How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

When the time comes to refinish hardwood flooring, it pays to shop around for the best price. The cost to refinish hardwood floors ranges from $600 to $4,000, with the national average at $1,800.

By Katie Flannery and Evelyn Auer | Updated Aug 19, 2022 3:30 PM

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

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  • Typical Range: $600 to $4,000
  • National Average: $1,800

A home with hardwood floors is modern and welcoming, but hardwood floors can start looking drab after years of wear and tear from kids, pets, and everyday life. Homeowners with dull, scratched, and old-looking hardwood floors may be considering refinishing them to their former state. But how much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors? According to HomeAdvisor and Angi the typical price range to refinish hardwood floors is between $600 and $4,000, with the national average at $1,800. This comes out to $3 to $8 per square foot, including materials and labor. Roughly 80 percent of the cost to refinish hardwood floors comes from labor. The overall cost can vary based on the complexity of the floor refinishing, labor costs, type of wood flooring, and the time needed to complete the job.

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Factors in Calculating the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors Factors in Calculating the Cost

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Calculating the cost to refinish hardwood floors can help homeowners stay on budget. The answer to the question “How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors?” can differ from the national average depending on the size of the hardwood flooring area, location, labor, material costs, prep work, sanding, staining, coating, and finishing.

Room or Home Size

The larger the room where the hardwood floors are located, the more the refinishing project will cost. The average price per square foot to refinish hardwood floors is $3 to $8; that increases to $5 to $8 per square foot for homeowners who choose a dustless refinishing method.

That means a 10-foot by 10-foot bedroom will cost between $300 and $500 to refinish; a 16-foot by 16-foot living room will cost $800 to $1,300; and a 25-foot by 25-foot open living space will cost $1,750 to $2,900. The costs can go beyond that for particularly tricky projects.

Labor

Labor costs are usually between $3 and $8 per square foot. The price of labor depends on how much prep work the floor needs, the area’s accessibility, how much sanding is needed, and the geographic location of the home. Homeowners can search for “floor refinishing near me” to check local prices.

Materials

Materials needed for refinishing hardwood floors include a drum sander, sanding belt, various tools for prep or repair work, vacuums, plastic sheeting, stain, and topcoat. Larger areas will require more stain and topcoat than smaller areas. Costs for materials add up; for instance, to rent a drum sander, homeowners will pay around $50 to $80 a day or $100 to $200 per week. Tools for cleaning and painting will run about $275 in total. Stains and varnishes are sold by the gallon, with the most expensive varnishes costing up to $360 per gallon. When employing a professional to complete the hardwood floor refinishing project, these costs will be wrapped up into the total project amount quoted. Homeowners who attempt to DIY their floor refinishing project may find their costs for materials alone exceeding $1,000.

Room Preparation

Preparing hardwood floors for refinishing involves repairs, replacing wood boards if needed, and cleaning. The extent of the prep work is based on the condition of the hardwood flooring. Floors with extensive damage such as deep scratches and gouges, staining, fading, or water damage will need more prep work and repair, which will increase material and labor costs.

Sanding

On average, sanding hardwood floors can cost between $0.50 to $3 per square foot. Sanding is done with large drum sanders for most of the area and belt sanders around the perimeter. Sanding usually takes several passes to make sure the hardwood flooring is smooth and blemish-free.

Staining

Staining hardwood floors costs between $1 and $3 per square foot. Prices can vary due to the quality and type of stain and the price of labor in the geographic area where the home is located. Low-end stains average $30 per gallon, and high-end stains can go for $100 per gallon or more. Some homeowners may choose to look up how to stain hardwood floors themselves, but inexperienced DIYers may decide to leave the job to a contractor to ensure a professional finish. Either way, each coat will need 24 hours to fully dry before the next layer is applied.

Coating or Finishing

After the hardwood floors have been prepped, sanded, and stained, the final step is a topcoat. Water- or oil-based polyurethane is applied in even coats. Oil-based coating runs from $20 to $40 per gallon. This takes approximately 24 hours to dry and over time will develop an amber hue. Water-based coating costs between $25 and $50 per gallon. This coating is clear and will not change over time. It also dries faster than an oil-based one. Topcoats are available in matte to high-gloss finishes, and after drying, they may be buffed for additional shine and to achieve an even finish.

If the hardwood floor is in relatively good shape and doesn’t have deep scratches or gouges, homeowners may have the option just to recoat the floor. Recoating involves the application of polyurethane to the flooring without the extra cost of sanding. Recoating costs between $1 and $2 per square foot.

Geographic Location

The price of wood floor refinishing can fluctuate depending on a home’s geographic location. Homes situated in urban areas with a high cost of living will have a significantly higher cost when it comes to labor and materials. The same goes for various regions of the country where the cost of living can be drastically different. On the low end, the cost to refinish hardwood floors in Ohio will fall between $1,100 and $2,300, whereas in South Carolina the average range jumps to between $2,250 and $4,300.

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Additional Costs and Considerations

When budgeting for hardwood floor refinishing cost, there are usually additional price factors and considerations. These can include the condition of the floor, repairs, carpet removal, moving furniture, cleaning, and traditional versus dustless refinishing.

Floor Condition

The better the condition of the hardwood floor, the more budget-friendly the project price will be. Floors in poor condition will take more time to prep, repair, and sand, which means additional labor costs. This could be the case if the floor is badly scratched or warped. Some issues like deep stains or water damage may require replacing some planks altogether. Depending on the material, this could cost between $6 and $18 per square foot.

Subfloor Repairs

For floors with extensive water damage, the subflooring may need to be repaired or replaced. Subflooring repairs can run anywhere between $1.30 and $12 per square foot. If the subflooring is loose and squeaky, a contractor can secure it to the joists to eliminate the squeaks. Plywood subfloor is relatively inexpensive to repair at $1.50 per square foot, but a concrete slab is a much pricier fix at $6 to $12 per square foot.

Carpet Removal

Homeowners can expect to pay extra if the hardwood floor is beneath carpeting. A contractor will charge additional fees to remove carpeting before refinishing the hardwood flooring. Removal and disposal of carpeting costs between $0.25 and $1 per square foot, and removing carpeting from stairs can run from $7 to $10 per step.

Furniture Moving and Cleaning Costs

Before hardwood floors can be refinished, everything needs to be moved out of the space, including furniture. Homeowners can ask their contractor if there are extra charges to move furniture out of a room or if it’s included in the estimate. If there are additional charges for this service, homeowners may save $20 to $50 by doing this themselves ahead of time. Another question to consider is asking whether the contractor will handle the cleaning after the project is completed, or if that will fall on the homeowner.

Traditional vs. Dustless Refinishing

Traditional refinishing can cause quite a lot of dust, which can be difficult to get rid of during cleaning. A less messy but more expensive option is dustless refinishing. Dustless refinishing can cost between $5 and $8 per square foot and creates considerably less dust than traditional refinishing. Professionals will attach a vacuum to the sander to collect most of the dust. Dustless refinishing is beneficial to those with allergies or breathing difficulties who cannot have excessive dust in their home for health reasons.

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors Types of Hardwood Floors

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Cost by Type of Hardwood Floor

The type of hardwood floor doesn’t necessarily affect the overall cost of floor refinishing; the process, tools, materials, and how long the refinishing takes won’t change because of 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 most 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 homeowners may want to choose a stain option that highlights rather than detracts from the wood’s natural qualities.

Parquet

The cost to refinish 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 can damage easily. If the parquet floors have an intense sheen or orange tint that the homeowner finds dated or unappealing, refinishing is an excellent way to update the floors and make them look more modern.

Engineered Hardwood

Homeowners can 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.

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 homeowners will need to 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

Homeowners can 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.

Bamboo

The cost to refinish bamboo flooring is typically between $2 and $6 per square foot (slightly less than the cost of bamboo flooring installation). It’s important that bamboo flooring is sanded at an angle or else the surface could begin to splinter away.

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. It will also protect the floor from further damage, which can help homeowners avoid paying the cost for new hardwood floors in the near future. Here are some reasons for homeowners to consider refinishing their hardwood floors.

Visible Dents or Scratches

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 the 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.

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Gray- or Black-Stained Boards

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. Homeowners should keep in mind that if the damage is widespread, some boards may need to be replaced, which will increase the overall cost of refinishing.

Cupping

Cupping is the phenomenon where hardwood begins to cave in down the middle of each plank. More often than not, this is the result of water damage. It’s particularly common in regions that get a lot of humidity. If cupping is caught early, sanding can even out the planks enough to fix the problem.

Splintering

Walking barefoot around the house shouldn’t be dangerous. In homes where splinters have become a problem, the floors have become too worn and the exposed wood is damaged. Refinishing the floor’s surface will buff away the splintered surface and seal it against further damage.

Faded Colors

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 the flooring looks dull and faded, a refinish will help restore the wood’s natural color. Refinishing also allows homeowners to alter the color of the floor if they’re not happy with the wood’s natural hue. For example, if a homeowner doesn’t like the reddish hue of cherry flooring, they can refinish the floor using a different stain color to make the flooring more neutral.

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors Refinishing vs. Replacing

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Refinishing vs. Replacing Hardwood Floors

Homeowners may be wondering whether to refinish or replace their wood floors. Refinishing hardwood floors is more cost-effective than replacing them. On average, it costs about $2,000 to $7,000 to replace hardwood flooring, which is two to three times more than the cost to refinish. It’s a more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice to refinish and take care of the existing hardwood floors rather than replacing them. If the flooring cannot be refinished, then there’s no choice but to call one of the best hardwood flooring installation companies such as Empire Today or LL Flooring and have the floors replaced. Here are some reasons replacement would be needed.

Presence of Water Damage

Extreme water damage due to flooding or burst pipes will compromise the structural integrity of the hardwood floor and the subflooring underneath. Damaged subflooring needs to be replaced, which means ripping up the existing hardwood to access the subfloor. Once the subfloor has been fixed, the homeowner will need to install new hardwood to replace the old, damaged material.

Thinning Boards

Older hardwood floors may have been previously sanded and refinished, or newer engineered hardwood floors may not have enough veneer left. There are only so many times a floor can be refinished before the boards are too thin. If this is the case, replacement is the only option. A professional can tell whether a hardwood floor has enough veneer left to be refinished, or whether it needs to be replaced instead.

Home Renovations

Refinishing is mainly a cosmetic upgrade. Homeowners looking to upgrade less expensive wood floors to something with more durability and better resale value will find that replacement is the way to go. The best flooring companies will have attractive options that will stand the test of time and add value to the home. Replacing the floors also provides the opportunity to add new subflooring or fix constantly squeaking floorboards.

Refinishing Hardwood Floors: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Homeowners who know how to refinish hardwood floors because they have professional contracting experience may choose to DIY this project to save on the cost to refinish hardwood floors. But the job is more complicated than it looks, and most homeowners won’t have the necessary experience to complete the job properly. Refinishing hardwood floors is a time-consuming, messy, and costly job. On average, homeowners can expect to pay from $500 to $1,000 to refinish hardwood floors on their own. The cost to rent a drum floor sander is between $50 and $80 per day or $100 to $200 for a weekend rental. Homeowners will need more than just a drum sander to complete the project. The prices of other materials such as sandpaper, a belt sander, an edger, nails, stain, topcoat, brushes, rollers, safety gear, a shop vacuum, cleaning materials, and more will quickly add up. Homeowners who know how to refinish hardwood floors and are willing to pay for materials may be able to complete the project themselves. But they should keep in mind that sanding and finishing mistakes can be expensive. Homeowners should be prepared to pay two to three times the price to replace the floors after a DIY refinishing mistake than they would have paid a professional to do the refinishing project for them.

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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, homeowners can rip it out on their own. These options don’t take skill, but they do involve time and effort on the part of the homeowner.
  • Get multiple estimates. Choosing the cheapest contractor may save some money, but homeowners will get what they pay for most times. Before hiring, homeowners can read reviews and ask questions to get the price that’s right for their budget.
  • Take care of the cleaning. Many contractors will charge extra for cleaning up after the refinishing job. This is typically something homeowners can do themselves with a mop and one of the best hardwood floor cleaners. Homeowners who don’t mind cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, and mopping up after the project is completed will find that this is a good way to save some cash.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors FAQs

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Questions to Ask About Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Asking a professional the right questions about floor refinishing can help minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. Here are some questions to ask about the cost to refinish hardwood floors.

  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Does the estimate include the cost of moving furniture and cleaning?
  • How long will the refinishing take?
  • Do you offer a warranty?
  • Are you insured and bonded?
  • Do you have any payment plan options?
  • How will you protect my home from all the dust?
  • How soon can I walk on the floor after it’s refinished?
  • What kind of stain and coating is best for my flooring?
  • How do you handle damage that happens during the job?

FAQs

Deciding on the right way to refinish hardwood floors while keeping the cost down can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about the cost to refinish wood floors to help guide homeowners in their decisions.

Q. How long does refinishing hardwood floors take?

It takes approximately 5 hours per 100 square feet of flooring. The flooring condition and the intricacy of the layout also affect how much time it will take.

Q. How much does it cost to refinish 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring?

The cost to refinish 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring averages between $3,000 and $8,000.

Q. Should I refinish or replace my hardwood floor?

On average, new flooring installation costs 50 percent more than the cost to refinish a hardwood floor. However, not all flooring can be refinished. Homeowners should consult a professional to determine whether their floor can be refinished or whether it needs to be completely replaced.

Q. How often should I refinish my hardwood floor?

Hardwood floors start showing their age around 10 years after installation. It’s recommended to refinish floors every 7 to 10 years, depending on the extent of the damage. Hardwood flooring can be refinished between 4 and 10 times, depending on the thickness of the wood. A flooring professional can advise homeowners on the best course of action for their floors.

Q. Does refinishing floors produce a lot of dust?

Yes. Once the project begins, be prepared for a lot of dust. Many contractors offer dustless refinishing with a machine that vacuums up the dust as the floor is refinished. It will take care of most of the dust, but no refinishing process is entirely dust-free. Dustless refinishing also comes with a higher cost than traditional refinishing.

Q. What is the best way to clean hardwood floors?

The best way to clean hardwood floors day to day is to sweep regularly and mop with a cloth pad. For deep stains, homeowners should scrub with steel wool and mineral spirits, then buff with wax. Homeowners who have a lot of hardwood flooring throughout their home might want to invest in one of the best hardwood floor cleaner machines to help keep their floors looking newer for longer.

Q. What are some signs I need to refinish my hardwood floors?

Scratches, stains, discoloration, warping, and splintering are all indications that hardwood floors are in need of refinishing.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, HomeGuide, Fixr

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