How Can You Tell If Your Hardwood Floors Need Refinishing?

Hardwood floors give your home an upscale and elegant look and feel. They can either shine in the sun and lighten a room, or their dark, rich tones can give a warmth to any room. High-quality hardwood floors increase the value of a home, but over time they can need repairs or refinishing. How can you tell when your hardwood floors need refinishing? There is a simple way to find out.


Before you hire a professional hardwood flooring refinisher or try to take on the job yourself, take a peek at how your floors look. Do they have a dull appearance or have slight scratch marks? If this is the case, you most likely can do simpler touch-ups instead of investing in a full-on refinish of your floors.

Are there water damage marks? Or perhaps some of the boards are uplifting or are uneven in some spots? This could mean a complete repair and/or refinish of your floors.

Test the Finish

You can test the finish to see if it really does need to be repaired. Take a tablespoon of water and pour it onto a heavily trafficked area of your floor. Does the water form droplets that stay on top of the wood? If this is the case, the finish is still in good condition and doesn't need to be refinished.

If the water soaks slowly into the wood, it means that the finish is beginning to wear a little thin, but you could wait a while longer to refinish it. If the water quickly soaks into the wood and leaves a dark patch, you need to refinish the wood as soon as possible.

Can Your Floors Be Refinished?

Once you have established that your floors may need to be refinished, you need to know if you can actually have the work done. You need a good 1/32 of an inch to refinish the floors, so you can check this by inserting a business card into a space where the boards don't meet perfectly. Use a pen or marker to mark on the business card how deep you can insert the card. This should give you the depth of wood you have to work with.

You also need to know if your floors are actually hardwood, laminate or engineered hardwood to know if you can refinish them. Engineered flooring is layers of wood that are glued together in a manner similar to plywood, while true hardwood is solid planks.