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What to Know Before Refinishing Your Floors

After about 20 years, most hardwood floors start showing their age; scratches, dullness and discoloring are the most common signs that the wood is due for refinishing. Fortunately, the typical ¾-inch-thick hardwood floor can be sanded about six to eight times during its lifetime. So unless you live in a particularly old house, or a previous resident was an especially aggressive refinisher, chances are good that your wood floors can be brought back to life.

You need at least 1/32
of an inch of wood on the top of your floors to sand them. If your home has heat registers in the floor, remove a grille and take a sidelong look at the surrounding planks to see if that’s available. If that’s not possible, you can remove a plank from an inconspicuous location (like the inside of a closet) or ask a professional floor refinisher to appraise the situation. You can’t refinish laminated wood floors (such as Pergo); you might be able to refinish an engineered wood floor, depending on the finish and how thick the top layer of wood is.
Considerations: If only a certain area of the floor looks bad, just do a light sanding and sealing in that section, rather than doing the whole floor.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to go to the hassle and expense of refinishing the floors, consider having them rescreened. In this process a machine roughs up the existing polyurethane, then the floor is buffed and a new coat of polyurethane is applied. This is not to be confused with “sandless” hardwood floor refinishing, a less effective process that simply cleans the existing floor.