Although the terms sound similar (and are sometimes used interchangeably), refinishing and resurfacing of floors mean two different things, with different processes and different price tags. Both can be performed on a variety of wood floors, including traditional hardwood and engineered wood (aka veneer). Here’s how to distinguish between refinishing and resurfacing.
What is hardwood floor coating?
Refinishing the floor basically means giving it a facelift. Floor refinishing includes:
- Remove existing floor varnish and seal the stain
- Sanding the top layer of the floor to reveal the bare wood and its natural grain
- Apply a new stain varnish or varnish
- Apply a new layer of sealant
Because it is a rather superficial process, “refinishing” can be performed on a variety of floor types, including tile and laminate – although the exact process varies, depending on the surface. If you have an engineered wood floor—that is, a natural hardwood veneer covering plywood or synthetic pulp—it can only be sanded two or three times (depending on the thickness of the veneer), before exposing the core.
What is the surface of hardwood floors?
The resurfacing process includes all of the above, but more. If refinishing is a cosmetic task, refinishing is more than just a structural function. It is triggered when there is actual damage to wood, wood panels and/or fasteners (nails).
Resurfacing the floor means repairing it: removing and replacing the baseboards, grinding the boards out, and strengthening the floor with new nails. After all this, the floor can be refinished – sanded, stained, polished and sealed.
When to resurface vs. refinish wood floors
If the floors are in good condition—just looking worn and worn out or somewhat faded—refinishing may be your best option. In fact, you might be able to get away with just repainting, which skips the sanding process and just involves buffing and applying a fresh final coat.
Refinishing can help breathe new life into an area of flooring that is worn out and in need of refurbishment. It is ideal for structurally unbreakable floors that are still structurally sound, but not up to date.
In contrast, if the floor needs more than one facelift, you need to redo its surface – that is, replace the old materials. Signs of the need to resurface the floor include:
- Severe fading, discoloration, or uneven coloration
- Cracks, holes, or missing pieces
- Signs of mold or water damage
- Twisted, sagging or bent panels
- Missing or bent nails
Floor refinishing and resurfacing costs
There are many factors that go into the average cost of refinishing or resurfacing floors including area in square feet, floor shape, type of wood, and local labor costs. Generally, though, refinishing ranges from $3 to $8 per square foot; The average national job range costs $1,075 to $2,520, according to HomeAdvisor. A simple repainting would cost much less: $1 to $2 per square foot, according to FlooringStores, an online specialist.
Not surprisingly, resurfacing costs more than refinishing, as you’ll have repair and replacement expenses in addition to that. The amount of more can vary greatly, depending on the nature and extent of the damage. In general, though, hardwood floor repair costs typically range from $450 to $1,500, according to HomeAdvisor estimates.
However, this is significantly less than the cost of completely replacing laminate flooring, which averages from $2,500 to $6,800.
DIY or professional use?
Depending on the area of your flooring, the refinishing process may take a few days. It may take a few weeks to surface.
That is if the flooring specialist does it. It will probably take longer if you try to do the task yourself. Refinishing is not out of the DIYer’s domain; Although it is a messy and smelly job, it basically requires an orbital sander. Unless you are an experienced carpenter, resurfacing on your own is not recommended. It requires a complete set of gears, including power saws, grinders, and nail guns.
The bottom line: Refinishing vs. Resurfacing
If the floor is only scratched and dented, it is better to refinish it rather than resurface it. This will restore its original luster, which is less invasive. Instead of completely removing the old flooring material, refinishing involves removing only the top layer of your existing flooring (including the finish), then replacing it with a new one.
However, if the floor is in noticeably poor condition, you will probably want to restructure it instead. It will cost more and will be a more time-consuming process, but in fact it will create a whole new surface.
Regardless of which method you choose, you should never let your flooring get too long without being properly maintained. The longer you wait for the floor to be restored, the more money it will take to make your floors look new again.