Hardwood Floor Resurfacing vs Refinishing

Are you thinking about revamping the old hardwood flooring in your home but are unsure about what to do? This article is aimed at enlightening you on the similarities and differences between resurfacing and refinishing to help you make a choice that suits your needs.

Floor resurfacing involves removing old floorboards that are severely damaged or cracked and replacing those new reinforced planks with nails.

Floor refinishing involves sanding or screening down the topmost layer of the floor to remove the dull and scratched finish and adding a fresh topcoat over the existing wood to make it look new and shiny again.

In comparison, resurfacing can be done only by a professional but any DIY enthusiast can efficiently handle a refinishing job. Floor refinishing is cheaper than replacing old and uneven floorboards entirely. Plus while resurfacing changes the entire outlook of the floor, refinishing still maintains the shape and size of the floorboards, correcting only their deformity and color.

Hardwood Floor Resurfacing vs Refinishing

PriceChanging the floorboard is expensive.Replacing the old and warped finishing wouldn’t cost you as much as replacing the floorboard.
Results after projectChanges the entire look of the floor.Maintains the style and design of the floor to improve its appearance.
ProcessFloorboards must be removed.No need to remove floorboards.
DurabilityHighly durable.Reduced durability.
Ideal forFloors that are warped, bent, water damaged, rotted, unevenly colored, cracked, etc.Floors with Discoloration or superficial scruff marks.
Access to spaceAlmost immediately.After several days.

Differences between hardwood floor resurfacing and refinishing

A lot of people use the words ‘resurfacing and refinishing’ interchangeably without knowing that they entirely mean different things. We’ve highlighted their major differences below, continue reading to know more.


Floor resurfacing is expensive because it requires replacing floorboards with new ones and paying a professional to handle the job. On the other hand, floor refinishing may cost you just a few hundred dollars, which is more inexpensive than resurfacing because it’s more of a DIY project. All you need to do is buy the necessary tools and materials for the project.


Floor resurfacing and refinishing mean different things entirely, requiring different processes and methods altogether. Unlike resurfacing, which requires you to change the damaged floorboards, refinishing entails three major processes, which include;

  1. Screening- Taking off the top layer of polyurethane without removing any wood is known as floor screening. This process is an alternative to sanding, necessary only when the finish on the hardwood floor is worn out, dull, or scratched.
  2. Sanding – This process removes the worn out, stained, or damaged layer of the hardwood floor, revealing a fresh layer of wood where you can apply a new coat of oil or lacquer. While refinishing may seem like an easy DIY solution every time your hardwood floor starts to look dull, remember that sanding off the dull layer removes a thin layer of the wood, which reduces the integrity of the floor. To avoid this, refinishing shouldn’t be done too often; ensure that the floor is well-maintained and you won’t have to worry about it losing its luster any time soon.
  3. Finishing- The three general types of floor finishing are polyurethane, waxes, and penetrating oils and sealers. Polyurethane is the most common among the three because it is moisture-resistant and durable; nevertheless, find out if the finish you intend to use is compatible with the existing one on the floor. Ensure not to use just any finish unless you are sanding down the floor to bare wood.

Access to space

Upon completion of resurfacing, you can move into your space almost immediately or even live in it while the project is ongoing. When refinishing, you may have to move out for a while because of the clouds of dust, dirt, and chemicals that the process produces, which may cause allergy or breathing problems to those susceptible. Also, you may not have access to your space for days until the finishing product you used is completely cured.


Every time you refinish your hardwood floor, a layer of wood is taken off. If you do this often, the wood loses its integrity over time, reducing the lifespan of the floorboards but this is not so with resurfacing because the damaged floorboard is taken off completely and replaced with a new one. Although, the replaced floorboard(s) might seem more durable than the older ones; nevertheless, you won’t have to worry about your hardwood flooring breaking every time you place a heavy load on it.

Similarities between hardwood floor resurfacing and refinishing

Now that you understand how different floor resurfacing and refinishing are, here are a few things that are similar between them.

Improve the aesthetic of your space

You may not have an idea of how much impact your flooring has on your space until you make certain changes on it. Whether you are refinishing or resurfacing, the overall outlook of your home improves and becomes aesthetically pleasing.

Time-consuming processes

Whether you intend to refinish the floor by yourself or hire a professional to resurface it, the entire process is time-consuming because you will have to move your furniture out or into other rooms and even deep-clean after everything is done. Plus you may have to put some other aspects of your life on hold until the project is completed. So ensure this is something you want before you start.


In general, your hardwood floor has an impact on the aesthetic of your space; but choosing whether to resurface or refinish it depends on its present condition. Refinishing is a good idea if there are only scratches, scuffs, and discoloration on the floor.

However, if there are extensive damages like holes, uneven floors, water damage, etc., resurfacing is the ideal solution. If complete resurfacing is necessary but seems too much for you at the moment, especially because of the price, another alternative is to laminate the existing floor with an engineered wood, which is more of a DIY project plus you get to spend less.

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