Refinishing your hardwood floor is a good idea for those seeking a fresh, new look to their flooring without having to pay the price of replacement.
Finishing a hardwood floor includes necessary repairs and preparation of the floor, sanding, staining, and applying the finish.
Contact your local flooring pros to get free estimates on the cost of refinishing your hardwoods.
Average Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors
On average, refinishing a hardware floor costs $1,700, with a typical range of $1,000 to $2,500. Expect to pay between $3 and $8 per square foot of flooring.
A low-end job can cost as low as $600 but may not be done properly or with the best materials. A large, complex job can cost up to $4,000.
Keep in mind that jobs that include small, cramped spaces will cost more per square footage than jobs in larger, open spaces.
The exact cost will depend on many factors including location and the size of the floor, so be sure to talk with your contractor about how much exactly refinishing will cost you.
Factors That Increase Hardwood Floor Finishing Cost
There are some additional features or qualities that will increase the cost of finishing a floor.
For one, if the hardwood floor contains a staircase, expect to pay more than a flat floor, usually between $25 and $50 to refurbish each step.
The size of the floor also affects price per square foot. A smaller floor will cost much more per square foot than a larger floor, because the equipment used in refurbishing a hardwood floor is difficult to maneuver in a small space.
A small bathroom or laundry room may be difficult to refurbish without the help of an expert with specialized equipment, which will cost more.
Also, refinishing a small room will have the same overhead cost as a large room, such as fuel and insurance, hiking up the price for small spaces.
In contrast, a larger room or multiple rooms in one house will likely cost less per square foot because it is less effort for contractors to navigate a larger space.
Overall, though, a larger space will likely be more pricey because of the increased square footage, even if labor costs are lower.
Choosing exotic woods will cost more than simple wood for your hardwood floor. Furthermore, some exotic woods react poorly when their moisture levels change or they burnish when sanded because of their hardness. Dealing with these hard to work with materials will invariably cost more.
Another factor to keep in mind is the quality of the previous finish. If the previous finish was low quality, it may have to be completely removed, sanded, and redone, adding to the cost.
Likewise, if the floor is damaged in any way, it may need to be repaired before it can be refinished.
Most contractors will happily repair the flooring before refinishing but it will likely cost more than hiring a handyman or carpenter.
Also look out for whether cleanup is included in the contract. Refinishing floors is messy, and some contractors may not include it in their initial costs. Be sure to factor in the cost of cleaning up after refinishing if it is not included in the contract.
If the hardwood floor is under other flooring such as carpeting or vinyl, removing the old flooring will cost more. Removing the flooring old yourself, if possible, is a good way to cut down on costs.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors by Room Size
As mentioned above, the price of refinishing a room varies by size. While a larger room has higher square footage and cost more, a smaller room may cost more than you expect because a smaller room is harder to maneuver in and has the same overhead cost as a larger room.
|Room Size||Square Footage||Average Cost||Cost per Square Foot|
|4 x 10||40||$200 – $350||$5 – $8.75|
|10 x 10||100||$300 – $500||$3 – $5|
|12 x 12||144||$450 – $750||$3 – $5|
|20 x 20||400||$1,200 – $2,000||$3 – $5|
|24 x 24||576||$1,750 – $2,900||$3 – $5|
Cost of Hardwood Floor Finishes
Recoating is less costly than refinishing because it skips sanding, so the main cost is only the coating. Compared to refinishing that costs between $3 and $5 per square foot, recoating only costs $1 – $2 per square foot.
Recoating instead of refinishing completely is a good option if your floor does do not have may gauges, scratches, and dents in them.
Polyurethane is the most common type of floor coating. It can withstand heavy floor traffic and is resistant to almost anything. There are two types of polyurethane coating: water-based and oil-based.
Oil-based coating costs between $20 and $40 per gallon. Over time, oil-based coating turns amber. It takes 24 hours to dry and therefore it is easy to fix mistakes along the way.
Water-based coating costs between $25 and $50 per gallon. Unlike oil-based coating, water-based coating is clear and the wood remains the same color. Water-based finish dries faster than oil-based finish, which is good for speed but not the best for fixing mistakes.
Check out our detailed guide to the Best Hardwood Floor Finishes
Cost to Stain Hardwood
After the sanding process, staining a hardwood floor will cost another $1 to $3 per square foot. The price varies depending on labor costs as well as the quality o the stain.
Staining is a good option for those who want a different color to their flooring, but if you are satisfied with your current floor color you do not need to stain it.
Picking a Different Stain Color When Refinishing Hardwoods
If you would like to change up the coloring of your flooring, refinishing is the time to do it. Sanding removes all scratches and dents, as well as all old stains and finishes. After sanding, a new stain color will be applied, so if you want you can choose a new color.
When choosing a new stain color, think about what complements other features in the house, particularly other hardwood. Also, keep away from low-quality wood stains, as they can lead to mold growth or fading.
High-quality stain protects against fading from sunlight and other damage. Expect to pay around $80 per gallon for high-quality stain.
Cost to Refinish Wood Floors by Type
The cost of refinishing wood floors does not vary by type of floor. Refinishing all hardwood costs the same, at around $3 to $5 per square foot. Common hardwood flooring, like oak and cherry, all cost the same.
An engineered hardwood floor costs the same to refinish as any other floor. One thing to note is that engineered hardwood can only be sanded a small amount, with a wear layer of less than two millimeters. It is recommended not to try this DIY, since it is easy to damage engineered hardwood.
Like engineered hardwood, parquet wood is best refinished by a professional since the grains run in different directions, making it more difficult.
Like all other types of hardwood, parquet costs between $3 and $5 per square foot to refinish.
|Wood Type||Average Cost Per Sq.Ft.|
|Oak||$3 – $5|
|Cherry||$3 – $5|
|Engineered Hardwood||$3 – $5|
|Parquet||$3 – $5|
Cost Of DIY Floor Refinishing vs Hiring a Pro
Refinishing a hardwood floor DIY can save you lots of money in labor costs. DIY refinishing can cost as low as $500 and up to only $1,000. However, refinishing a floor is difficult and there are some reasons to leave it up to professionals unless you are experienced in floor refinishing.
Inexperience with a sander can easily lead to extensive flooring damage, so much so that you might need a replacement (which costs much more than hiring a professional). Be sure that the floor has not been sanded too many times already, in which case it cannot be refinished and must be replaced.
If you decide to go the DIY route, you can likely rent the needed sanding machinery from a hardware store. Sanding pads will have to be bought. In total, sanding materials and tools will cost you between $300 and $400.
Keep the time cost of refinishing a floor DIY. While a professional can refinish a 100-foot room in five hours, a DIY refinishing job can take days, depending on your experience.
Also, if you live in a humid climate, drying the finishing and stains can take significant longer, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Make sure to take the proper safety precautions if undertaking hardwood floor refinishing DIY. Wearing proper breathing protection like particle masks will prevent you from inhaling the sawdust, which can be harmful particularly to asthmatics or those with allergies.
Stains and finishes can be briefly toxic if there is not enough air circulation. Be sure to allow the fumes to air out adequately and continue wearing protective masks.
Additionally, many choose to leave their homes for a few days after refinishing in order to allow for the sawdust to settle and the fumes to dissipate. Be sure to keep yourself and household members safe during the refinishing process.
Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors DIY
Some choose to go the DIY route for refinishing their hardwood floor because of the reduced cost, or the appeal of a self-done floor. It is a good project for those with experience in DIY home improvements and can save you thousands of dollars.
Expect the DIY project to cost you between $500 and $1,000 dollars, not including the price of your own labor. For a 275 square foot space, expect to pay around $500 at a minimum.
In terms of costs, the only thing you will have to pay for is materials and equipment. Equipment, particularly for sanding, can usually be rented at hardware stores. Equipment plus sanding pads will likely cost you between $300 and $400.
You will also have to buy the finish, which will cost you between $20 and $50 per gallon, depending on the type of finish. If you want to stain your floor as well, it will cost you between $1 and $3 per square foot.
Cheap stain will cost you around $40, whereas good quality stain will cost you around $80 per gallon but is well worth the price. A gallon of stain will cover around a thousand square feet of flooring.
Protective equipment such as masks will be required, as well as cleaning materials to clean up afterwards.
Don’t forget to factor in the time of your labor into the cost, which will likely take between three to five days.
Here is a table that summarizes the expenses that you will encounter when refinishing a hardwood floor DIY. Some of these items you may already have in your possession, others you will likely have to rent or buy from a hardware store.
|Belt sander (for difficult locations to reach)||$60 – $100|
|Sandpaper for both sanders||$60|
|Clear varnish||$150 – $350|
|Stain||$40 – $80 per gallon|
|Varnish application tools (paint roller, roller covers, extension)||$50|
Dustless vs Sandless Hardwood Floor Refinishing
In recent years, new terms related to the hardwood refinishing process started popping up, such as “dustless refinishing” and “sandless refinishing”.
Flooring companies use these flashy terms to market their services and attract consumers. However, many people find themselves confused, and often use them interchangeably when they request a service.
In reality, dustless vs sandless hardwood floor refinishing are two completely distinct processes. They have very different costs, as well as unique pros & cons.
Lets sort through the confusion and figure out which one of these flooring services best suites your needs.
What Is Dustless Floor Refinishing?
Dustless refinishing is essentially the same process as traditional hardwood refinishing. It is used to restore an old, stained/scratched/damaged hardwood flooring and make it look brand new.
This process involves sanding down the floor up to 3 times to the state of raw hardwood. Then the surface can be stained with the desired color. Lastly, clear coats of finish are applied to complete the job.
The traditional sanding process leaves a lot of dust, which can linger in the air long after the job is complete. To combat this issue, a new “dustless” process has been developed.
When sanding your floors, contractors use a special machine with a vacuum suction tube, which goes straight into a dust containment system, rather than the room.
This machine takes care of most dust, but its important to realize that its practically impossible to make this process 100% dust free.
Pros & Cons of Dustless Refinishing
There are a number of great advantages to dustless hardwood refinishing compared to the traditional process:
– A nearly dust free environment is more healthy and safe for people with allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions.
– There is a lot less clean-up involved after the job is complete.
– You can select a new stain for your floor, giving it a different look than it had before.
– Costs significantly less than installing new hardwoods.
One major disadvantage of this process is that it is not 100% dust-free, no matter what the flooring company may claim in their advertising. Expect to still have some dust that will settle after refinishing is complete.
What Is Sandless Floor Refinishing
Sandless hardwood refinishing on the other hand, involves lightly scoffing the surface, applying an etching chemical to the surface and then applying clear coats of finish. Here, NO major sanding is involved, and it is essentially comparable to the last step of the traditional hardwood refinishing process.
Sandless refinishing is a great option for floors that are still in overall good condition, but are beginning to show signs of wear and tear. By doing sandless refinishing, you can extend the service life and good looks of your hardwood, and put off complete refinishing by another 5-7 years.
The reason why “sandless” and “dustless” floor refinishing processes are often confused and used interchangeably is that there is also very little dust involved.
Pros & Cons Of Sandless Refinishing
The following are major advantages of sandless hardwood flooring refinishing:
– Costs half the price or less compared to traditional refinishing.
– Takes only a day to complete, compared to 3-7 days it takes to complete traditional hardwood refinishing.
– Clean, nearly dust-free procedure.
There are also a number of disadvantages to sandless refinishing:
-The floor cannot be stained: only a clear finish coat can be applied
-If the floor has major scratches, stains and other types of damage, sandless refinishing will not take care of these.
By now it should be apparent that dustless hardwood refinishing will cost significantly more than sandless refinishing.
You will spend an average of $3-5 per square foot for dustless wood floor refinishing.
The price will vary and can be higher than this estimate depending on the types of stains and finishes you are looking to have, any custom work that may be required, etc. You should also expect to pay more to refinish reclaimed hardwood or any other type of custom wood floors.
Prices for sandless floor refinishing can start as low as $1.00 per sq.ft. but on average most people spend between $1-3 per sq.ft.
How Long Will Refinishing Hardwood Floors Take?
Refinishing a hardwood floor takes less than a day when done by a professional and between three to five days DIY. The timing will depend on climate—stain and finish will take longer to dry in more humid climates—and how many coats of finish are needed.
Another aspect to factor into timing is how long you will need to stay off the floor. It is a good rule of thumb to wait at least 24 hours for the finish to dry before stepping on the refinished flooring.
Be sure to walk on the floor with socks rather than shoes for at least 48 hours, as shoes can lead to sole prints on the flooring.
Can You Work On Refinishing Floors In One Room At a Time?
It is generally not a good idea to refinish floors one room at a time if the hardwood floors continue into another room.
If you sand the rooms down at different times, you risk unevenness between the floors. Also, finishing the rooms at different times will lead to an uneven finish appearance and differences in shades and colors between the rooms.
Finishing one room at a time is not a problem if you have different types of wooden flooring in each room, or if you do not mind some unevenness. Another alternative is to add a transition piece between the rooms to cover up the unevenness.
Overall, refinishing hardwood floors one room at a time is not a good plan unless you are prepared to deal with the outcomes.
The best method is to sand all the rooms at the same time, and another day finish all the rooms at the same time. This will ensure the hardwood blends seamlessly together.
Refinishing vs Replacing Hardwood Flooring
It is generally a good idea to refinish a hardwood floor instead of replacing it, if possible.
Firstly, the cost of replacing a hardwood floor is at least two to three times higher than the cost of refinishing it. Replacing a hardwood floor generally will cost $2,000 to $7,000 more than refinishing it costs.
You can use our Flooring Calculator to estimate the cost of installing a new hardwood floor.
Also, refinishing can often push off the need for repairs. Repairs usually cost between $500 and $1,500, which can be put off with a refinishing job. If repairs must be done, it is almost always cheaper to repair and refinish the floor than replace it.
Particularly if the wood is high quality, it is a good idea to get what you paid for it and keep the hardwood flooring for as long as possible.
Refinishing hardwood can also be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than replacing it. But if your floor is ready for replacing, replacing it with renewable wood is an environmentally conscious choice.
Sometimes, though, replacing the hardwood flooring must be done. If the floor has become too thin over time, refinishing will be impossible, and the floor will need replacement. Also, if the floor is water damaged or if there are issues in the structural subflooring, it will need to be replaced.
Things to Consider Before Refinishing Your Floors
There are some factors you will want to think about before starting to refinish your floors.
Firstly, it is important to check the thickness of the hardwood floor, particularly in older houses. As mentioned earlier, if the floor has been refinished multiple times already it may be too thin to refinish again and may require replacement.
Before beginning the sanding process, it is important to have at least ¾’ of hardwood.
The environment in which you live in is also important to keep in mind. If you live in a humid environment year-round, the staining and finishing will take much longer.
If you live somewhere very humid for part of the year, it is best to save refinishing for the dryer and cooler months.
It is also important to remember how messy refinishing a floor is. Sawdust will be everywhere, and the fumes from the staining and finishing are unpleasant at best, and at worst dangerous without proper protective masks.
You may want to consider relocating to a nearby hotel or staying with friends and family during the refinishing.
Benefits Of Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors
Refinishing your hardware floor is a great way to give your house a fresh, new look. The change can do wonders for the feel of the entire home.
This is especially a good idea for those considering selling their home, as refinished hardwood floors will add to the resale value of your home.
If you do not like the look of your floors and are considering replacing or refinishing them, refinishing your floor is by far the cheaper and more sustainable option.
Rather than tearing out the existing flooring and installing completely new hardwood, you can have your existing hardwood looking as good as new for a third of the price.