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Time's Up! How to Tell If Your Floor Needs to Be Refinished

You know better than anyone else what your beautiful hardwood floors go through for your family. Paws, claws, toys, shoes, little feet, big feet, furniture feet...even the strongest floor couldn't stand up to all of that forever. You will eventually start to see the damage along your once impeccable floorboards and realize that it might be time to refinish them.

For those of you who don't mind the aesthetic of a well-worn floor, don't click away yet! Refinishing your floor isn't just about looks. It's about preventing irreversible damage. The good news, however, is that there is a way to know if your floors are in immediate need of a face lift or if you can wait a bit longer to raise the funds. These simple tests will also help you narrow down the areas that need repair or confirm the fact that the whole floor needs work.

Test 1: The Broom Test

While it isn't always the case, sometimes the dull, scratched-up state of your floor could just be an indicator that your floor needs a good cleaning.

Get rid of superficial scratches and built up grime by going over your floor with a SOFT bristle brush. Vacuum to ensure all of the grit is gone, then finish up with a microfiber cloth and some hardwood floor cleaner. Who knows? Your floors may end up looking great with just this one simple, inexpensive step!

Test 2: The Water Test

Pour about a tablespoon of water over any spots that you think might need to be refinished and watch what happens. Be sure to wipe up all remaining moisture with a paper towel as soon as you see the results.

Reading the Results

  • If the water forms droplets on the surface of your floor, you won't need to make any repairs.

  • If the water slowly starts to soak into the wood, you can wait a while longer to call your contractor. Just keep an eye on it.

  • Should the water soak into your floor quickly and leave a dark spot, you need to have the floor repaired as soon as possible.

You can try this test if multiple places to see if you need to refinish everything or just a few spots. Homeowners on a budget should be particularly diligent about this, as there are many cases where floors only need some touching up in select areas. It's best to save the money if you can, but if you do have to refinish the whole surface, do it right. Consider hiring a professional to handle the job. There's nothing worse than having to pay double because an inexperienced contractor or non-professional made a mistake.

Test 3: The Card Test

This one is for those of you who know you have to do some refinishing and are just wondering if you can get away with a quick DIY fix.

Grab an index or business card (we'd be happy to provide one for you) and look for a spot in your floor where there is a deep groove between two floorboards that don't line up as they should. Push the card into said groove as far as it will go, then mark where the top of the floorboard lands on it with a pencil. Measure from the edge of the card to the mark. If your measurement is less than 3/4 of an inch you should definitely have a professional out. Refinishing can be tricky work and, as we mentioned before, you don't want to pay more than you need to later on.

We promise that the cost will be worth it in at the end of the day. Not only will your hardwood floor look new, but its life will be extended significantly if you refinish it every ten years or so. And with hardwood floors adding so much extra to the overall value of a house, that is an investment you'll definitely see pay off if you ever decide to sell. So do take these tests and refinish if you need to. Your floor deserves that little extra love.

Happy flooring!


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