Floor refinishing cost overview

Variables like how damaged and old your flooring is will alter the scope and cost of your individual refinishing project. However, for planning purposes, it can help to have a ballpark range in mind so you can budget accordingly. We collected estimates from the web’s most trusted remodeling cost sites, which aggregate project quotes from actual homeowners across the U.S.:

Source: HomeAdvisor Average cost to refinish floors professionally: $1,750 Average cost refinish hardwood floors DIY: $500-$1,000 Average cost per square foot: $3-$8 Low and high-end refinishing range: $600-$4,000 Methodology: Over 16,000 self-reporting users collected HomeAdvisor’s cost data for refinishing hardwood floors.

Source: Thumbtack Average cost to refinish floors professionally: $1,500 Average cost per square foot: $3 Low and high-end refinishing range: $450-$4,939 Methodology: Thumbtack tracks and collects professional quotes for projects and used 200,000 professional quotes for refinishing projects in the past year.

Source: HomeGuide Average cost to refinish floors professionally: $1,550 Average cost refinish hardwood floors DIY: $900 Average cost per square foot: $3-$5 Low and high-end refinishing range: $540-$3,118 Methodology: HomeGuide tracks millions of user-submitted project estimates and correlates them with local professional estimates to deliver an accurate national average.

Hardwood Floor Restoration Cost

The cost of restoration depends on the type and extent of floor damage. For instance, if the damage is minimal on a ten sq.ft. surface, the floor may be restored with sanding for $3 to $5.50 per sq.ft., or $30 to $55 in total. However, when the floor has suffered deeper damage or the wood underneath the finish has suffered damage, the cost would be higher. If, for instance, the floor has suffered severe water damage, the whole area and the subfloor 2 would likely need to be replaced. Replacing a floor board comes at the cost of $14 to $32, while repairing it will cost $8 to $32 per sq.ft. Some examples of damage that require hardwood restoration are deeper scratches and gouges, worn off areas on the floor, gray or black areas, or uneven floor boards. Refinishing is mostly used for lighter damage or wear. Restoration is used for deeper damage beyond the current floor finish.

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Room Dimensions

Room dimensions are relevant to the discussion because most flooring contractors charge by the square foot for a refinishing project. To calculate the square footage of the room you intend to refinish you need to measure the length and the width in feet.

When you’re installing a new floor, these measurements help you calculate the amount of flooring you need. When you’re simply refinishing an existing hardwood floor, these measurements help you estimate labor costs.

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.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Some homeowners choose to refinish the hardwood floor on their own. This reduces the cost significantly. However, we recommend hiring a professional to do it. Hardwood floors are gentle, so you risk damaging them heavily and having to replace them, which costs a lot more than refinishing them. You can, however, do a few things to minimize the cost, such as removing the furniture in the room and any decor, paintings, or other elements on the walls.
  • Before settling for one contractor, try to get at least three estimates. This will give you a better idea of the refinishing cost and give you a better selection of services and features.
  • Once the contractor starts working on the refinishing, be prepared for a lot of dust, mess, and a strong odor. You won’t be able to walk on the floor for up to 24 hours after applying the finish. If you’re refinishing the floors in most or all rooms, consider settling in an alternate location.
  • If you live in a humid climate, keep in mind that the floors will take longer to dry.
  • Some older floors have a heavy wax finish that takes longer to remove, which will add to the overall cost of refinishing. Consider the added cost of wax removal if your floors have a heavier wax finish.
  • Check if the contractor you pick has a contractor’s license and insurance that will protect your home in case of any damage.
  • Before hiring a contractor, ask if they have experience with the specific hardwood and type of finish you have in your home or if they have worked on similar projects.
  • Never pay the full price upfront. Instead, pay 30% as an advance payment, 30% when the contractor brings the materials to your home, and the rest after the refinishing is done. Make sure you’re satisfied with the results.
  • If you have furniture in the room, it will need to be removed before starting the refinishing process. You may do it yourself or hire a separate service to do it.
  • You can rent a floor sander for a cost between $50 to $70 per day or $250 to $300 per week.
  • Keep in mind that some exotic woods react in different moisture levels, while others can burnish during sanding.

How Much Stain Do I Need for Hardwood Flooring?

In order to determine how much stain to purchase, take the square footage of the room or floor you intend to stain and divide it by the manufacturer’s coverage estimate. If the can of stain lists a range (e.g. 200 – 300 square feet per gallon), choose a number in the middle or at the bottom of the range. 

Overestimating is better than underestimating, as you will lose some stain in the application process. Drips and spills eat away at your supply of stain. The applicator will also retain some of the stain, whether you’re using a brush, staining pad, or roller.

If you plan to spray on stain, you will lose a significant amount of material to overspray. However, spraying is best for intricate pieces like furniture.

Spraying stain indoors requires covering every surface you don’t want to get stain on. Walls, trim, furniture, even light fixtures it all needs to be protected by plastic sheeting. Plan on 20 – 40% of your stain drifting through the air and settling on the plastic. 

How Much Stain For an 11 x 12 Hardwood Floor? 

The average sized bedroom in the US is 11 feet by 12 feet, or 132 square feet. So, one gallon of stain that covers 200 square feet should be plenty, right? 

Only if you’re not planning for multiple coats. While some stain manufacturers boast of one coat coverage, it’s usually best to plan for two or three coats. 

In the example given above, that means you need enough stain to cover 396 square feet (132 multiplied by three), so one gallon of stain would not be enough. 

If you divide 396 by a conservative estimate of 200 square feet per gallon, you get 1.92. So, to stain hardwood floors in an 11 x 12 bedroom, purchase two gallons of stain. 

Estimating Spray-on Stain Coverage 

Hardwood floors are usually stained using a nap roller. For fast drying and even coverage, paint sprayers are also an option.

As mentioned previously, some of the atomized stain particles will not make it all the way to the floor. Instead, they will be carried away by the air circulating the room. Plan on losing up to 40% of your stain to this overspray. 

To calculate how much stain is needed to spray one coat of stain on the hardwood floors of the same 132 square foot bedroom, increase your estimate 40%. 132 multiplied by 1.4 gives you a total of 182.

Assuming you plan to apply three coats of stain, you would need enough stain to cover 546 square feet. Using the same conservative estimate of 200 square feet per gallon, this project requires 2.73 gallons of stain. You can either purchase two gallons and three quarts of stain, or round up and buy three gallons. 

Since properly stored stain has a long shelf life, it probably makes sense to buy three gallons and keep the stain on hand. 

Related: See how long the popular Minwax stain takes to dry.

Cost to refinish wood floors by type

Refinishing wood floors costs $1,200 to $2,400 for the average home, regardless of wood type. Hardwoods such as pine, bamboo, and parquet require special care while sanding or staining, but the total cost is the same to refinish.

Cost to refinish engineered hardwood

Refinishing engineered hardwood floors costs $2 to $6 per square foot on average. Engineered flooring features a base layer with a solid hardwood wear layer on top. Engineered floors may be sanded and refinished 1 to 5 times, depending on the wear layer’s thickness.

Refinishing engineered hardwood floors
Wear layer thickness Can you refinish? How many times?
Less than 2 mm thick No
2 mm thick Yes 1
3 mm to 4 mm thick Yes 2 – 3
5 mm to 6 mm thick Yes 3 – 5
Acrylic impregnated No
  • Wear layers less than 2 mm thick should not be sanded.
  • Engineered hardwood with acrylic impregnated wear layers cannot be sanded and refinished but may be screened and recoated instead.

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Cost to refinish oak or pine floors

Refinishing oak, cherry, or pine floors costs $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot without staining or $2 to $7 per square foot with staining. Oak is the most common hardwood for flooring. Pine is softer than oak and requires extra care when sanding to prevent grooves or chatter marks in the wood.

Cost to refinish parquet floors

Refinishing parquet floors costs $2 to $6 per square foot, depending on the type of refinishing and if any repairs are needed. Sanding parquet floors requires special care from a professional because the wood grain runs in several directions.

Cost to refinish bamboo floors

Refinishing bamboo floors cost $2 to $6 per square foot, which is cheaper than the cost to install new bamboo flooring at $5 to $10 per square foot. Solid and engineered bamboo floors may be sanded and refinished if the veneer layer is at least 2 mm thick.

Bamboo flooring should be sanded at an angle to the grain on the first pass to reduce the chance of raising splinters.

Can you refinish Bruce hardwood floors?

Bruce hardwood floors may be professionally sanded and refinished 1 to 3 times, depending on the type and thickness. DIY sanding voids the warranty.

Can you refinish Pergo or laminate floors?

Pergo and laminate floors cannot be sanded, refinished, or screened and recoated like solid hardwood. Laminate floors feature a top layer of veneer that is too thin for sanding.

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Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors: Do I Need to Refinish My Hardwood Floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors will eliminate scratches and gouges and reveal the natural warmth and beauty of the wood flooring. If there is water or UV damage to the flooring, a full refinish will restore the luster and shine. Here are some reasons to consider refinishing your hardwood floors.

Dents or Scratches Are Visible

If the flooring is scratched up in multiple areas and has seen better days, it’s time for a refinish. Sanding the floor to a smooth finish is the best way to get your hardwood floor looking like new. Deeper scratches may require some extra repair, and a professional will be able to ensure that the repairs blend seamlessly into the rest of the floor.

Refinishing your floors?Some jobs are better left to the pros. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed flooring contractors near you. Find local pros ++

Boards Are Turning Gray or Black

Even regular cleaning can cause water damage if the protective layer has worn off the hardwood flooring. Water-damaged hardwood flooring will turn gray or black if enough water has soaked into it. The darker the wood is, the more damage it has. Refinishing the floor before the damage gets too extensive will ensure the structural integrity of the flooring. Keep in mind that if the damage is widespread, some boards may need to be replaced.

The Colors Are Fading

Sunlight streaming across a radiant hardwood floor may look appealing, but damaging UV rays can take a toll. Hardwood flooring can fade and become discolored by sunlight. If you notice that your flooring is looking dull and faded, a refinish will help restore the wood’s natural color. Refinishing also allows you to alter the color if you’re not happy with the wood’s natural hue. For example, if you don’t like the reddish hue of cherry flooring, a different color of stain can make the flooring appear more neutral.

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How much does it cost to stain a wood floor?

The national average materials cost to stain a wood floor is $0.33 per square foot, with a range between $0.31 to $0.35. The total price for labor and materials per square foot is $1.21, coming in between $1.10 to $1.31. A typical 300 square foot project costs $362.43, with a range of $331.04 to $393.81.

How much does it cost to sand and refinish 1000 square feet?

Cost per square foot to refinish hardwood floors:

Flooring square footage Average cost
100 – 250 sq. ft. $600
251 – 500 sq. ft. $750
501 – 750 sq. ft. $1,601
751 – 1000 sq. ft. $2,100

4. Consider a Recoat Instead of a Refinish

One final option to save some money is to choose a recoat instead of a refinish. When you recoat your floor, it simply gets buffed with an abrasive pad and then recoated to restore the gloss and sheen. It does not get sanded down, though.

Translation: this is not the best choice if you have scratches, discoloration, or dings you want to fix. But if you just want to restore some shine to the floor, this option might work for you!

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors

Hardwood floor refinishing costs depend on the square footage, layout, location, staining, finish type, number of coats of finish, and local labor costs. Moving furniture, removing wax build-up, removing carpet, or refinishing stairs increases the cost.

Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option - sand,
Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option – sand, stain, and finish vs. buff and recoat – chart

Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option
Option Cost per square foot
Sand and refinish $1.50 – $5.00
Sand, stain, and refinish $2.00 – $7.00
Screen, buff, and recoat $1.00 – $2.50

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Common factors that increase the overall cost to redo wood floors include:

Additional costs to redo hardwood floors
Factor Additional cost
Dustless refinishing $2 – $4 per square foot
Additional coats of finish $0.50 – $1.75 per square foot
Moving furniture $20 – $50 per room
Removing wax build-up $100 – $200 per room
Carpet removal & disposal $0.25 – $1.00 per square foot
Refinishing stairs $25 – $85 per step
Wire-brush finish $2 – $5 per square foot

Cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors

Sanding and refinishing hardwood floors costs $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot for labor and materials. Sanding removes the old finish and the surface layer of the wood to eliminate scratches, dings, and discoloration. After sanding, contractors apply multiple coats of clear finish seal and protect the floor.

Hardwood floor finish types
Finish type Pros and cons
Water-based polyurethane
  • Low odor and low VOCs
  • Durable, smooth, and shiny finish
  • Comes in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss
  • No yellowing
  • Each coat dries in 2 to 4 hours
Oil-based polyurethane
  • Stronger odor and higher VOCs
  • Durable and resists moisture
  • Comes in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss
  • May yellow over time
  • Each coat dries in 8 to 10 hours
Wax finish
  • Little odor and low VOCs
  • Not as durable but easy to touch up
  • Low sheen varnish
  • Yellows or darkens over time
  • Requires multiple coats but dries within a few hours
Acid-cured / Swedish finish
  • Strong odor and very high VOCs
  • Extremely durable
  • Best varnish for exotic wood or parquet floors
  • Difficult to touch up
  • Requires relocating for several days to air out home

Engineered hardwood flooring living room after ref
Engineered hardwood flooring living room after refinishing process

Cost to stain or restain hardwood floors

Restaining hardwood floors costs $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot alone. Sanding, staining, and refinishing wood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot total. Staining is only necessary to change the wood color. Staining requires sanding first, applying two coats of stain, then adding a clear finish.

Check with the contractor to confirm the wood will absorb the stain evenly. Not all hardwood species are suitable for staining.

Wood floor refinishing in bedroom - before and aft
Wood floor refinishing in bedroom – before and after

Cost to whitewash hardwood floors

Whitewashing hardwood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot and requires sanding to remove the old finish and then applying a light wash and clear polyurethane topcoat instead of a darker stain. Whitewashing is also known as pickling.

Never use paint to whitewash a floor. Paint will seep through the cracks between the planks and prevents the polyurethane sealer from adhering to the wood.

Cost to refinish hardwood stairs

Refinishing hardwood stairs costs $25 to $85 per step, depending on the stairway style and if the treads and risers are refinished. Stairways with spindles take longer to sand and are priced at the higher end of the range.

Cost to rip up carpet and refinish hardwood floors

Carpet removal and disposal costs $0.25 to $1.00 per square foot alone, plus $2 to $7 per square foot for hardwood floor refinishing. Removing carpet from stairs adds $7 to $10 per step.

Hardwood floor restoration cost by location

Prices to refinish hardwood floors are higher than the national average in major cities or areas with a high cost of living.

Hardwood floor restoration cost by location
City, State Cost per square foot
Atlanta, GA $2.25 – $6.75
Austin, TX $2.25 – $6.75
Boston, MA $2.75 – $8.25
Chicago, IL $2.30 – $6.90
Denver, CO $2.20 – $6.50
Detroit, MI $2.15 – $6.40
Houston, TX $2.50 – $7.60
Los Angeles, CA $2.20 – $6.50
Miami, FL $2.00 – $6.10
Minneapolis, MN $2.25 – $6.80
Nashville, TN $2.00 – $6.10
New York, NY $2.60 – $7.90
Newark, NJ $2.25 – $6.70
Philadelphia, PA $2.25 – $6.70
Phoenix, AZ $2.10 – $6.20
Pittsburgh, PA $2.15 – $6.40
Portland, OR $2.20 – $6.60
San Diego, CA $2.20 – $6.50
San Francisco, CA $2.55 – $7.60
Seattle, WA $2.25 – $6.70
Washington, D.C. $2.25 – $6.75

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Most of the time, refinishing is the right call when it comes to hardwood floors, simply because of the cost savings. But if your floors have water damage, it’s probably wise to replace them, so you can take a look at the subflooring as well. Damage to the subfloor can cause foundational issues over time, as well as the growth of mold and mildew in your home. And if you’re looking to switch to an environmentally friendly wood, you’ll be faced with replacing your floors as well.

Undergoing a refinishing process on your own can turn out to be a costly endeavor. That’s because it’s easy for things to go wrong if you’re unprepared or underqualified to DIY this process. You may run into potential issues like an inconsistent sanding job, failure to remove enough of the top coat before starting on your project, filling in cracks incorrectly and having to spend more than you initially thought.

Recoating your floor is a great option if there’s little or minimal damage to your floors, and you’re just looking to add a layer of protection to your existing floors. Estimated at $1 to $2 per square foot, this process is quick and simple, and doesn’t require the use of a sander. However, note that dings won’t be removed like they would with a traditional refinishing process, and you can’t change the color of your flooring by recoating. Nevertheless, recoating is an inexpensive way to restore and prolong the life of your floors.

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