When are Hardwood Floors Beyond Repair?

Hardwood flooring has been a trending option for homeowners for decades. One of the main reasons for their popularity is because they last so long – often a lifetime. There are times, however, that hardwood floors are beyond repair. Read on to find out when you should throw in the towel on yours.

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Rustic vs. Ruined

The well-loved look of weathered, rustic wood has taken the flooring market by a storm with many going so far as to scavenge boards off old barns to use on projects. While the aged appearance gives wood floor planks a nostalgic look and feel indeed, all wood is not good wood when it comes to flooring. If it’s past its good days, it’s time for the inevitable – replacing it.

Beyond Character

A few scratches, dents, and pings and the weathered effect are ideal for bringing out the cozy, aged character of wood flooring. Marks and chips can even appear on floors that are not designed to have a rustic touch, but often times be doctored to where the fix is unnoticeable. But when do you know your flooring is beyond repair?


Wood floors last a long, long time but they don’t necessarily hold up forever. If your wood planks are rotting or falling apart due to age, there’s nothing more you can do except replace the floor.

Structural instability.

If the structural integrity of your flooring is compromised, it’s time for a new floor. Even if you repair a portion of the floor, you can be sure the remaining planks will be giving way soon. Restructuring is typically more costly that replacing the wood. Wood that is structurally unsound is dangerous, especially to walk on. Whether the culprit is age, weather, water, or quality of the wood, the wood must go.

Water damage.

Some wood is more sensitive to water damage than others. Some are so prone to water damage; they ruin from using too much water when mopping. Flooding, extremely high humidity, and roof leakage are reasons even the most resilient wood flooring can suffer water damage. Once the wood becomes wet, mold and mildew are likely to set in which are pose a huge health risk. The best thing to to if your floor floods is to dry it immediately by soaking it up with a towel and then using a fan, dehumidifier, or blow dryer. If the wood doesn’t dry thoroughly in a reasonable amount of time, it will begin to rot beyond repair and must be totally replaced.


There are three main pests that can cause irreversible damage to your wood flooring to the point it cannot be salvaged – termites, powderpost beetles, and carpenter ants. Termites are the most destructive of all pests where wood flooring is concerned. They eat wood and in just a few years can destroy not only the wood flooring, but the entire of a home. If you have termites, you can have your house exterminated but if they’ve eaten too much of the floor, you’ll need to replace it. Powderpost beetles cause damage by boring their larva through the surface cracks in the flooring rendering holes as the beetles burrow through after they hatch. Carpenter ants are a serious threat, especially on rustic wood flooring. They are unusually large ants that can do a lot of damage to wood – often beyond redemption.


In tending to your wood flooring, sanding is a regular maintenance activity that will keep it free of dents, scratches, and dings. There is only a certain amount of wood surface you can sand off though and sometimes, it’s hard to tell if you are sanding down too far. If you cross the line and sand off too much wood surface, the floor will become too thin and will be unusable because it won’t be able to support the weight of people and furniture that’s upon it.


While there are remedies to noisy wood flooring, sometimes the floor is not going to stop creaking and squeaking. If you can deal with it, you can keep it but if the sounds are driving you nuts, you will need to remove the floor and start over.


Old, worn wood tends to dry out and splinter causing problems for barefoot humans and pets as well. There are fixes where you can condition to wood but if your floor is past the point of no return, you’ll need to completely replace it.

Fading and discoloration.

Hardwood that is in a sunny spot may become sun damaged. Refinishing can help but especially if only one part of the room is exposed, you may find that even re-staining it doesn’t do the trick. In that case, you’ll want to totally replace it and take measures to prevent it happening again such installing a sun blocking device such as a curtain or window bling.

Scratches and dents.

If your wood flooring is made of softwood, you may find it dents and scratches easily. For rustic flooring, the nicks will blend right in but if you have a more polished, modern look, the scratches and dents will need to be repaired through sanding and refinishing. You can only go so far down into the top layer so once you’ve reached the limit, replacing your wood flooring is your only real remedy.


Generally caused by water damage, wood flooring can experience cupping which is when the edges of the planks move upward and the center of them move downwards. Sanding may fix the issue but if not, the wood is beyond repair and will need to be completely replaced.

Facing the Facts

Solid hardwood has been used for flooring for centuries. It is one of the most beloved and long-lasting materials that are suitable for the cause. Sometimes, however, the wood planks have seen better days and have to be retired. The good news is that you can then begin a new chapter with all new wood flooring. Don’t forget to find a solution to the issue that brough on the demise of the current floor before you lay the next one and you should have many years of enjoyment.

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