When you think about it, nothing takes a harder hit than the floor beneath your feet. Floors are always in use and they’re frequently bearing the load of everyone’s full weight. While hardwood floors certainly have advantages over carpeting, especially when it comes to maintenance, they’re not invincible to the wear and tear of daily life.

So how do you know when it’s time to refinish your floors?

Refinishing your hardwood floors every so often helps ensure that you’re getting the best look and feel from your flooring investment. Although resilient, maintenance is still essential and knowing when to stop ignoring and start sanding is sometimes tricky. For example, what are the not-so-obvious signals that it’s time to refinish? When should you drop the cord and call a professional? Let’s walk through the ins-and-outs (no pun intended).

The Warning Signs


Wood has natural lines, curves, and shapes that are oftentimes etched over by dog paws, furniture, and footwear. Harsh scratching can be unsightly and are among the most obvious signs that it’s time to refinish. While a sanding will dissolve most scratches, deeper indents may require entire board replacements.


Have your hardwood floors turned gray, black, or simply faded from their original luster? When your floors look gray, it means the polyurethane, or the chemical that protects wood from water damage, has started to wear away and your floors have begun to absorb water.

Once they turn black, unfortunately, there’s no saving them. At this point, you’ll need to have the board itself removed. If a part of your flooring has turned black, you can also opt for a darker stain when refinishing so the rest of your floorboards blend in. This option is cheaper but may jeopardize the well-being of your flooring. When in doubt, it’s best to consult a professional.

Less dramatically, if you notice your floor has simply started to fade, it’s likely due to excess UV exposure and refinishing should do the trick. Refinishing rebuilds the chemical that helps your floorboards resist sunlight.

What to Consider

Choosing A Finish

When it comes to choosing a finish, you’ve got three choices: penetrating sealer, polyurethane, or varnish.

If you love the natural, grainy look of real hardwood, go with a penetrating sealer. While it’s not the most durable of your three options, penetrating sealers are easy to repair. Polyurethane is an oil- or water-based finish that offers top protection against moisture and high-traffic. If you’ve got a big family or your home’s prone to spills, polyurethane is your best bet. This finishing has a plastic final look in comparison to your other choices. Finally, there’s varnish. Varnish finishing has a beautiful glossy sheen that’s easy to spot-repair and becomes more durable with every layer of gloss.

How to Clean

Cleaning your floors before refinishing is absolutely necessary. But when it comes to hardwood, there’s a right and a wrong way to clean. Don’t use brooms with stiff bristles that can cause additional scratching to your floors. And avoid oil-based cleaners at all costs! Instead, choose concentrated cleaners that won’t resist stains and finishing efforts or damage your hardwood. If you’re unsure how to clean, lean on the professionals.

When to Call the Professionals

Speaking of which…nine times out of ten, refinishing hardwood floors is not a project to DIY. That’s because refinishing floors is no easy feat and one wrong move can seriously damage the finish. For obvious reasons (a lack of technical knowledge and lower quality equipment) inexperienced homeowners take much longer to finish the job. Not to mention, the process is incredibly labor-intensive.

So, unless you’re an expert on wood floors, it’s best to call in a professional contractor whenever you’re considering any floor maintenance or upgrade. Calling a professional contractor almost always saves you time, sweat, and, most importantly, the quality of your hardwood floors.


Rejuvenating your hardwood floors is a necessary process made simple and seamless with the help of professional wood floor contractors. If you’re ready to watch scratches and discoloration disappear and improve the overall health of your hardwood, contact a professional today.

More questions on hardwood floors? Cameron the Sandman can help!

As experts in the hardwood flooring industry, Cameron the Sandman can answer all your flooring questions and bring your wood floors back to life. Our highly qualified team brings over 80 years of experience and knowledge ensuring a job done quickly and efficiently.

Our hardwood floor services include hardwood sales, installation, restoration and more! Call today and speak to an expert.