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 $1,081 to $2,553, with the national average at $1,817.
- The typical cost for hardwood floor refinishing ranges from $1,098 to $2,598, with a national average cost of $1,828.
- Some of the main factors influencing the project price include the size of the room, the cost of labor, the type of wood, and the refinishing method chosen.
- A home may need its hardwood floor refinished if it has visible dents, scratches, staining, cupping, splintering, or color fading.
- A homeowner with contracting experience may be able to refinish a floor themselves, but having the work done by a professional can lead to a better-looking and longer-lasting result.
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 is between $1,098 and $2,598, with the national average at $1,828. 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, type of wood flooring, and length of time needed to complete the job.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors
Estimating the cost to refinish hardwood floors before getting started 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, and prep work along with 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. The costs can go beyond that for particularly tricky projects. The following table shows the average cost ranges to refinish hardwood floors in various room and home sizes.
|Room or Home Size||Traditional Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost||Dustless Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost|
|100 square feet||$300 to $800||$500 to $800|
|144 square feet||$450 to $1,152||$720 to $1,152|
|256 square feet||$800 to $2,048||$1,280 to $2,048|
|400 square feet||$1,200 to $3,200||$2,000 to $3,200|
|1,000 square feet||$3,000 to $8,000||$5,000 to $8,000|
|2,000 square feet||$6,000 to $16,000||$10,000 to $16,000|
The type of hardwood floors can have an impact on the total refinishing cost. Oak is one of the most popular choices for homeowners because it’s durable and relatively inexpensive to refinish. Many homeowners opt for cherry wood for similar reasons, as well as its tendency to deepen in color over time. Other wood types that can be refinished include parquet, engineered hardwood, pine, maple, mahogany, and bamboo. Each wood type and its average refinishing cost are discussed in more detail in a section below.
Traditional refinishing can cause quite a lot of dust, which can be difficult to get rid of during cleaning. A less messy but slightly 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. Hardwood floor refinishers 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.
On average, sanding hardwood floors can cost between $0.50 and $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 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 applying a topcoat. There are several types of coatings or finishings, each with a different price range as shown in the following table.
|Type of Coating||Average Cost per Gallon|
|Oil-based polyurethane||$20 to $45|
|Water-based polyurethane||$25 to $55|
|Penetrating oil||$40 to $100|
|Acid-cured finish||$50 to $80|
Water- or oil-based polyurethane is applied in even coats. Oil-based polyurethane coating runs from $20 to $45 per gallon. This takes approximately 24 hours to dry and over time will develop an amber hue. Water-based polyurethane coating costs between $25 and $55 per gallon. This coating is clear and will not change over time. It also dries faster than an oil-based one. Homeowners can also choose between a penetrating oil coating for $40 to $100 per gallon and an acid-cured finish for $50 to $80 per gallon. Topcoats are available in matte to high-gloss finishes, and after drying, they may be buffed for additional shine and 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 applying polyurethane to the flooring without the extra cost of sanding. Recoating costs between $1 and $2 per square foot.
Labor costs are usually between $2 and $8 per square foot. The price of labor depends on the amount of prep work the floor needs, the area’s accessibility, the amount of sanding that is needed, and the geographic location of the home. Some contractors may charge for this project on an hourly basis, and homeowners can expect to pay between $60 and $160 per hour. Homeowners can search for “floor refinishing near me” to check local prices.
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.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When homeowners are 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, relocation of furniture, cleaning, and traditional versus dustless refinishing.
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 and water damage may require replacing some planks altogether. Depending on the material, this could cost between $6 and $18 per square foot. Additionally, if the floor dips in places, the homeowner may need to pay a sagging floor repair cost of $300 to $6,500, with the cost depending on the severity of the issue.
For floors with extensive water damage, the subflooring may need to be repaired or replaced. Subflooring repairs can run anywhere from $1.30 to $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. Paying the cost to replace a subfloor is generally much more affordable than paying the cost to replace a subfloor completely.
Carpet Removal and Disposal
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 removal of 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 per room by doing this themselves ahead of time. Another question to consider is whether the contractor will handle the cleaning after the project is completed or if that will fall on the homeowner to attempt using a hardwood floor cleaner.
Hardwood stairs are harder to refinish than floors simply because they have a more complex design. The cost to refinish hardwood stairs can run between $25 and $85 per step, with the project cost higher for a more complex stair design or the presence of spindles.
Screening or Buffing
Rather than fully refinishing the hardwood floors, homeowners can choose to skip the sanding and staining to save money and instead go with screening, or buffing, the floor. This process removes the floor topcoat without damaging the hardwood itself and can be a good option to refresh dingy-looking hardwood floors. Screening costs between $1 and $2.50 per square foot, making it considerably cheaper than refinishing.
Applying polish to hardwood floors can keep them in good condition for longer, which can help homeowners avoid paying for refinishing too often. A gallon of hardwood floor polish typically costs between $20 and $50, and this is a very DIY-friendly project.
Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood
Hardwood refinishing costs are around the same for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring at $3 to $5 per square foot. However, engineered hardwood requires an experienced individual to take on the refinishing project. This is because engineered hardwood is made from a plywood base with a thin layer of hardwood, which means it’s harder to refinish without causing damage. While a handy homeowner may be able to take on some or all of a hardwood refinishing project themselves, it’s recommended that they hire a professional to refinish engineered hardwood flooring.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors by Type of Wood
The type of hardwood floor doesn’t necessarily affect the overall cost of floor refinishing; the process, tools, materials, and length of time the refinishing takes won’t change because of the wood type. Some hardwoods may need special care during sanding, but the overall process is the same. The cost to refinish hardwood floors ranges from $3 to $8 per square foot.
|Type of Wood||Average Refinishing Cost|
|Bamboo||$3 to $6|
|Cherry wood||$3 to $5|
|Engineered hardwood||$3 to $5|
|Mahogany||$6 to $8|
|Maple||$6 to $8|
|Parquet||$3 to $5|
|Pine||$4 to $7|
|Oak||$3 to $5|
The cost to refinish bamboo flooring is typically between $3 and $6 per square foot (slightly less than the cost of bamboo flooring installation). It’s important to sand bamboo flooring at an angle or else the surface could begin to splinter away.
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 that for 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 both 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.
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 hardwood floor refinisher 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 can usually be refinished only one to three times before the veneer becomes too thin.
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 that homeowners hire a professional to refinish this type of flooring so it won’t be damaged. Mahogany gets darker over time as it’s exposed to sunlight, so it may be more difficult to change the color of older mahogany flooring.
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 than lighter-color maple.
The cost to refinish parquet flooring also runs from $3 to $5 per square foot. Homeowners are advised 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.
The cost to refinish pine flooring ranges from $4 to $7 per square foot. Since pine is a softer wood that dents and scratches 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 from other types of wood, so homeowners will need to be careful when choosing a stain color and steer away from dark stains.
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.
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. 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.
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 will want to 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 occurs when hardwood begins to cave in down the middle of each plank. More often than not, this is the result of water damage and is 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.
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.
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.
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 $2,500 to $6,800 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 a new hardwood floor installation to replace the old, damaged material.
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 become 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.
Refinishing is mainly a cosmetic upgrade. Homeowners looking to upgrade less expensive wood floors so they have 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 for homeowners 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, 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, but 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 are advised to keep in mind that sanding and finishing mistakes can be expensive. Homeowners will want to 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 in the first place.
|Drum sander rental||$50 to $80 per day|
|Edger rental||$35 to $45 per day|
|Handheld belt sander||$60 to $100|
|Stains and varnishes||$20 to $360 per gallon|
|Brushes and rollers||$50|
|Plastic sheeting||$12 to $25 per roll|
When homeowners employ a professional to complete the hardwood floor refinishing project, these costs will be wrapped up into the total project amount quoted. Those who attempt to DIY their floor refinishing project may find their costs for materials alone exceeding $1,000. The time and money savings make it well worth it for a homeowner to hire a professional for this project. Homeowners can call the best hardwood floor refinishing companies for a quote or search online for “hardwood floor refinishing near me” for local options.
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 on 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 most times homeowners will get what they pay for. 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.
Questions to Ask About Refinishing Hardwood Floors
Asking a professional the right questions about floor refinishing can help minimize miscommunication, save money, and get homeowners 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 are best for my flooring?
- How do you handle damage that happens during the job?
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 hardwood floor refinishing. However, not all flooring can be refinished. Homeowners are advised to 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 that homeowners refinish their 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, homeowners are advised to 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 will need to 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: Angi, HomeAdvisor (1 and 2), Thumbtack, HomeGuide, Fixr