Unfortunately, floors aren’t made to last forever. And while floor cleaning can improve their looks and extend their lives, eventually floors have to be replaced. But how do you know when it’s time to replace your flooring?
Well, the timing depends on your floors. Tile, hardwood, and carpet, and the different types under each of those, come with different shelf lives. The exact time to replace your flooring hinges on several factors, but here are some ways to know when your flooring has seen better days.
Carpet has a broad range of life expectancy. Lower quality carpets (like those in your college apartment) typically last one to five years, while the highest quality carpet averages 15 to 25 years. The longevity of your carpet also depends on how many people live with you, if you frequently entertain, if you’re prone to spills, etc.
Though a lot of factors determine how long your carpet will actually last, there are signs you can look for to know when it’s time to move forward.
This one is the most obvious, but as a reminder: if stains overtake your carpet (and your carpet isn’t in an area where more near-future spills are inevitable – like a playroom), it’s time to consider new carpeting.
Rips and Tears
Sometimes, your carpet will tell you if it needs replacing. It does this by easily ripping or tearing or by coming undone at the ends.
If something smells off even after you’ve cleaned, it might be your carpet. Sometimes bad smells get deeper than the carpet surface we can clean, and when that happens, it’s time to replace.
With proper care and maintenance, hardwood floors can easily last more than 25 years before even needing major TLC. These floors also have more options than carpet or tile because they can be refinished rather than replaced. If stains cover your floor and you have a few boards that never stop squeaking, you can probably still get by with refinishing. But sometimes, those incredible hardwoods reach the point of no return.
If more than a few of your boards squeak or your floor feels like it shifts more than normal, your floor is probably beyond repair. Their movement makes refinishing processes like sanding and finishing significantly more difficult and makes the results look lackluster.
If your floor slopes, there’s probably an issue beyond refinishing. It most likely points to a structural issue, and to fix that, a large part (or all) of your floor must come up. Your entire house sits on your foundation, and even small issues can turn into something bigger. It’s a good idea to go ahead and at least have someone look at your foundation if your floors slope.
Tile floors have an incredibly long life expectancy – if they’re taken care of. Ceramic tile can easily last 75 to 100 years, while natural stone (like marble or granite) can last well over 100. Tile has the advantage of allowing you to replace a tile or a section if a major stain or break occurs, but that’s assuming someone still makes the tile you need. If your tile has gone out of production, you may have to replace the entire floor.
Whether you’re looking at a single tile, a small section, or an entire floor, here are some things that may indicate it’s time to make a replacement.
Cracks and Chips
A number of things could cause your tile to crack. Common causes include sharp blows (dropping even a heavy pot or pan), heavy loads (like your washer, dryer, or fridge), and more. If only one or two tiles have mild cracks, you can choose not to replace, but if a section cracks for no apparent reason, the foundation could be to blame, and it’s a good idea to have it replaced.
Depending on the joints, adhesives, and other things used in the installation process, your tiles may “tent” – actually come up – a little or even a lot. Unfortunately, if this happens (and it can happen just weeks after installation), you need to replace or redo your tiles.
Sometimes, tiles come loose. It could be from bad adhesive or grout, or it could be a sign of more serious structural issues. Loose tiles pose a danger to people walking over them, so you should replace at least one tile as quickly as possible. If it’s more than one tile, you should have your foundation checked.
Unfortunately, floors aren’t meant to last forever. Whether they’re carpet, hardwood, tile, or something else (like laminate), you could replace your floors because of their looks, their smells, or their deeper issues. If something happens with your floors that could point to foundation problems, make sure to get it checked. Otherwise, whether or not to replace your flooring is really up to you.