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Paint VS Stain: Which is Better for Old Hardwood Floors?

Floor damaged by wear and tear

Hardwood floors, as sturdy as they are, inevitably sustain the wear-and-tear of everyday life. If scratches and stains are not properly dealt with, the appearance of your floors can really suffer. For many homeowners replacing an entire hardwood floor isn’t a viable option, so some turn to the next best thing: staining or painting. But which option is best for you, your home, and your budget? The following are pros and cons of both approaches that we hope will help you make the right decision for you.


Floor being refinished with a dark stain

One option for homeowners dealing with old, scratched, or otherwise beaten-up floors is to refinish or stain them.


This option allows you to get as close to the original look of your hardwood floors as possible. Refinishing or staining a hardwood floor restores its appearance, can get rid of unsightly scratches and stains, and can add resale value to your home. It can also increase your floor’s durability, adding years to its lifespan.


Staining or refinishing a floor is hard work. The process usually involves removing the existing finish, sanding down the whole floor to get rid of scratches and stains, and reapplying a few new coats of finish. This can be a very time-consuming venture for a DIYer, or a costly one for homeowners hiring a contractor. Additionally, if you don’t know the specific brand and variety of finish your old floor had it can be difficult to recreate the exact look.


Hardwood floor painted white

Another option for homeowners looking to spruce up their floors is to paint them. This is a much less common practice than staining, but some more creative types are finding interesting ways to approach the project.


Painting a floor is certainly cheaper and easier than refinishing a floor. It also allows you to get creative and use your floor as a canvas, using bright colors, creating beautiful patterns, or even painting entire murals. Painted wood floors bring a whole new feature to the décor of your home and, if done well, can add lots of beauty to any room.


Of course, painting a hardwood floor comes with plenty of cons. For one, laying down the primer and layer after layer of paint can take a lot of time. Paint is also not as durable as stains or finishes, and many homeowners with painted floors complain about peeling, cracking, and chipping over time. Additionally, not every home buyer likes a painted hardwood floor, so if you’re planning on selling your home quickly this may not be the best option.


When it comes to updating the look of old hardwood floors, most homeowners choose to refinish or stain, especially if they are particularly tied to the original appearance of their hardwood. But your hardwood floors are just that – yours – and you should paint however you want them if you have the inclination. Just remember that your floors are an integral part of your home, and you should treat them as something that will be around for a long time – because they will!

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