There’s something about hardwood floors that’s both grand and fascinating. While some prefer the classic look of wood over tiles or carpet, others simply like that it’s easier to clean and maintain. Although hardwood floors are tough, durable and (often) stand the test of time, they definitely need refinishing touches from time to time. How often they require refinishing, is usually not understood by most homeowners, unless the damage is visible. Some warning signs might go unnoticed by a layperson. Our flooring experts will explain how to look for these tell-tale signs.
Tell-Tale Signs That It’s Time for Hardwood Refinishing
Hardwood floors are a major investment, and when done right they add both beauty and value to your home. But they can lose their lustre over time and start showing signs of wear and tear. Noticing the signs of damage early and taking the necessary steps can extend their life and keep them as good as new.
1. Grey Boards
If your hardwood floors are turning grey, it’s a clear indication that they need to be refinished before more damage is done. Once the polyurethane wears off, the surface becomes exposed to damp and moisture. The wood then undergoes an oxidation process that turns it grey. Common sources of dampness include rain, snow, spilled drinks, floor cleaning products or even adjoining garden walls. Leaving it untreated will only aggravate the problem and darken the wood until it turns black and have to be replaced completely. Fortunately, you can prevent this through simple sanding and floor refinishing. You may also want to deal with any underlying water problem like leaky pipes or damp basements. Otherwise, you may have to keep fixing your floors every now and then.
2. Dull Appearance
While it’s normal for your hardwood floors to lose their lustre, it’s important to take note of their wax coating. Besides giving them an attractive sheen, wax protects the surface from excessive scratches and dents. As the glaze wears off and the surface starts looking dull, the wood becomes more exposed to stains, spills and scratches. Scrape your nail along the surface; if any wax comes off, it’s time for refinishing. Here, wax is more of a valuable protective layer than a mere aesthetic element.
3. Water Damage
Water is the biggest damage factor for hardwood floors. Some common signs of water damage include dark areas, cupping of boards and/or warping (separation between the planks). The leading causes of water damage include leaking air conditioners, broken water heaters, flooding, ice damming, overflowing toilets, and moisture/mould in the basement or adjoining areas. While minor damages like cupping can be fixed with some sanding, major ones like board separation and grey boards require help from flooring experts. They will inspect the damage and decide if you need to refinish just a section of the floor or replace it completely.
If you notice that your hardwood floors look lifeless and discoloured from too much UV ray exposure, it’s time to refinish your floors. The difference in colour is particularly noticeable by the windows when you lift up an area rug. Fortunately, you can fix this problem with floor sanding. Scraping removes the top layer of your wooden floor, which makes the surface smooth, clean and ready for a new stain. This restores the floor’s colour and renews its protection against sunlight. However, if the damage becomes too severe and noticeable, it’s best to go for a complete floor refinishing.
5. Multiple Scratches and Large Chips
While a few scratches are perfectly normal, a large number could be detrimental to your hardwood, especially if they have worn through the stain. Fortunately, most of these scratches are topical and come off with a simple sand and refinish. For occasional deep scratches, dents and large gouges, you might have to replace the entire floor. It’s best to seek help from flooring professionals who can help you decide if you need a replacement. They will also guide you through the process.
6. Missing Boards
If your wooden floor is missing boards, chances are that it has other significant defects as well. While sanding and refinishing won’t replace missing boards, you can look for a flooring company that does both repair and replacement. You probably won’t be able to find new boards that perfectly match your existing floor, but if it’s at least made from the same type of wood, it should blend well.
7. Rough Floors
When the stain wears away and the surface is exposed to wear and tear, the floor becomes rough and can even bruise your feet. Scratches from pets, dents from high shoe heels, furniture marks and general wear & tear can make your hardwood floors look dated and abused. Look for signs like socks snagging as you walk or rugs getting stuck to the floor. Acting fast will prevent extreme damage and reduce the number of replacement boards.
When you opt for hardwood flooring, you are making an investment that could earn a return of a century or more worth of service. It makes sense to protect your investment and care for your wooden floors so they last for decades. Hardwood refinishing is a great way to restore the wood’s original appearance and extend its longevity. Now that you have learned the top warning signs of hardwood damage, you know when to call a flooring expert for assistance.