinish?

Your floor can be refinished if it has only superficial scuff marks and discoloration. If the planks are fairly even and smooth, all it needs is a light sanding and few new coats of stain and lacquer. Here are a few signs that your floor may need to be resurfaced:

  • The floor boards are noticeably warped or bent.
  • The planks are water-damaged or rotted.
  • When sanded, some or all of the planks still have an unattractive or uneven color.
  • Parts of the wooden planks are missing or cracked.
  • There are holes in some pieces of wood.
  • Nails are missing from the floorboards.

A floor that needs resurfacing will still look very uninviting if you just put a coat of stain and lacquer on top. Another alternative to resurfacing is to put hardwood laminate flooring on top of the existing wood planks, which is another do-it-yourself project.

The condition of your hardwood floor has a major impact on the overall look of your room. Use these tips to decide if resurfacing or refinishing hardwood floors is the solution that will help restore your Philadelphia home to its original beauty and splendor.


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  1. Serenity Bailey
    September 15, 2016

    Excellent post on refinishing hardwood floors. This is the right blog for anybody who wants to this.

  2. Ridley Fitzgerald
    January 25, 2017

    Thanks for the information here about resurfacing and refinishing wood floors. It makes sense that refinishing is needed when the floor is still in good condition. Our wood floors are still relatively new, so I don’t think we need to get them resurfaced yet.

  3. John Ferrell
    January 30, 2017

    I like that you said that to refinish a floor then you need to apply a fresh top coat. It might be a good idea to find a professional that can help you. My brother had to get his floor refinished because it was old and scratched. If might be a good idea to ask about professionals near you.

  4. James Goodwin
    May 9, 2017

    Thanks for pointing out the difference between refinishing and resurfacing. Although asking professionals about whether your floor needs a refinishing or resurfacing is a better idea before starting with the project. It helps to save time and money.

    • Victoria Keichinger
      May 10, 2017

      Thanks for the tip, James!

  5. Leviticus Bennett
    June 8, 2017

    It’s good to know that the floor can be refinished if there are only a few superficial scuff marks and discoloration. I’m going to be selling my home soon and think that refinishing my hardwood would help me get a better price. There are only a few scuffs, but they are very noticeable.

  6. alex
    July 2, 2017

    Some article!

    I think refinishing is the best if possible. In some cases where the damage is very deep, resurfacing is the only option.

  7. Spencer Montgomery
    October 17, 2017

    Thanks for sharing this post! I’ve been contemplating whether to refinish or resurface our hardwood floors, and it looks like refinishing it is the best option to choose. I like how you mentioned that it can make any home look beautiful and brand new which is something I’d like to achieve.


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