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Is refinishing hardwood floors worth it?

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[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville

Is refinishing hardwood floors worth it?

The hardwood floor in my living room is almost 18 years old. I don't like its color ( yellow?) and want to change it to dark walnut. Is refinishing hardwood floors worth it? I suppose it could be much cheaper than replace it?
28 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
20033 posts
17910 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
ChristineY wrote: The hardwood floor in my living room is almost 18 years old. I don't like its color ( yellow?) and want to change it to dark walnut. Is refinishing hardwood floors worth it? I suppose it could be much cheaper than replace it?
Pics would help

Yellow … how yellow ?

Anything on the orangey side is probably Oak

How old is the house

Oak is a hardwood.
And well worth the effort to refinish
Esp if it’s an older floor and the oak is of any decent thickness
(Vs a thin veneer that many hardwood floors are now )

Beech or Birch are also hardwoods … but lighter in colour than oak (blonde )
Think IKEA light woods

Pine is quite yellow
But it’s a soft wood so harder to refinish
Cuz sanding will gouge it normally

It’s nice as is as a rustic floor
But it’s an acquired taste for many

PS … Dark stained floors are on their way out
They were big 10+ years ago
Medium tones are still the best bet
Cuz they don’t become dated so much as too dark, or too light (pickled / white washed )
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
18799 posts
11652 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
The problem with dark stained floors is, besides being a fashion trend, is that it's hard to go back if you decide later on that dark isn't for you. I would only go dark if there is a stain that can't be easily cleaned up and want to cover up the colour difference.

As for the yellow, it's possible that the varnish used has a tint (or developed a tint) over the years. If so, you can get that varnish sanded off and finished with a new lighter colour one that won't be yellow.

I'm with @PointsHubby in the various colour assessments - no to dark, pickled, white washed...
Deal Addict
Apr 3, 2006
1181 posts
392 upvotes
If you’re hiring it out, refinishing won’t save you much over brand new. If you need to repair subfloor/squeaks that is also benefit of taking out old floors.
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[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
The house was built in 2003. I don't like the color of the kitchen cabinets and stairs either, although they are almost the same. There is no need to repair subfloor/squeaks. There are only some small scratches or dark dots which cannot be removed.
The link is the photo. It cannot show up when I inserted the URL.
https://imgur.com/a/jPOy3h3
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
PointsHubby wrote: Pics would help

Yellow … how yellow ?

Anything on the orangey side is probably Oak

How old is the house

Oak is a hardwood.
And well worth the effort to refinish
Esp if it’s an older floor and the oak is of any decent thickness
(Vs a thin veneer that many hardwood floors are now )

Beech or Birch are also hardwoods … but lighter in colour than oak (blonde )
Think IKEA light woods

Pine is quite yellow
But it’s a soft wood so harder to refinish
Cuz sanding will gouge it normally

It’s nice as is as a rustic floor
But it’s an acquired taste for many

PS … Dark stained floors are on their way out
They were big 10+ years ago
Medium tones are still the best bet
Cuz they don’t become dated so much as too dark, or too light (pickled / white washed )
The house was built in 2003. I don't like the color of the kitchen cabinets and stairs either, although they are almost the same. There is no need to repair subfloor/squeaks. There are only some small scratches or dark dots which cannot be removed.
The link is the photo. It cannot show up when I inserted the URL.
https://imgur.com/a/jPOy3h3
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 4, 2009
6140 posts
2330 upvotes
ChristineY wrote: The house was built in 2003. I don't like the color of the kitchen cabinets and stairs either, although they are almost the same. There is no need to repair subfloor/squeaks. There are only some small scratches or dark dots which cannot be removed.
The link is the photo. It cannot show up when I inserted the URL.
https://imgur.com/a/jPOy3h3
Dark floors will only accentuate the difference and make you hate your stairs and cabinets even more. Do you have a plan for those too? Plus, dark floors are a major PITA to keep clean. Dust, footprints, scratches all show up a lot more on dark floors.


Imo, you have a nice looking home.
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Lucky
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2010
5462 posts
4490 upvotes
ChristineY wrote: The house was built in 2003. I don't like the color of the kitchen cabinets and stairs either, although they are almost the same. There is no need to repair subfloor/squeaks. There are only some small scratches or dark dots which cannot be removed.
The link is the photo. It cannot show up when I inserted the URL.
https://imgur.com/a/jPOy3h3
FYI I prefer that colour to a dark stain, which everyone has and is so common. My question is, is that why you want a dark stain?

I'm actually having a hard time finding that colour (in luxury vinyl) unfortunately. It brightens the space unlike a darker colour.

Cabinets are easy enough to paint.

I get the sense you just dislike it for the sake of it...fad follower.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
hierophant wrote: FYI I prefer that colour to a dark stain, which everyone has and is so common. My question is, is that why you want a dark stain?

I'm actually having a hard time finding that colour (in luxury vinyl) unfortunately. It brightens the space unlike a darker colour.

Cabinets are easy enough to paint.

I get the sense you just dislike it for the sake of it...fad follower.
Yes, I think dark stain looks more modern. The other reason I don't like it is there are some small sratches ond dark dots and it looks old.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
Toukolou wrote: Dark floors will only accentuate the difference and make you hate your stairs and cabinets even more. Do you have a plan for those too? Plus, dark floors are a major PITA to keep clean. Dust, footprints, scratches all show up a lot more on dark floors.


Imo, you have a nice looking home.
Thank you. I want to paint the cabinets white, which we might be able to do it ourselves. But stairs and floors are much more difficult and we have to hire somebody else. The other reason I don't like the floor is there are some small sratches ond dark dots and it looks old.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6731 posts
6241 upvotes
My oak hardwood floors are the exact same colors as yours. Kind of yellowish because of the natural oak tint, and because of the varnish applied many years ago that been exposed to UV, etc.. Personally, if you want my humble opinion, I would not go with a dark stain. Dark floors are a pita to maintain clean. pet hair, dust, foot prints are alll easily visible on a dark floor. BUT if you really want darker floors, sanding, tinting and varnishing over is the way to go. You'll save $$$ this way instaed of rippinmg all out and install pre tinted floors. And, I think that it will be more durable than a manufacture applied tint and protectant.
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2009
1010 posts
1060 upvotes
I would suggest painting the walls white and bleaching/tinting the floors to a white oak colour.

Dark wood floors will unfortunate date your house and are not currently on trend.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
18799 posts
11652 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
ChristineY wrote: Yes, I think dark stain looks more modern. The other reason I don't like it is there are some small sratches ond dark dots and it looks old.
The problem with looking more 'modern' is that modern keeps changing so any decision you do today may look dated in a few years. If you go with classic, that might not be modern but it's consistent in what classic means.

Also, if you think you have small scratches now, wait until you get a dark stain on light wood... ANY scratch will be highlighted by the dark stain.
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
18799 posts
11652 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
ChristineY wrote: Thank you. I want to paint the cabinets white, which we might be able to do it ourselves. But stairs and floors are much more difficult and we have to hire somebody else. The other reason I don't like the floor is there are some small sratches ond dark dots and it looks old.
You may be better off offloading the cabinet painting to someone else depending on the condition of the cabinets. Kitchen cabinets typically have a lot of cooking oil residue which unless completely removed and the surface properly prepared, will cause issues. Also, any painted surface will look better sprayed over brushed especially for anything with moulding on it as you need to brush the moulding which typically means brush marks.

Speaking of kitchen oils and white paint, that's going to be really hard to keep clean as well. due to white showing off every little bit of cooking residue. Keeping the current finish is the easiest to maintain.
Penalty Box
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Mar 31, 2008
12509 posts
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Toronto
craftsman wrote: You may be better off offloading the cabinet painting to someone else depending on the condition of the cabinets. Kitchen cabinets typically have a lot of cooking oil residue which unless completely removed and the surface properly prepared, will cause issues. Also, any painted surface will look better sprayed over brushed especially for anything with moulding on it as you need to brush the moulding which typically means brush marks.

Speaking of kitchen oils and white paint, that's going to be really hard to keep clean as well. due to white showing off every little bit of cooking residue. Keeping the current finish is the easiest to maintain.
OP is going to be in for a shock if thinking this is easily DIY without proper prep. Airless sprayer would help huge too.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
craftsman wrote: You may be better off offloading the cabinet painting to someone else depending on the condition of the cabinets. Kitchen cabinets typically have a lot of cooking oil residue which unless completely removed and the surface properly prepared, will cause issues. Also, any painted surface will look better sprayed over brushed especially for anything with moulding on it as you need to brush the moulding which typically means brush marks.

Speaking of kitchen oils and white paint, that's going to be really hard to keep clean as well. due to white showing off every little bit of cooking residue. Keeping the current finish is the easiest to maintain.
So, do you think keeping the current finish (cabinets, floors and stairs) is the best choice? Thanks.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
DoorCrasher wrote: My oak hardwood floors are the exact same colors as yours. Kind of yellowish because of the natural oak tint, and because of the varnish applied many years ago that been exposed to UV, etc.. Personally, if you want my humble opinion, I would not go with a dark stain. Dark floors are a pita to maintain clean. pet hair, dust, foot prints are alll easily visible on a dark floor. BUT if you really want darker floors, sanding, tinting and varnishing over is the way to go. You'll save $$$ this way instaed of rippinmg all out and install pre tinted floors. And, I think that it will be more durable than a manufacture applied tint and protectant.
Are you going to keep your current floors?
Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
18799 posts
11652 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
ChristineY wrote: So, do you think keeping the current finish (cabinets, floors and stairs) is the best choice? Thanks.
Depends on the condition of the current finish. Kitchen cabinet finishes take a beating especially if you actually use the kitchen (some people never do so they don't worry about how well the finish holds up but rather how good it looks). If the finish is in good shape, I would take down the doors and give them a good washing with some mild soap and water and see how they look. If the finish is starting to look a little rough, then I would still take them down and wash them but use some TSP to get the bad residual oils off and then assess the next steps. If the finish is more natural than stained (even a light stain), putting a fresh layer of varnish will freshen things up a lot. A stained surface will mean that you need to match the stain or have light/dark patches which don't look good and matching stains is a pain in the ass!

The same holds with the floor and stairs. Check the condition of the finish. If the finish is rough or damaged or yellowing, you can get it removed and apply a new varnish on it.

And for the record, I never liked the painted wood look. I'm more of if you paint, you want a nice flat surface to paint on rather than seeing the wood grain below the paint.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2013
6731 posts
6241 upvotes
ChristineY wrote: Are you going to keep your current floors?
Yes. Never planned to change. In the worst case I'll have them sanded and varnished. But they still in a great shape.
[OP]
Member
Jan 24, 2015
407 posts
58 upvotes
Oakville
craftsman wrote: Depends on the condition of the current finish. Kitchen cabinet finishes take a beating especially if you actually use the kitchen (some people never do so they don't worry about how well the finish holds up but rather how good it looks). If the finish is in good shape, I would take down the doors and give them a good washing with some mild soap and water and see how they look. If the finish is starting to look a little rough, then I would still take them down and wash them but use some TSP to get the bad residual oils off and then assess the next steps. If the finish is more natural than stained (even a light stain), putting a fresh layer of varnish will freshen things up a lot. A stained surface will mean that you need to match the stain or have light/dark patches which don't look good and matching stains is a pain in the ass!

The same holds with the floor and stairs. Check the condition of the finish. If the finish is rough or damaged or yellowing, you can get it removed and apply a new varnish on it.

And for the record, I never liked the painted wood look. I'm more of if you paint, you want a nice flat surface to paint on rather than seeing the wood grain below the paint.
The cabinets and stairs are in good condition. How to get the scratches/ dark dots on the floors removed? Sand it with a sanding machine and then apply a layer of varnish with a brush?

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