How Thick Do Hardwood Floors Need To Be Refinished?

By Cezar

No matter what type of hardwood floors you have, there’s a limit to how many times they can be refinished. Each refinishing takes a little more off the wood, which weakens the material. That’s why the thickness of your floorboards is something you must know before refinishing your floors.

On this page we show you how to determine if your hardwood floors are thick enough to refinish.

What Type of Wood Floor Do I Have?

Hardwood floors fall into two broad categories: engineered hardwood floors and solid hardwood floors. Whether or not your floors are thick enough to refinish is the first thing to know before refinishing your floors.

Engineered hardwood floors are made by pressing or gluing together strips of wood into singular planks. Sometimes a distinct veneer of solid hardwood is put over top, but sometimes not. Engineered hardwood floors aren’t as desirable as solid hardwood floors, but they are usually high quality and sometimes look so much like true hardwood that their owners can’t tell them apart.

Solid hardwood floors are what many would call “true” hardwood floors. It’s just planks of solid hardwood.

For the purposes of this post, the important distinction between the two types of flooring is that engineered hardwood floors can generally be refinished three to five times. Solid hardwood can be refinished six to ten times.

Another consideration is the age of the floor. Houses before build the 1920 frequently have floorboards that were very thin from the start.

How to Determine If Your Floor Is Engineered or Solid Hardwood

Pull up a loose plank or perhaps a vent cover — anything that will enable you to see the board’s cross-section. If the interior of the board shows a continuous grain, you have solid hardwood floors. If the cross-section shows different layers of wood, you have an engineered hardwood floor.

Is My Wood Floor Thick Enough To Refinish?

Whether or not your hardwood floors are thick enough to refinish depends on whether they are engineered or solid hardwood (see the previous section). Generally:

Engineered hardwood floors can only be refinished as deep as their 4–6 millimeters wear layer.

You can also use the same trick noted in the “How To Determine If Your Floor Is Engineered Or Solid Hardwood” section above to determine if it’s thick enough to finish. Find a way to get a look at the cross-section of the board and see the thickness.

You can do the business card test, which is where you stick a card into the gap between two boards. Mark the card with a pen or pencil at the point after the card can’t sink any further. The distance between the edge of the card and the marking is approximately the thickness of the board.

Solid hardwood is usually 3/4 of an inch thick when new (though it sometimes comes in 1/2 or 5/8 inches).

What If My Floor Is Too Thin For Refinishing?

If your floorboards aren’t thick enough to refinish, you could possibly give them a light a scruff-sanding with a buffer before doing a semi-refinishing. Really, though, at this point you’d probably want to replace the floors. That’s now what anyone wants to hear, but it’s the truth, unfortunately.

Do I Need A Professional To Refinish My Wood Floors?

There are people who refinish their own floors, but this widely advised against. It’s simply too easy to do irreparable damage to your floors to trust it in anyone’s hands other than professionals. Many house projects are suitable for do-it-yourselfers, but refinishing floors is simply too intensive and too risky for most people to do on their own.

Still, it is technically possible to refinish your own hardwood floors. Many people in fact choose to do so — the number that come to regret doing so, however, is pretty high.

Summary

The most important thing to know before refinishing your floors is how thick they are, which is dependent on whether they are engineered or solid hardwood and how many times they’ve been refinished in the past.

This is not a step to risk skipping. Attempting to sand down through wood that is already too thin can be disastrous for you and your bank account.

There is no “one size fits all” solution here! Each wood floor and its condition are unique. We will provide you with the best and most cost-efficient solution for your floors.

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As a general rule, professionally refinished hardwood floors last 5 times longer vs DIY.