Refinish pine floors or install 'Pergo" or laminate?

31 Replies

I am at odds with the guy helping me reno my reno. He says just buy carpet. He hasnt run rentals to see what happens to rental carpet. I am so tired of replacing carpet. Going to wood floor,,,they can buy a area carpet if they want.

Anyway I "thought" there was oak hardwood under carpet. Guess its only hard if you hit your head on it. Turns out its 'soft' wood,,,pine flooring which is pretty common back in day of build. Pine still looks good but not as luxery as oak and its softer and scratches more easily.

Other factor is it needs patched in a few places where wall/doorway was moved and heat registers moved.

Is a pergo laminate oak floor better than pine? Been told this house should rent from 6 to 700 a month,its small.

I wanted to put ceramic tile in kitchen and laundry/back entry. Linoleum is my helpers first choice. Had too many ripped ruined and burned to do that,,,plus it is slick with snow on your feet. Ceramic is colder on bare feet,,,thats why throw rugs were invented.

Pergo or pine??? vinyl or ceramic?

I like ceramic tile.It depends on how long you hold it for.

If you spend a little more tile almost lasts forever.Make sure and get the non slip kind for a few cents more per sq ft.It has a light coating that helps keep from slipping.

If you do laminate the floor gets eaten up in a few years.You could use the squares that stick on but the corners start coming up making a trip hazard.

Yes tiles can be cold.You can't please everyone.The tenant can always get a throw rug on sale for cheap and lay it down.

I would just refinish the pine if it's in good shape.I think for 600 or 700 a month the tenant won't be that picky.

In really old houses around my area, there was this yellow pine that they used for flooring, and this really looks great when re-finished and left un-stained. The problem is that there is no wood to match it if a section must be replaced, since the pine being sold these days is a white pine; stealing boards from a closet is usually the first approach if a section is to be replaced.

Is that the kind of pine you have?

If you plan on using it as a rental, stay away from carpet all together. As for the pine, I would sand and refinish rather than install pergo. The pine will last longer and it'll cost less to refinish. And, if it is between vinyl and ceramic, I would go with a durable vinyl for rentals. Again, it's cheaper and will better suit your needs.

For me vinyl isn't cheaper.On my units vinyl is 350 for the down stairs and tile is 475.

With the turn rate of units in low to mid range rentals life expectancy is generally 3 years before you need replacement from too much wear and tear.

If you hold for 10 years that is 350,350,and 350 which is 1,050 over time in costs versus 450 today for tile.Actually it will be much higher than that as in 3 years and 6 years time the cost of material and labor will be higher than today.

Tile is very cheap.The most expensive component to tile is the labor to install it.You just have to look around to find quality work at a great price.

A neutral colored tile will stay in fashion for years and years with tenant acceptance.

Just my experience.Everyone has a different take.

I started buy / hold about 5 years ago. Listen to Joel! Vinyl is NOT the way to go if you're not reselling. It will look great IF CARED FOR. It will only take one set of dirty tenants to completely trash your nice vinyl floor, especially the square tiles. We made the switch to ceramic, and I'll never go back. I've also phased out carpet. It looks great until you hand over the keys, then kiss it good bye. Even if you get more than one turn over out of it, prospective tenants will think it is 10 years old, when it is really 2. Hardwoods on the other hand always look good. And mopping with some oil soap is quicker and cheaper than shampooing carpet. PLUS, it is way easier to determine the extent of damage that has been done to hardwoods and ceramic versus any other flooring. Damage to hardwoods and ceramic is OBVIOUS, and it is quickly noticeable. Vinyl, carpet, pergo, etc just start to look bad and in my experience, you've got to chalk that up to "wear and tear" unless something is blatant. Otherwise you're spending HOURS trying to document "damage" versus "wear and tear" on your flooring.

When I first stated out the vinyl looked good. And since my wife and I are clean people, we can actually use such products and keep them looking nice. A rental, FORGET ABOUT IT! Spend the money up front and do it once. I'm telling you, all the vinyl I put in in the last 5 years is coming out in the next 2, all the carpet SAME THING if I'm lucky.

If you're getting ACE tenants 100% of the time, you're fine. But, good luck with that ;-)


I completely agree Joel. My helper always looks at the 'short term',,,and I have been schooled to look at the long term, like you.

Its alot like painting or siding a house,,a no brainer.

My affordable labor is two armies I enjoy.

Left army and right army.

I recently started to do my own ceramic and need MORE experience. I enjoy doing it but it does take time.

My floor tile choice is called 'Destin' from Mennards and is 12 X 12" tile. Hardest part is kitchen and utility room have oak hardwood floor under existing old style linoleum and has to come out,,,replaced with 3/4" plywood,,,then
Green E underlayment ,,,then I use a water barrier membrane then tile and of course grout.

They have this product you use INSTEAD of water when mixing grout and you NEVER have to seal it

No Pergo or other "fake" laminate--ever--please! It looks hideous even when first installed, and it looks even worse in just a few years.

If there is wood underneath--either oak or pine--I will always refinish, even if it needs patching. I agree with stealing strips from the closet--you can always put new strips back in the closets and then it's less noticeable. However, staining is not a big deal, and it really helps breathe new life into a hodge-podged floor, if need be.

I avoid carpet at all costs, but sometimes it's unavoidable, like when the house is on a slab. I can't justify the expense of installing new hardwood flooring, so carpet it is.

I always install porcelain (porcelain is tougher than ceramic) versus any kind of vinyl flooring, whenever possible, for all the good reasons already stated. However, I see no reason to pull up existing solid wood flooring simply to replace it with plywood and then backer board. Can't you just apply a 1/4" layer of cement board before you install your tile? Or would that make your new finished floor too high?

Originally posted by Terri Pour-Rastegar:
However, I see no reason to pull up existing solid wood flooring simply to replace it with plywood and then backer board. Can't you just apply a 1/4" layer of cement board before you install your tile? Or would that make your new finished floor too high?

1/4 inch underlayment over tongue and groove hardwood will not provide sufficient rigidity required by ceramic tile.

Paint the living areas of the pine floor and paver over wonderboard the kitchen/bath.

BTW screen the heck oit of the floor before painting. An 80 grit screen should do the trick. As for patching. You can buy the pine flooring at

I pulled back carpet further last week and have some very DEEP damage from time passed when wood floors were norm.

How deep can you sand? No closets to rob from,,will check with some salvage places. Prob should sand a place or two to see if it macthes. This looks more yellow pine than last house. Size matters too,,,has to be excellent match.

OR what other hardwoods can I replace with?

And how far back to random splice into so splices dont lap??

Also what would one think of taking off old linoleum and refinishing glued up oak in kitchen? Does oak work for kitchens? I have no clue what builder was thinking with oak in kitch and utility room and pine in living and bedroom.

I know this post is a little old. But when I redid my kitchen in my condo, we found some ugly looking oak underneath 4 layers (vinyl, vct, 1/4" luan, and asbestos tile). It cost $150 to sand/refinish and it looked great. The glue was no problem since it was so old and dry.

I always advocate hardwood and porcelain as the best long term flooring solutions.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :
In really old houses around my area, there was this yellow pine that they used for flooring, and this really looks great when re-finished and left un-stained. The problem is that there is no wood to match it if a section must be replaced, since the pine being sold these days is a white pine; stealing boards from a closet is usually the first approach if a section is to be replaced.
Is that the kind of pine you have?

This post was incredibly valuable today! The current reno has 4" wide 100+ year old pine subfloor that I'm going to have sanded out, I think it will look great, old pine is much denser than modern young trees. But I've left the old carpet down while major wall work is being done, and there's an unknown amount of floor damage from radiator leaks etc that needs to be repaired. Reading this post inspired me to scavenge about 24 sq ft of flooring from the soon to be tiled kitchen and put it aside for the floor repair patches that will match the old pine perfectly. Thanks.

I recently pulled carpet out of a rental that had hardwood on the main floor and pine upstairs. Half of the upstairs pine had 9x9 asbestos tiles over it. I had a floor guy sand all of the floors, including the pine. After he removed the tiles, he was able to sand through all of the tar that was underneath and the floors look great. This is common in my area to have more expensive oak on the main floor and cheaper pine upstairs. I would still go with wood over the other alternatives.

I am a contractor and I just pulled up a hardwood floor in a kitchen due to a leaking dishwasher. The dishwasher had been leaking for years and no one ever noticed because the water was running between the wood floor and subfloor and because the subfloor soaked up most of the water there was far more damage to it than the oak flooring. Long story short what started out as a simple water leak repair and replace a few pieces of flooring ended up in an entire $15k kitchen redo. The water had damaged all the sub floor under the cabinets and the bottom of the cabinets all of which had to be replaced as well as two floor joist. I have never recommended wood floors in a kitchen. If this customer had tile floor chances it would have shown the water damage much sooner and saved this customer thousands. Around here lowes sells a good neutral 12x12tile for $.45 a square foot which looks good with nearly anything. Hope this helps.

I'm sure you have everything finished by now ;-)

I've done mostly 100-year old houses in Atlanta and they all had pine floors. That is totally different from today's yellow pine. It's called 'heart-pine' , because it's from the heart of the pine trees.

If you think of a cut tree, you can count the age on the rings inside. Those rings are sap, which is really hard, like glue. So, in the middle of the tree, where the rings are closer together, you'll have much more sap, and the wood is much harder. In today's time you have tree farms and they fertilize and those trees grow much faster. That also means that the distance between rings is wider and you have less sap and softer wood.

Anyway, absolutely redo the pine floors, over anything else.

As to the previous post about wood in the kitchen and the subfloor rotting out. With really old houses there usually isn't a subfloor under the wood. They will nail the flooring right onto the joists. So, any water would just run through into the crawlspace or basement. Subfloors under woodfloors is more modern.

Originally posted by @Michaela G. :

Subfloors under woodfloors is more modern.

I don't know when the practice changed, but one unit of mine that I know was gutted about 1950 had diagonal 5" TnG sub under 2.25" oak. The units upstairs had original wide (I think 4") 5/4" pine floors under various ply and linoleum, but they had odd wear patterns, like they'd been scraped in the middle but not the edges. The wear was almost down to the tongue, making them unsandable, and they got covered in laminate. The next job may get Costco's click bamboo, I've been reading good things about it.

We had an 1890 house where the third floor walk up attic had the original tongue & groove southern yellow pine floors. These floors were never finished at all, the bare wood was walked on for 120 years and the floors were black with a century of dirt, dust, grime, etc.

We finished the attic into 4 more rooms and had a professional floor refinisher sand the floors and ploy them. They looked like brand new.

Always refinish wooden floors. I always use tile in the kitchen. Never use carpet unless you like throwing money away. I use laminate wood flooring as a last resort in areas that don't already have wooden floors but I don't care for it too much. Not excited about vinyl even though the new ones look nice but scared to try it.

@Rob K. Too late now but that black tar holding down asbestos tile often contains asbestos as well. Sanding is a huge no no. Makes all that asbestos air borne. Your sanding guy likely got a huge dose of asbestos in his lungs as a regular particulate mask is too pourous to prevent asbestos from entering. It also contaminated the whole unit. Of course if you had it tested a head of time and you knew it was asbestos free your approach was golden.

I recently refinished pine floors in some of my units and it looks great. The tenants all love it. $1.25/sq ft. I did have one unit where the wood was not in good condition with lots of nails, etc. and it did not look too good. I recently had a unit with wood like that and put laminate over it. Found some for $0.39/sq ft at lumber liquidators. Easy to put in and looks awesome. Lets see how it holds up.

my opinion? Natural is best.. sand that pine and stain it brother.. and I also say ceramic tile.. I think I seen where you can run heated cords under it also.. I may be wrong on that one so look into it first

refinish the floors and use ceramic tile. The whole point of renting is to make money. In the long run you will save money with the tile, if not the short term also as vinyl can be pricey too. The install is the hardest most expensive but it is not that hard to do. You can get tile from lowes or home depot for $1 a foot if your a bargain shopper and don't mind the everyday look, or even better if you've never done it before go with bigger tile, like 18"x18" then you have that many less to lay. You can get a wet saw to cut tile for $100-$200 then have it for your next project, and its not that hard to install. After you figure out your starting point use the tile spacers and just roll with it. They might turn out slightly crooked or uneven since your not a pro but to the tenant or untrained eye they will look mint and last forever. Make sure you get extra, if someone drops something you can chip up the one tile, replace, re-grout and its good to go!

As for the wood flooring, you can rent a sander for a day for $75 buck and have at it. Buy the stain for $50(more or less depending on how big an area) and do it your self also. Vinyl is nice since you can lay it quick but if you have to replace it every few years then you not saving time in the long run.

Why give away profits when neither task is too hard to do? That's the way I look at it. Plus it nice to feel the sense of accomplishment!

Either way good luck!!

We bought a SFR built in 1941 and we refinished the original pine floors. Our first tenant after the floor refinishing was a petite woman who loved stilettos. She lived there for less than a year. All of the pine wood floors now have pock marks from the heels of the stilettos. I was crushed.

We asked the pro floor refinisher what could be done. He examined the floors and said we have "one last sand" because after you sand too many times the tongue and groove and nails start to show. So we are saving our "last sand" for the day when we decide to sell. Until then, we need a "pine wood floor addendum" to make sure the tenant knows the type of care required for soft wood floors.

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