Refinish Hardwood Floors in C Class Neighborhood???

12 Replies

Hey guys, I could seriously use some help with this one.  I am currently rehabbing a brick house in a blue collar, low income (but definitely not warzone) neighborhood, and today I found out that there is hardwood underneath the plywood. There was originally vinyl sheet flooring covering the floors in all of the rooms when I purchased the home, and that is now being removed, as I was planning on having carpet installed once the painters finish up the interior. 

Ever since I saw that there is hardwood underneath, I have been entertaining the notion of refinishing those floors. The majority of the homes in the neighborhood have carpet, and I while I have no delusions regarding the likelihood that hardwood will add much monetary value, I do think that the added feature would enable it to sell/rent quicker than others in the area. 

One major benefit of going with the hardwood is that it should actually cost less than the purchase of carpet, padding and installation, which would be great because we have gone a little bit over the original budget. While the additional time that it will take to refinish the floor is acceptable, the fear I have is that we will find severely damaged/irreparable hardwood once all of the plywood is removed from the entire house. That would result in additional costs and time that can be avoided if I simply have carpet installed, especially since such flooring is atypical in the neighborhood. I would GREATLY appreciate any advice/guidance that you wonderful investors are willing to provide on this matter. 

You are already over budget and are suggesting going over schedule (read - going even further over budget) is acceptable.  Both of these things are costing you money and should not be acceptable.  So just from your post I feel like you are talking yourself into spending more time and money and I'm not sure why.  You mention it may not add value to rent / sell quicker.  You mention it may or may not cost less.

You are working with a fair amount of assumptions here that can cost you money and are talking yourself into going over budget. Get quotes and find out what the costs are - don't assume.  Look at your market. 

My opinion, save the hardwoods for when you sell.  Cover them up, and meet the market demand.  Especially if there is a fear of discovering further damage which will mean more rehab costs in the refinishing.  

I hope that helps. 

You're going to spend $3-4/sq. ft. for someone good to refinish those floors properly. It takes lots of sanding (and not just sanding, but sanding done right, so you don't end up with ruts in the wood), 1-2 coats of stain, and should involve 2+ coats of clear coat. And once you've done that, the tenants may tear the hell out of them.

I put carpet or laminate over it while I have tenants in there, then refinish the hardwood when I'm ready to sell the place.

Also to be considered is that the plywood fasteners, nails or screws,  will have left lots of holes in the wood flooring which may have been covered up for a reason other than aesthetics.  I agree that the added time and expense aren't a wise move from an investment standpoint. 

Carpet for now.  

I'm in the middle of a similar situation now.  I briefly considered refinishing, but not seriously.  It took about one minute of peeking under the old carpet to decide against refinishing.  As the others have already said, I'll save the hardwoods for 1) when (if) I sell, or (2) after gentrification comes to the block and new tenants may expect (and more importantly) pay for features such as hardwood floors.

You guys are awesome. Thanks a lot. This totally makes my decision easier. There are too many unknowns. Carpet it is. 

I've been refinishing the hardwoods in my rentals.  Those last a longer time versus carpet which seems to need to get replaced over time.

I would not refinish hard wood floor for a rental property no matter the neighborhood.  Speaking from experience the floors will be trashed over time with renters.  My suggestions is to put laminate flooring over the hard wood.  The laminate will wear better and will not show wear and tear as easily

I wouldn't refinish, but I wouldn't do carpet either.  I'd put in hardwood looking laminate.  Carpet needs to be replaced with almost every tenant in my experience, and that gets expensive.  Agree that it would likely be more appealing to the applicants, ours love the wow factor that non-carpet offers.

@Allen Thomas ,  Good choice going with carpet!  I've only found one house with old hardwood that could be refinished and that was because most of it had never been covered with anything (carpet, vinyl, etc).  Having plywood on top of yours pretty much guarantees that it will be too damaged to save.

.....I also meant to add...... I pay around $1.50/sq.ft. to have carpet installed but the refinishing cost closer to $3.00/sq.ft..  The floors came out beautiful but it was much more expensive than carpet.

Laminate will last longer than wall to wall carpet and cost less over time.

Another nice mid level option I've seen is to paint the hardwood then get a pre-made area rug 10'x10' or 10'x12' from lowes and staple it to the floor in the middle of the room. It looks pretty sharp and is cheaper to replace than wall to wall carpet.

I have refinished hardwood in a rental, but only because it was the only way that worked to cover animal urine smell. In another rental, we covered with laminate. cheap laminate, because all new laminate looks nice whether cheap or expensive. I find that renters really mistreat the carpet..

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