When are Hardwood Floors Beyond Repair?

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Hardwood flooring is a popular option for many homeowners for a good reason. It is easy to maintain and can last a lifetime. However, compared to other flooring materials such as laminate, stone, and tiles, hardwood is relatively soft and prone to discoloration, gouges, scratches, and other types of damage. But when does hardwood floors declared beyond repair?

Hardwood floors are beyond repair when they lose their structural stability, get infested by bugs or pests, start to squeak, and make weird noises, or are attacked by excessive molds. Another indication that your hardwood floor is beyond repair is when multiple refinishing is not bringing the results you want. I’ve explained each of these problems below.

With the proper care, hardwood flooring can last several decades, providing an attractive surface that is stylish and classic. Some of the maintenance practices you can use include vacuuming it weekly, damp-mopping it every two weeks with a hardwood floor cleaner, and polishing it every two to three months.

Can Hardwood Floors Be Refinished?

Hardwood floors can be refinished up to 10 times. How often you need to refinish your hardwood flooring in a given period depends on the amount of foot traffic it’s subjected to. Always remove the baseboards from the floor before you commence the refinish work.  If your floor surface has discoloration, stains, visible gouges, or deep scratches, I recommend you sand your floor before refinishing it.

When sanding your damaged hardwood flooring, start with 40-grit sandpaper to remove scratches and visible gouges, and then use high grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.

When Are Hardwood Floors Beyond Repair?

1. Damaged by water

You will be left with a water-damaged hardwood floor in the aftermath of flooding as a result of broken pipes, faulty appliances, ice dams, or any other accident that causes water spillage. If that water is allowed to saturate the floor, the hardwood planks are likely to cup. The unfinished underside of the hardwood boards absorbs moisture causing the edges of each board to move upwards and the center downwards.

The first thing you need to do immediately the floor is flooded is to stop the source of water. The second thing is to dry the floors with a mob, dehumidifier, blower, or fan.

2. Excessive mold

Another indication that your hardwood floor is beyond repair is excessive molds. Mold loves a damp environment. So, if you leave the water to accumulate between the sub-flooring and hardwood planks, the resultant moisture becomes a perfect environment for mold development. A musty odor coming from the floor be a sign that mold has accumulated on the hardwood planks. If there are a few molds on the floor, use an appropriate mold and mildew cleaner to deal with the problem. Once the molds are removed, use a scrub brush and a detergent to remove the stains.

3. Squeaks and creaks

Another common sign that tells you that your hardwood floor is beyond repair is when the floor starts to produce creaking or squeaking sounds. While those irritating sounds are common in old hardwood flooring, newly installed floors are not exempt.

Loose wooden floorboards due to regular expansion and contraction are often the cause of creaking or squeaking sounds. You may also experience those annoying noises if the plywood subfloor is not installed properly.

Although floor creaks and squeaks can be silenced by sprinkling powdered graphite or baking soda over the hardwood floorboard seems, this remedy brings temporary results. The noises will eventually return soon than expected.

4. Pest infestation

Hardwood flooring is not forgiven when it comes to pest infestation. Some wood pets including bugs, carpenter ants, powder post beetle, and termites may cause irreparable damage to the hardwood planks. Pest infection leaves the hardwood spotty and looking aged.

In some circumstances, the cost of removing the pets and repairing the damage left by wood pests is higher compared to the total amount you would spend on installing a new hardwood floor. You need to evaluate the damage to see if you will save some money through repair.

5. Structural instability

Massive amounts of structural damage caused by water damage, excessive mold accumulation, and pest infestation is a tell-tale sign that your hardwood flooring is beyond repair. You will notice structural instability when the hardwood boards and planks beneath your feet start to move or shake vigorously.

Usually, the cost of repairing structural damage is higher compared to the cost of installing new hardwood planks or boards. Besides the cost of repair, the repair work is labor-intensive. That’s why it’s advisable to start exploring new options once your hardwood floors start to show structural instability.

Is It Cheaper To Replace Or Refinish Hardwood Floors?

It’s cheaper to replace hardwood floors than replacing them. The average cost of refinishing a small-sized hardwood floor range from $500 to $1,800. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2 to $5 per square foot. The cost of installing new hardwood planks ranges between $6 and $12 per square foot.

If you choose the replacement option, you will need to cater for the cost of ripping up the planks and purchasing new hardwood planks. If sections of your hardwood floors are damaged beyond repair, you can replace those portions and refinish them afterward. It will be cheaper compared to replacing the entire floor.

Signs Your Hardwood Floor Needs To Be Refinished

Below are some of the signs and indications that your hardwood flooring needs a quick screen or a total refinishing:

1. Fading and discoloration

Hardwood floor discoloration and fading may be caused by carpets. The carpet blocks UV light from reaching the floor, leading to uneven discoloration or fading of wood, If your hardwood floors start to fade or change color, refinishing will return the floor into its original state.

2. Scratches and dents

Scratches or dents are another sign that your hardwood floor needs to be refinished. The main cause of dents and scratches on the hardwood floor is heavy traffic or heavy items being dragged or dropped across the floor. Those items damage the surface of the hardwood, and the damage will appear as dents or scratches.

3. Stain script

Poop, vomit, pet urine, food spoilage, blood, ink, and water spills are the main cause of stubborn stains on the hardwood floors. It is advisable to remove the stains before you refinish the floor. There are many natural remedies you can use to remove stubborn stains such as baking soda, vinegar, and ammonium solution.

4. Cupping

Cupping occurs as a result of water damage. The moisture, which is absorbed by hardwood planks, causes the edges of hardwood planks to move upwards and the center of the board to move downwards. Sanding can return the planks into their usual state. If the hardwood planks are separating, consider a replacement.

5. Splintering hardwood boards

Household pets, mischievous kids, and High foot traffic can make the edges of hardwood boards splint. The splintering hardwood boards not only look unattractive but can also lead to accidents. If the splintering is not persistent, you can repair it by removing any dust or debris from the edges and then applying some wood glue in the damaged area.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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