How Much Does Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost?

The cost to refinish a floor usually costs $1,000 – $2,500, and the price ranges from $3 to $5 per square foot. Compared to the price of a new hardwood floor, this is a bargain. Let’s examine some factors that impact the cost of refinishing a hardwood floor:

Labor Costs

If you’re using a professional to help you refinish your hardwood floors, keep in mind that your location plays a significant role in determining the cost of labor. You may want to consider using a wood refinishing calculator to help give you a better sense of actual cost for your area.

Labor costs will also depend on the condition of your floors. Wood floors with deep scratches that need a lot of TLC or that cover a wide area typically cost more to refinish. The method matters, as well. Keep in mind that while the dustless method costs more, it also can help you enjoy your new wood floors sooner because it doesn’t take as long to complete. The collection of dust happens during sanding, so professionals spend less time cleaning up afterwards.

Professional Vs. DIY

Your decision whether to call a professional or go the DIY route should take several factors into account. When the condition of your floors is mostly a matter of dirt and grime, going the DIY route can certainly be worth the effort. However, if your wood floors need a full-scale refinishing, you may want to stop and think the DIY process through carefully. Given the complex, messy process — potentially pricey in its right — it may be a smart idea to call on the help of professionals who regularly refinish wood floors.

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Hardwood Refinishing Cost per Square Foot

The average cost homeowners typically pay to refinish hardwood flooring is between $3 and $8 per sq.ft. This cost includes both the materials and labor needed to complete the project. Around 80% of the cost is attributed to labor. The exact cost depends on the time needed to complete the refinishing process and the size of the surface that requires refinishing.

Square FootageAverage Cost100 sq.ft.$300 - $800150

Square FootageAverage Cost
100 sq.ft.$300 – $800
150 sq.ft.$450 – $1,200
200 sq.ft.$600 – $1,600
300 sq.ft.$900 – $2,400
375 sq.ft.$1,125 – $3,000

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The Process of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Below, we’ll outline the steps your professional will take in order to restore your floors to a beautiful shine. These are the same steps you would take if you choose to do this job on your own.

Preparing

Before your floors can be refinished, they’ll need to be fully cleaned and prepared. Contractors will clean and dry your floors, paying special attention to any protruding nails or other objects that could impede the refinishing process. If you have shoe molding, it will likely be removed during this step.

Sanding

Next, your contractor will use a large sanding machine to sand the top layer off of your floor, in preparation for the refinishing. Most homeowners find this part of the process to be the most cumbersome, simply because it’s loud and messy; you can expect a fine layer of dust to cover every surface of your home during this step. When sanding, it’s critical to address every inch of flooring; even right up to the wall, to ensure an even finish once the process is complete.

Staining

After your flooring has been stripped and sanded down, it’s time to apply the stain you’ve chosen. This can be done with a brush or a roller, and is the simplest part of the process.

Top Coating

Finally, a top coat will be applied as a protectant for your floors. This will seal your floors, preventing minor damage, scuffs and water stains.

Cost to resurface or redo hardwood floors

Alternative methods to redo hardwood floors are typically cheaper, but do not remove deep scratches, stains, or discoloration.

Hardwood floor polishing cost

The average cost to polish hardwood floors is $40 to $80 for supplies, plus $50 to $80 per hour to hire a local handyman. Floor polishing is an easy DIY project that restores the wood’s sheen without sanding but will not remove scratches or discoloration.

  • Liquid polish costs $12 to $20 to cover 500 square feet and works best on floors sealed with polyurethane.
  • A sponge mop to spread the polish costs $10 to $30.
  • Flathead microfiber dust mops cost $15 to $30.

Cost to screen or buff and recoat hardwood floors

The cost to screen, buff, and recoat hardwood floors is $1.00 to $2.50 per square foot. Screening uses a thin buffing disc to remove the old finish without sanding the wood beneath. Recoating removes minor scuffs and scratches on the surface and adds a new sheen to dull floors.

Screening and recoating will not get rid of deep scratches, stains, or discoloration.

Hardwood floor refinishing vs. recoating
Floor condition Refinish Recoat
Scuffs and scratches that only penetrate the finish No Yes
Deep scratches that penetrate the wood Yes No
Stains, gray patches, or UV discoloration Yes No
Floors with non-waxed polyurethane finish Yes Yes
Floors with wax finish Yes No
Want to change the wood color Yes No

Screening only works on floors with a non-waxed polyurethane finish. Waxed floors must be sanded and refinished instead of screened.

Sandless floor refinishing cost

Sandless floor refinishing costs $1.50 to $4.00 per square foot. Sandless refinishing uses chemicals to etch the old finish off, followed by a tinted finish that hides scuff marks and restores the wood’s color and sheen. Sandless methods are not effective for floors with scratches, stains, or damage.

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Factors Affecting Cost

In general, for a basic refinishing job, it will take a contractor about four to five hours per 100 square feet of space. A number of factors can affect the overall cost of refinishing:

Size of the floor: Generally, smaller rooms are going to be more expensive to refinish per square foot. This is because the equipment used to sand down a hardwood floor is usually quite large, and it is not easy to get it into or maneuver it through tight areas. Some small bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms may be too small to refinish at all without the help of a specialist with the necessary equipment. On the other hand, you can often get a discount on a project to refinish a larger space or multiple rooms on the same visit. Larger projects represent more money for less effort to contractors, and so they are usually willing to offer discounts to secure these jobs.

Local labor costs: In general, contracting companies located in large metropolitan areas are going to charge more for a hardwood refinishing project, mostly because the demand for their services is higher. There can also be a purely regional factor at work; for example, labor in the Northeast is often more expensive than it is in the South.

Company skill: Sometimes, you will be able to find companies offering hardwood refinishing services at extremely low prices. Unfortunately, you usually get exactly what you pay for, and bargain-basement offers may lead to shoddy work or jobs that take longer than they should. Repairs to these mistakes can end up costing more than the original project.

Moving furniture: The room you refinish will need to be cleared of any furniture or furnishings before starting the project. This is generally not included in the estimate for a project, and if the contractors have to take care of this themselves, they may charge a premium for the service. This can not only prolong the project but can also inflate the cost. You may be able to save money by doing the furniture-moving yourself.

Removing carpet or other flooring: If the hardwood you want to have refinished is beneath old carpet, vinyl flooring, or another material, the refinishing contractor will charge extra to remove it for you. Make sure you get an estimate on those costs. You will likely find that doing this work yourself is a good way to save money.

Repairs: If a floor is damaged beyond a certain point, refinishing it won't be effective. In this case, the floor will need to be repaired before it can be refinished. Most refinishers will gladly do this work but for an additional fee that may be higher than that charged by a handyman or carpenter. The better the structural condition of the floor, the more cost-effective the refinishing job will be.

Cleanup: Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a messy process, and unless the cleanup is specified in the contractor's bid, you may need to factor in the cost of a cleaning service when determining the total expense of the project.

How to Save Money on the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

The cost to refinish hardwood floors can be pricey, and the additional costs associated with the project can quickly add up. One way to save money on the cost of hardwood floor refinishing is to find the least expensive contractor, but there are other ways to save money without compromising quality.

  • Do the prep work. Clear all furniture and personal objects out of the room to save on labor costs. If the hardwood flooring is under carpeting, rip it out on your own. These options don’t take skill, but it involves time and effort on your part.
  • Get multiple estimates. Choosing the cheapest contractor may save some money, but you get what you pay for most times. Read reviews and ask questions to get the price that’s right for you and your home.
  • Take care of the cleaning. Many contractors will charge extra for cleaning up after the refinishing job. If you don’t mind cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping up after the project is completed, this is a good way to save some cash.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring comes in two varieties: solid hardwood, which consists of the same wood from top to bottom, and engineered hardwood, a laminated product in which a relatively thin layer of solid hardwood is bonded over a layer of less expensive sheet material, usually plywood or some form of particleboard.

Engineered hardwood can still be sanded, but you’ll need to take care not to grind down through the surface layer into the core. Generally, you’ll be able to refinish engineered hardwood only once or twice before the core layers are exposed. By contrast, you can refinish most solid hardwood floors several times over the course of their life. However, eventually, even solid hardwood is going to wear down to the point where it’s too thin to be sanded again safely.

Cost to Stain Hardwood Floors

Staining is often done before applying the final topcoat, but it’s not required in all hardwood refinishing projects. If you opt to stain your hardwood floors, it will add $1 to $3 per sq.ft. to the project cost. Staining is typically done if you want to achieve a different color from the original wood color. It needs to dry completely before applying the finish, which takes about a day.

Types of Hardwood Floors

The type of hardwood floor doesn’t affect the overall cost of floor refinishing; the process, tools, materials, and how long the refinishing takes won’t change due to the wood type. Some hardwoods may need special care when sanding, but the overall process is the same. The cost to refinish hardwood floors ranges from $3 to $8 per square foot.

Oak

The cost to refinish oak flooring is between $3 and $5 per square foot. Oak is also a very common flooring hardwood, and contractors will have experience with refinishing this material. Oak is durable and can withstand a lot of foot traffic, so there’s little to no need for extra care when refinishing this type of flooring.

Cherry Wood

Cherry hardwood floors cost between $3 and $5 per square foot to refinish. They are one of the most common types of hardwood floors, and the process is similar to refinishing oak floors: sanding, cleaning, staining, and sealing. Cherry has a naturally smoother texture than other types of wood, so it refinishes particularly well. Cherry wood flooring has a distinctive color and deepens in color and patina over time, so you may want to choose a stain option that highlights rather than detracts from the wood’s natural qualities.

Parquet

Refinishing parquet flooring also runs from $3 to $5 per square foot. It’s recommended to hire a professional to refinish this style of flooring since the wood grain runs in different directions, and it can damage easily. If your parquet floors have an intense sheen or orange tint that you find dated or unappealing, refinishing is an excellent way to update the floors and make them look more modern.

Engineered Hardwood

Expect to pay around $3 to $5 to refinish engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood consists of a thin layer of real wood on top of plywood. Because of this, it takes a professional to properly sand engineered hardwood since only a thin layer can be sanded off. Any sanding mistakes resulting from a DIY project will ruin the flooring. Engineered hardwood may only be able to be refinished one to three times before the veneer becomes too thin.

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Pine

The cost to refinish pine flooring ranges from $4 to $7 per square foot. Since pine is a softer wood that dents and scratches more easily, the contractor needs to be careful with the sanding process and vary the grit depending on the condition of the floor, which means a slightly higher price. Pine also absorbs stain differently than other types of wood, so be careful when choosing a stain color and steer away from dark stains.

Maple

Maple floor refinishing costs can average between $6 and $8 per square foot. Since maple is a durable, higher-end material, it takes more effort to sand and more time for the stain to sink into the wood. Staining maple a darker color makes it more susceptible to visible stains as compared to a lighter color.

Mahogany

Expect to pay between $6 and $8 per square foot to refinish mahogany floors. Mahogany flooring needs more time for sanding to avoid damage to the darker wood color. It’s recommended to hire a professional to refinish mahogany flooring so it won’t be damaged. Mahogany flooring gets darker over time as it’s exposed to sunlight, so it may be more difficult to change the color of older mahogany flooring.

The Best Carpet for Basements: Your 2022 Guide

Have you been thinking about carpeting your basement? Wondering what’s the best carpet for basements? That’s reasonable! You need to be sure that you aren’t wasting money with a basement carpet that might get ruined quickly. We’re all familiar with how musty basements can get. Even nice, finished basements can be prone to dampness after a hard rain. The best basement flooring has to be able to handle some amount of moisture.

Questions to Ask Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Are There Parts of My Floor That Are Too Damaged to Refinish?

If refinishing won’t fix certain parts of your floor, you’ll want to know that up front. Ask your contractor to point out the spots that are concerning.

How Extensive Are My Necessary Repairs?

Different problems, such as scratches or holes, co

Different problems, such as scratches or holes, cost different amounts to repair. Have your contractor create an itemized list of all your repairs so that you can understand the total cost of fixes before refinishing.

What Kind of Stain Is Best for My Floors?

Before launching into any big home improvement project, you need to know what options best suit your specific house and style. Which works better for your home: An oil-based poly with a satin finish? An espresso-colored stain? A natural look and feel?

Do some research of your own, but also talk to a refinishing expert to understand all of your choices.

How Long Will the Refinishing Project Take?

This answer will depend on the weather conditions in your area, the number of coats needed, and whether or not color will be added. Typically, each refinishing coat takes at least a few hours, if not a day or two.

Is This Contractor Bonded and Insured?

It doesn’t matter how low the cost of refinishing hardwood floors is if the contractor doesn’t have the right certifications. When a contractor is “bonded,” you’re financially protected if the job is done poorly or left unfinished. Their insurance covers any liability claims that may arise when they’re working in your home.

What Is the Required Deposit Upfront?

Although a hardwood floor refinishing cost estimate is helpful, it’s not effective if it doesn’t include fees like a required deposit. Ask for those before committing to a contractor.

What Are the Total Cost of Furniture, Old Flooring, and Debris Removal?

The costs of furniture removal and cleanup are a big part of your entire refinishing price. Ensure you have these fees listed out before you agree to start any refinishing project.

Save on New Floor Installation Costs

Refinishing an existing hardwood floor is much less expensive than installing a new one. This is great news for homeowners because even if you have grown to strongly dislike the look of the wood, you can usually choose a different color of stain to get a completely new look.

For example, you can refinish golden oak hardwood with a walnut stain to achieve a more modern, dark floor. Note that it might be more difficult to go from a darker stain to a lighter color when refinishing.

The Benefits of Refinishing a Hardwood Floor Instead of Replacing It

It’s More Environmentally Friendly

As environmentally friendly flooring becomes more and more important to homeowners, it’s important to point out one big benefit of refinishing instead of replacing: it saves products from going to the dump! There’s no better sustainable wood flooring option than one that’s already in your home

It Allows You to Change The Way Your Floors Look on a Budget

Another great perk of refinishing is the ability to change the look of the floor. You can choose different wood floor colors to match your personal style and decor—though as we said, some wood flooring types are easier to stain than others. 

Either way, it’s a great way to change the look of

Either way, it’s a great way to change the look of a room without having to pay to replace your entire floor!

You Can Swap Out Damaged Planks

Sometimes, even the best hardwood floors suffer some damage. The great news is that you can swap out damaged boards with ease during the refinish process—because you can match the new boards to the rest of the floor when you restain! But the biggest question is…

Cost to Strip and Refinish Wood Floors (Screen and Recoat)

To screen a floor is to remove scratches in the polyurethane coat without reaching the wood. A fresh coat of polyurethane is then applied. Screens are mesh material coated in abrasives, so similar to sandpaper. Screening is also called buffing because a mechanical buffer is used. The process is called “screen and coat” and “buff and coat.”

  • Professional cost to screen and coat hardwood flooring: $1.15-$2.25 per square foot.
  • When to screen and coat hardwood: This method is ideal when only the polyurethane that protects the flooring has been marred but the underlying hardwood is in good condition. Pros recommend screening and coating the floor every 3-5 years or as needed to prevent damage to the hardwood and delay the need for refinishing.
  • How to screen and coat hardwood: The room is cleared before being screened using a mechanical buffer (most common) or by hand. The floor is vacuumed and then tacked, the process of removing remaining fine dust particles using a damp microfiber cloth. Finally, one coat of polyurethane is applied.

Hiring a professional hardwood flooring contractor

  • Get at least three free quotes in-person from flooring pros to compare.
  • Search for licensed contractors with hardwood floor refinishing experience.
  • For exotic hardwood floors, look for professionals with experience refinishing that species of wood.
  • Look at their reviews on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for longer than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

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