In this week, I was following the news of the Grenfell tower and I mostly heard the verb "refurbish" being used. That triggered my curiosity to know why this verb is getting used more than "renovate".

I am wondering if there's any significant difference between refurbish and renovate?

Is there any difference between these two verbs?

More info

I googled the difference, but the pages do not say completely similar things. For instance, you can read these references [wikidiff], [hinative], and [wordreference].


This may be idiomatic or specific to American English, in which case it might not apply to the news you're seeing. But I would almost always use "refurbish" for a piece of furniture or equipment - something moveable. I would use "renovate" exclusively with a building or structure.

I would buy a recently refurbished laptop or couch.

I would buy a recently renovated house or apartment.

I don't think it's wrong to say the apartment has been refurbished; it's probably technically correct, but it sounds off to my ear.

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  • In the UK (south) i rarely hear 'renovate' and I would consider it an American term. When people are having building work done in their house I generally hear things like: (a) I'm having some building work done (b) I've got builders in (c) I'm getting a kitchen/bathroom put in (d) I'm building an extension, etc. For large office buildings I hear things like: (a) They're doing it up (b) They're redoing all the inside. I don't think i've heard 'refurbish' in the context of interior building work either, though. – Michael Parker Dec 30 '19 at 1:47

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