Purchasing a Home with Hardwood Floors – What to Look For

May 14, 2010

The real estate broker told you about them ten times on the car ride to see the property you are considering purchasing and in all honesty you cannot wait to see them – real hardwood floors. For many homebuyers hardwood floors are a real selling point but how do you know exactly what you might be getting, especially if you are looking at an older home?

For instance, how can you tell what type of finish the hardwood floors on the property have? Its actually quite easy. If the floor was installed in the 1960s or early 1970s or before it is almost certain that you are dealing with a varnish or shellac. To be certain scrape a tiny spot(in an inconspicuous place) with a fingernail. If the finish flakes, it is probably shellac or varnish. Neither finish is really in use anymore and you will want to consider commissioning a full sand and refinishing job to make sure that the finish is as durable as you’d like.

Some people actually cover up their hardwood floors with carpet. If that is the case in the home you are viewing and you’d like them back all is not lost. A good flooring professional can help you restore the hardwood floor to its original splendor. This is rarely a project for the DIYer though as in many cases when carpeting has been laid over hardwood the padding has stuck itself to the hardwood floor and an amateur can easily damage the hardwood floor even further while trying to yank it off, or worse still cut through it with a knife.

Another thing to be on the lookout for is water damage. As a rule the darker and deeper the water stain the worse the damage is likely to be. Many water stains can be removed as part of the sanding and refinishing process, but in some severe cases you may be looking at having to have a board completely replaced.

The best advice we can offer is have a flooring professional inspect the hardwood floors in the home you are considering purchasing before you make an offer or sign a contract. They will be able to let you know roughly what the true state of the flooring is and what would need to be done to bring it back to its beautiful best. If the hardwood floors do need work then present that information to seller, it could be a great way to negotiate a better price.

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