Well, no one will be pleased to have to read an article with a title like this. Even the best hardwood floors wear and take damages – from scratches and gouges due to everyday use, discoloration, wear spots in high-traffic areas, to really heavy conditions like beneath-the-surface issues due to mold or termites, or even complete lack of a subfloor.
There is good news too. Hardwood flooring tends to be really durable and they often can be refinished or repaired – even several times – instead of fully replaced. When the flaws are minor and and there are only surface damages like slight warping, dents, scratches or peeling, a good thick hardwood flooring can be fully or partially sanded and refinished to look like new. Even individual planks can be successfully replaced here and there, when paying attention to the right choice of wood, as different wood absorbs the stain differently.
But while spot repairs can be easier when you can work around flaws with furniture, carpets, etc. – like in a bedroom, for example, they can be almost impossible in large open spaces like living rooms. Then it is time for a complete refinishing – when possible – or even for a replacement.
The most important thing is to actually know what you have to do with your hardwood flooring. Sometimes sanding and refinishing will not do the work. If the floor has already been sanded and refinished too many times, it might be too thin to be repaired again, as there would not be enough plank material left to sand it again.
Water damage causes the wood to bulge or warp. If only a part of the floor has taken a water damage, it may be possible to replace individual planks, but such damages often go deeper than the surface and cause structural issues.
Discoloration is a common problem that can usually be fixed by refinishing the hardwood flooring – when it is caused by sunlight, or even by water damage. But if there are dark, or even black stains after a water damage, this means that you have to replace the floor, as the structure of the wood is damaged.
Mold is another common problem with wood floors. Sometimes it is possible to treat and clear mold using fungicide, but in most of the cases the mold has damaged the subfloor and then both need complete replacement. The same can be said about termites – the decision depends on the extent of the damage they have caused.
Excessive wear, paint stains, bonded carpet tend to allow relatively simple fix by refinishing. Just keep in mind that sometimes the worn areas can cause serious issues as splintered planks, which have to be replaced.
Moving or creaking boards might be just result of aging, but they might also indicate damaged subfloor or foundation. In every case, a good idea is to consult with an experienced professional hardwood floor contractor to advise you on the best treatment, or whether additional work is necessary, such as sub floor repair or replacement, or even a new hardwood floor installation.