What Is the 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 $1,074 to $2,485, with the national average at $1,757.
- Typical Range: $1,074 to $2,485
- National Average: $1,757
If your hardwood floors are dull, scratched, and looking old, it’s probably time to refinish them. According to HomeAdvisor, the typical price range to refinish hardwood floors is between $1,074 and $2,485, with the national average at $1,757. 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 due to the complexity of the floor refinishing, labor costs, the type of wood flooring, and the time needed to complete the job.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors
Calculating the cost to refinish hardwood floors will help you stay on budget. Prices can differ from the national average due to the size of the hardwood flooring area, location, labor, material costs, prep work, sanding, staining, coating, and finishing.
Size of Room or Home
The more square footage for the project, the more it will cost. A 15-foot by 15-foot room (225 square feet) will cost between $675 to $1,125, or $3 to $5 per square foot.
The price of hardwood floor refinishing can fluctuate due to location. If you live in an urban area with a high cost of living, the price of labor folded into the overall cost will be significantly higher.
Labor costs are usually between $2 and $5 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 your home.
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.
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.
On average, sanding hardwood floors can cost between $.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 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 your area. Low-end stains average $30 per gallon, and high-end ones can go for $100 per gallon. Prepare to wait up to 24 hours between stain applications.
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. It 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 your hardwood floor is in relatively good shape and doesn’t have deep scratches or gouges, there is 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.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When budgeting to cover the cost to refinish hardwood floors, there are usually additional price factors and considerations. These can include the condition of the floor, repairs, carpet removal, moving furniture, cleaning, and traditional vs. 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.
If your floor has extensive water damage, the subflooring may need to be repaired or replaced. Subflooring repairs can run up to $7 per square foot. If the subflooring is loose and squeaky, a contractor can secure it to the joists to eliminate the squeaks.
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 costs between $.25 and $1 per square foot, and removing carpeting from stairs can run from $7 to $10 per step.
Moving Furniture and Cleaning
Before hardwood floors can be refinished, everything needs to be moved out of the space, including furniture. Ask your contractor if there are extra charges to move furniture out of a room or if it’s included in the estimate. Also, consider asking if they handle the cleaning after the project is completed.
Traditional vs. Dustless Refinishing
A 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Refinishing vs. Replacing Hardwood 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 (two to three times more than to refinish). It’s a more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice to refinish and take care of the hardwood floors you already have instead of replacing them. If the flooring cannot be refinished, then there’s no choice but to replace it. Here are some reasons replacement would be needed.
There’s Water Damage, or Structural Integrity Has Been Compromised
Extreme water damage due to flooding or burst pipes will compromise the structural integrity of the hardwood floor and the subflooring underneath. Or if your home has been the victim of a termite infestation, the flooring may be unstable or too damaged to be refinished. If the flooring is unsafe, repairs and replacement will be needed.
The Boards Are Too Thin
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.
You’re Upgrading Your Floors
Refinishing is mainly a cosmetic upgrade. If you’re looking to upgrade less expensive wood floors to something with more durability and better resale value, replacement is the way to go. Replacing the floors also provides the opportunity to add a new subflooring or fix constantly squeaking floorboards.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
It may be tempting to DIY this project to save on the cost to refinish hardwood floors, but it’s more complicated than it looks. Refinishing hardwood floors is a time-consuming, messy, and costly job. On average, expect to pay from $500 to $1,000 to refinish hardwood floors on your own. The cost to rent a drum floor sander is between $50 and $80 per day or $100 to $200 for a weekend rental. You’ll need more than just a drum sander to complete the project. The prices of other materials such as sandpaper, belt sander, edger, nails, stain, topcoat, brushes, rollers, safety gear, shop vacuum, cleaning materials, and more will quickly add up. Keep in mind that sanding and finishing mistakes can be expensive. Prepare to pay two to three times the price to replace the floors than you would have paid a professional to do the refinishing project for you.
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.
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?
- What are the 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?
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 hardwood floors to help guide you in your 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 to $8,000.
Q. Should I refinish or replace my hardwood floor?
On average, it costs 50 percent less to refinish than replace a hardwood floor.
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.
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.