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How Much Does It Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Typical Range: $1,074 - $2,482

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Reviewed & Approved on October 2, 2020 by Dan DiClerico, Smart Home Strategist and Home Expert.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors costs $1,750 on average with a typical range between $1,074 and $2,482. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot. For large and complex jobs, you might spend up to $4,000. The more area you have, the lower the square foot price. Adding in closets and other small, enclosed areas makes it a complex job, which increases the price.

the average cost to refinish wood floors is $3 to $8 per square foot

Hardwood floors add warmth and depth to any living space, and they're relatively easy to clean and maintain if they receive the attention they need. Before getting bids, though, homeowners should determine whether they need to refinish or recoat. Recoating simply adds a layer of protection, like varnish, without sanding down any gouges or discolored spots. This protects the floor and gives it an aged look. Refinishing requires sanding, which doubles or triples the price, but gives you a floor that looks almost brand new.

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National Average $1,750
Typical Range $1,074 - $2,482
Low End - High End $600 - $4,000

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 16,630 HomeAdvisor members in .

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs

Hardwood floor refinishing costs anywhere from $3 to $8 per square foot depending on what you need done and the method they employ. Location, accessibility and condition affect the price more than anything. You can also choose between a couple methods, including:

  • Traditional methods tend to run $3 to $6 per square foot, including moving furniture, sanding, recoating and cleanup.
  • Dustless methods tend to run $5 to $8 per square foot. Pros use advanced commercial vacuums to keep all dust from the rest of your home.
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Cost to Sand and Refinish Hardwood Floors

"If you invest in a complete sanding and floor refinishing project, you can go with a completely different color stain. It's a great opportunity to change the look of your floors, for example from dark, warm, and traditional to light, airy, and contemporary." Dan DiClerico, Smart Home Strategist and Home Expert.

Sanding costs $0.50 to $3.00 per square foot to sand hardwood floors. An average 12 x 14 foot room would cost $80 to $500 depending on how many passes it needs and the area you live in.

Regardless of condition, you’ll always want to start by sanding. While staining and even waxing might be doable DIY steps, don’t attempt this part yourself. Inexperience might mean ruining your floor and costing you twice as much to install a new one.

Cost to Stain Hardwood Floors

After sanding, it’ll cost an additional $1 to $3 per square foot to stain your floors. Prices range due to both varying labor rates and the quality of stain you use.

If you like the color of your floors currently, skip this step. It generally requires several applications in addition to sanding or using a steel wool between coats.

Finishing and Coating

Recoating costs $1 to $2 per square foot, quite a bit less than the $3 to $5 per square foot an average refinishing job cost. Recoating skips sanding, saving you hundreds. It’s great for reasonably level floors without too many scratches or gouges in them.

Polyurethane, the most common type of coating, resists nearly everything and can withstand heavy traffic. They come in two types:

  • Oil-based: $20-$40 per gallon. It will turn an amber color over time. takes around 24 hours to dry, and it's easy to fix mistakes along the way with this type of finish.
  • Water-based: $25-$50 per gallon. It will remain clear, keeping the wood the same color over time. Water-based finish dries faster, which can be a bonus if there's a time restriction or deadline.

Less commonly, an acid cured finish leaves an exceptionally tough coating through a two part process. As a bonus, acid cured finishes dry extremely fast, so it's possible to apply two coats in a single day. However, most brands produce a volatile odor that forces you out of your house until it’s done.

Talk to your local contractor to find out which works best for your area and wood type. But first research the different durable hardwood floor finishes before you call.

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Cost to Refinish Wood Floors by Type

You’ll pay somewhere between $1,000 to $4,000 for most hardwood refinishing. The type of hardwood you have doesn’t affect the cost to refinish them. The processes, tools, chemicals and time remain constant across all types of hardwood.

Cost to Refinish Oak Floors

The cost to refinish oak floors doesn’t differ from any other type of hardwood. Oak, cherry and other types of common hardwood floors all cost $3 to $5 per square foot on average to refinish.

Refinishing Engineered Hardwood Floors Cost

Refinishing engineered hardwood costs exactly the same as any other wood floor. However, you can usually only do a light sanding to most with a wear layer of 2 millimeters or less. Higher quality engineered floors with thick wear layers can get a deep sanding to remove gouges.

Do not attempt this DIY. It’s easy to ruin an all-natural hardwood floor. It’s even easier to ruin an engineered hardwood floor with a sander.

Cost to Refinish Parquet Floors

Refinishing parquet floors costs the same as any other type of hardwood floor, or somewhere around $3 to $5 per square foot. You’ll need to use a professional since the grains run different directions, it's a little easier to ruin your parquet floors than a traditional design.

Why Refinish Instead of Replace?

When you look at all the scratches and marks to repair in your hardwood floor, you might think it's easier to replace them rather than taking the time to refinish them. However, there's a lot of benefits to refinishing. These include:

  • Cost: It costs 2 to 3 times more to replace than to refinish. The cost to install a wood floor is about $2,000 to $7,000 more than refinishing.
  • Repairing hardwood floors costs $400 to $1,400. Refinishing can often stave off the need for repairs, saving even more. Even if you must fix it, it’s often still cheaper to fix and refinish than replace.
  • Quality: If it's a high end, natural wood, then you should make it last if you can.

Some situations you’ll need to replace rather than refinish:

  • Water damage & structural integrity: Extreme water damage and subflooring issues require repair and replacement.
  • Environmentally responsible upgrades: If you’re looking to switch to a renewable wood, if the existing floors are ready for replacement. Otherwise, it's more sustainable to preserve existing materials.
  • Too thin: At a certain thickness, it’s impossible to refinish again and you’ll need to replace.
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Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs Per Square Foot

Room SizeSquare FeetAverage Cost
4x1040$200 - $350*
10x10100$300 - $500
12x12144$450 - $750
16x16256$800 - $1,300
20x20400$1,200 - $2,000
24x24576$1,750 - $2,900

*cost ranges for small spaces tend to run high to cover pros overhead, like fuel and insurance, which stay the same regardless of the project size.

Screen or Buffing Hardwood Floors Cost

Buffing, also called screening, tends to cost around $1 to $2.50 per square foot, totaling $200 to $250 to complete a slightly worn room measuring 15x15 feet, or 225 square feet.

Screens are clog resistant sanding disks, and the process of screening removes the floor finish without cutting into the wood itself. This step should only be done on a floor with a non-waxed polyurethane finish floor. Screening can only occur when the floor's finish is worn, scratched or dull, but the wood beneath has not been damaged or stained.

Hardwood Floor Polishing Cost

The average cost of polishing hardwood floors is $100 to $300 and makes a great DIY project. Polishing uses a polish product specially designed for hardwood floors. It’s put on manually with a mop. You can do it yourself for $50 to $100. The product alone runs $20 to $50 for a gallon. You’ll also need a mop, broom and preferably a microfiber flathead dust mop.

If you don’t want to take on the task yourself, find a local flooring pro to polish your floors.

Extra Enhancements

Some of the most common factors that increase the cost of a refinishing project include:

  • Exotic wood: Some exotic woods will have extreme reactions when their moisture levels change, while others can burnish during sanding because of their hardness.
  • Increased square footage: Of course, the more square feet included in a project, the more it will cost. The cost of refinishing an average 15x15 (225 square feet) room is $675 to $1,125, or anywhere from $3 to $5 per square foot.
  • Quality of previous finish: If the finish isn’t good, it’ll have to be completely removed, sanded and redone.
  • Stairs: Refinishing stairs costs extra, generally $25 to $45 per step.
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Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors DIY

If you go the DIY route, you might only pay $500 to $1,000 to refinish the floors. But it’s not a great DIY job. Inexperience with a sander or finishing materials can easily and quickly ruin a hardwood floor. You’ll pay two to three times the price to replace your floors than you would have to hire a professional in the first place.

It comes with many risks and potential hidden costs. For example, sanding a floor multiple times causes it to eventually get too thin for another refinishing. At that point, replace it. You should keep these hazards in mind before you embark on a DIY refinishing.

Cost to Rent a Floor Sander

Floor sander prices vary a bit from place to place, but you can expect to pay around $60 per day. However, it’s easy to ruin a floor without the right experience or training. If you must DIY, consider hiring out for this step.

  • Commercial drum floor sanders cost $50-$80 per day.
  • Expect a full weekend rental for $100-$200.

Other DIY Costs

Besides the obvious sander, you’ll need quite a few other things, listed in the table below.

Tool or MaterialCost
Edger$37 per day rental
Belt sander for hard to reach spots$60 - $100
Sandpaper for both sanders$60
Hand scraper$35
Nail set$10
Varnish application materials: paint roller, roller covers and extension pole$50
Clear varnish$165 - $360
Painter's rags$13 for five pounds
Safety goggles$8
Respirator$30
Claw hammer$25
Mop$12
Shop vacuum$70 - $170
Stain$27 - $40 per gallon
Knee pads$10 per pair
Paintbrush$1 - $5 each
Trash bags$25
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DIY vs. Hire a Hardwood Refinishing Pro

All DIY home improvement projects come with risks, and refinishing wood floors is no exception. If done incorrectly, homeowners could end up gouging their floors, resulting in paying 2 to 3 times what a pro would have charged. Some other risks include:

  • Leaving an inconsistent scratch pattern with the belt sander.
  • Not getting anything out of the floor due to age.
  • Failing to take off the finish enough before starting to sand.
  • Not filling in the cracks between the hardwood.
  • Spending more money than expected on additional repairs or refinishing.

Because of the delicate nature of wood floors and the need to do the project right without making mistakes or causing damage, refinishing hardwood floors is a job that's usually best left to the professionals. Hire a hardwood floor refinisher near you today to get the job done right the first time.

Questions to Ask a Wood Flooring Contractor

Make sure to ask your contractor a few things before hiring them. Make sure to ask:

  • What’s your experience refinishing floors?
  • Do you have references?
  • How many workers will it take to get the job done?
  • Who will be doing the work?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Is moving furniture included or does the homeowner need to do that beforehand?
  • What is the procedure for cleanup of dust and debris?
  • What are the payment conditions?

FAQs

Is it cheaper to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

It’ll cost you an average of half the price to refinish a floor as it would to completely replace them.

How long does it take to sand and refinish a hardwood floor?

It’ll take about 5 hours per 100 square feet of floor to refinish it. It also depends on how complex a layout you have and the current condition.

Can you refinish a floor without sanding?

You cannot refinish a floor correctly without sanding. To do it right, you need to remove all layers of old finish and smooth out the surface in preparation for a new finish. You can, however, recoat a floor that’s in good shape to add a layer of protection to it without sanding first.

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