Out with the Old (Hardwood)

I’m a self-admitted HGTV nerd.  I have it on constantly at home and even my kids have taken to watching some of my favourite shows with me.  So I know what I’m talking about when I say that the obsession with “original hardwood floors” is next level.  I’ve debated turning it into a drinking game.  Every time someone gets excited when they pull back carpet to reveal original hardwood, take a drink.  You’ll be three sheets to the wind within an hour I guarantee it.

So it might surprise you to learn that despite a house full of it, we have removed every single stick of original hardwood flooring in our home (even the stuff we found under carpet, *gasp*) to replace it.  I know right?! But here’s why we did it and some things for you to consider if you find yourself faced with the same dilemma.

  1. Current Condition – What kind of condition is the current floor in? Obviously this is a big one.  At first glance our floors looked pretty good but the longer we live in our new home and the closer we looked at them, we realized that wasn’t actually the case.  The floor in two of the rooms has a different finish that the rest of the house.  There is significant “cupping” in many of the boards and there is an area that has a fair amount of water damage due to leak the previous owners had. And it squeaks. A lot. Like horror movie style sounds.  Some people may find that charming but I find it annoying.
  2. Availability –  Our entire main floor isn’t large but it is open concept so we wanted to have the same flooring throughout the space.  Unfortunately, they no longer make hardwood flooring in the width we currently have so any repairs or rooms that would require new flooring wouldn’t match exactly.  Maybe not a big deal for some but I knew that it would drive me crazy in the long run. It is possible to get matching wood custom milled however it’s a significant expense and most companies have a minimum order requirement.
  3. Cost – Refinishing hardwood isn’t cheap.  The quote we got was more than double the cost that we’ve incurred to replace it and replacing it has allowed us to address other issues with the floor we otherwise would not have been able to (i.e. the squeaks)
  4. Lifestyle & Durability – This isn’t the first house we’ve lived in with original hardwood so I know from experience it isn’t very durable.  Obviously that will depend on your lifestyle and family.  We don’t have pets but we do have kids and I want them to be able to live in our house without stressing every time something drops or a toy is driven through the hallway.
  5. Longevity –  Our existing hardwood had one refinish left.  If it needed repairs in the future, we would be unable to sand and refinish it again.

After weighing the pros and cons and determining what overall look we wanted, we decided that ripping all the flooring out and starting over worked best for us.  This has allowed us to install plywood over our existing sub-floor to minimize and eliminate where possible squeaks and unevenness. I love the farmhouse style of wide-plank reclaimed looking flooring so we went with a high end laminate.  Super durable for kids and pets.  A side benefit is the warmth it has provided.  Additional layers on our floor has made it much warmer and ultimately helping us save on our energy bill.  While I love the thought of maintaining a home’s original charm, sometimes practicality needs to win out.



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