Content of the material
- What Exactly Does it Mean to Refinish Hardwood Floors?
- Traditional vs. Dustless Hardwood Refinishing
- Refinishing vs. Resurfacing Hardwood Floors
- Factors That Affect Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost
- Size of Space
- Average cost to refinish hardwood floors
- Cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors
- Cost to stain or restain hardwood floors
- Cost to whitewash hardwood floors
- Cost to refinish hardwood stairs
- Cost to rip up carpet and refinish hardwood floors
- Hardwood floor restoration cost by location
- Finishing and Coating Cost
- Additional Considerations and Costs
- 4 Tips for Saving Some Cash on The Cost to Refinish Wood Flooring
- 1. Do Your Own Prep Work
- 2. Be Smart When Picking Your Contractor
- 3. Take Care of the Clean Up Yourself
- Labor Costs
- Professional Vs. DIY
- Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors by Finish Type
- Oil-Based Polyurethane
- Water-Based Polyurethane
- Cost to Wax Hardwood Floors
- Penetrating Oil Finish for Wood
- Swedish Finish Hardwood Floor Care
- Hard Wax Oil for Wood Floors
- Prep Your Home
- Recent Posts
- Cost to refinish wood floors by type
- Cost to refinish engineered hardwood
- Cost to refinish oak or pine floors
- Cost to refinish parquet floors
- Cost to refinish bamboo floors
- Can you refinish Bruce hardwood floors?
- Can you refinish Pergo or laminate floors?
- Floor refinishing project: A real-life cost example
What Exactly Does it Mean to Refinish Hardwood Floors?
Imagine having the power to erase years of scratches and scuffs from your floors, making them look brand new. That’s refinishing, friend!
Essentially, the process involves sanding off a super-thin layer from the top of your floor and then slapping a new layer of finish on it. That’s about it!
Traditional vs. Dustless Hardwood Refinishing
There are two methods for refinishing hardwood floors. They have the exact same effect on your flooring, but one method involves a high-powered vacuum that’s connected to the sanding tool—making it the process “dustless”.
In truth, no refinish is completely dust-free. However, the dustless sanders do make a significant difference, especially for people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues.
Is the cost to refinish hardwood flooring higher for dustless options? Generally, yes—because it involves a more specialized sanding machine. We’ll talk about that in more detail further down, though.
Refinishing vs. Resurfacing Hardwood Floors
One more important note: refinishing and resurfacing are not the same thing. Refinishing involves sanding off a finish, all the way down to bare wood, and then adding a new finish.
Resurfacing, on the other hand, involves screening (a process of using a mild abrasive on the surface of a finish) and then adding a new bit of finish on top of that.
Here’s what you need to remember: if you have an older floor, or one that you finished on-site, you’ll need to refinish it to get out any scratches. But if you have a prefinished hardwood floor (one with a factory finish), you’ll most likely only need to resurface it, since those factory finishes are so much more durable.
And resurfacing is, of course, less expensive.
Factors That Affect Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost
We’ll get to actual dollar signs – but first, we need to address the numerous factors that impact the overall price of a hardwood refinishing project.
The first element in the cost of refinishing hardwood floors is the amount of furniture that needs to be moved. Unless you’re clearing the rooms on your own, the contractor will likely charge at least $30/room to remove the furniture and put it back.
Preparations also include removing baseboards before the cleaning, sanding, and staining. Expect to pay at least $70 to remove each board and the same amount for the contract to put them back on.
The next refinishing costs to prepare for are the prices of necessary repairs. Do you have deep scratches? Holes that need to be filled? Spots that are majorly discolored?
All of these issues will need to be fixed before the refinishing, and that will cost anywhere from $25 to $100 per problem.
Size of Space
Next comes the square footage of the floors that need to be refinished. The bigger space, the more time (and money) it will take to get the job done.
Expect to pay at least $1.50 per square foot, if not up to $4.
Average cost to refinish hardwood floors
Hardwood floor refinishing costs depend on the square footage, layout, location, staining, finish type, number of coats of finish, and local labor costs. Moving furniture, removing wax build-up, removing carpet, or refinishing stairs increases the cost.
|Option||Cost per square foot|
|Sand and refinish||$1.50 – $5.00|
|Sand, stain, and refinish||$2.00 – $7.00|
|Screen, buff, and recoat||$1.00 – $2.50|
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Common factors that increase the overall cost to redo wood floors include:
|Dustless refinishing||$2 – $4 per square foot|
|Additional coats of finish||$0.50 – $1.75 per square foot|
|Moving furniture||$20 – $50 per room|
|Removing wax build-up||$100 – $200 per room|
|Carpet removal & disposal||$0.25 – $1.00 per square foot|
|Refinishing stairs||$25 – $85 per step|
|Wire-brush finish||$2 – $5 per square foot|
Cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors
Sanding and refinishing hardwood floors costs $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot for labor and materials. Sanding removes the old finish and the surface layer of the wood to eliminate scratches, dings, and discoloration. After sanding, contractors apply multiple coats of clear finish seal and protect the floor.
|Finish type||Pros and cons|
|Water-based polyurethane|| |
|Oil-based polyurethane|| |
|Wax finish|| |
|Acid-cured / Swedish finish|| |
Cost to stain or restain hardwood floors
Restaining hardwood floors costs $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot alone. Sanding, staining, and refinishing wood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot total. Staining is only necessary to change the wood color. Staining requires sanding first, applying two coats of stain, then adding a clear finish.
Check with the contractor to confirm the wood will absorb the stain evenly. Not all hardwood species are suitable for staining.
Cost to whitewash hardwood floors
Whitewashing hardwood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot and requires sanding to remove the old finish and then applying a light wash and clear polyurethane topcoat instead of a darker stain. Whitewashing is also known as pickling.
Never use paint to whitewash a floor. Paint will seep through the cracks between the planks and prevents the polyurethane sealer from adhering to the wood.
Cost to refinish hardwood stairs
Refinishing hardwood stairs costs $25 to $85 per step, depending on the stairway style and if the treads and risers are refinished. Stairways with spindles take longer to sand and are priced at the higher end of the range.
Cost to rip up carpet and refinish hardwood floors
Carpet removal and disposal costs $0.25 to $1.00 per square foot alone, plus $2 to $7 per square foot for hardwood floor refinishing. Removing carpet from stairs adds $7 to $10 per step.
Hardwood floor restoration cost by location
Prices to refinish hardwood floors are higher than the national average in major cities or areas with a high cost of living.
|City, State||Cost per square foot|
|Atlanta, GA||$2.25 – $6.75|
|Austin, TX||$2.25 – $6.75|
|Boston, MA||$2.75 – $8.25|
|Chicago, IL||$2.30 – $6.90|
|Denver, CO||$2.20 – $6.50|
|Detroit, MI||$2.15 – $6.40|
|Houston, TX||$2.50 – $7.60|
|Los Angeles, CA||$2.20 – $6.50|
|Miami, FL||$2.00 – $6.10|
|Minneapolis, MN||$2.25 – $6.80|
|Nashville, TN||$2.00 – $6.10|
|New York, NY||$2.60 – $7.90|
|Newark, NJ||$2.25 – $6.70|
|Philadelphia, PA||$2.25 – $6.70|
|Phoenix, AZ||$2.10 – $6.20|
|Pittsburgh, PA||$2.15 – $6.40|
|Portland, OR||$2.20 – $6.60|
|San Diego, CA||$2.20 – $6.50|
|San Francisco, CA||$2.55 – $7.60|
|Seattle, WA||$2.25 – $6.70|
|Washington, D.C.||$2.25 – $6.75|
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Finishing and Coating Cost
Recoating will cost you $1-$2 per square foot, which is quite less than refinishing. A major benefit of recoating is that you can skip sanding, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Recoating is suitable for floors with minimal scratches and gouges. Expect to pay $20-$40 per gallon for an oil-based coating. Homeowners who use a water-based coating usually pay between $25 and $50per gallon.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Some homeowners choose to refinish the hardwood floor on their own. This reduces the cost significantly. However, we recommend hiring a professional to do it. Hardwood floors are gentle, so you risk damaging them heavily and having to replace them, which costs a lot more than refinishing them. You can, however, do a few things to minimize the cost, such as removing the furniture in the room and any decor, paintings, or other elements on the walls.
- Before settling for one contractor, try to get at least three estimates. This will give you a better idea of the refinishing cost and give you a better selection of services and features.
- Once the contractor starts working on the refinishing, be prepared for a lot of dust, mess, and a strong odor. You won’t be able to walk on the floor for up to 24 hours after applying the finish. If you’re refinishing the floors in most or all rooms, consider settling in an alternate location.
- If you live in a humid climate, keep in mind that the floors will take longer to dry.
- Some older floors have a heavy wax finish that takes longer to remove, which will add to the overall cost of refinishing. Consider the added cost of wax removal if your floors have a heavier wax finish.
- Check if the contractor you pick has a contractor’s license and insurance that will protect your home in case of any damage.
- Before hiring a contractor, ask if they have experience with the specific hardwood and type of finish you have in your home or if they have worked on similar projects.
- Never pay the full price upfront. Instead, pay 30% as an advance payment, 30% when the contractor brings the materials to your home, and the rest after the refinishing is done. Make sure you’re satisfied with the results.
- If you have furniture in the room, it will need to be removed before starting the refinishing process. You may do it yourself or hire a separate service to do it.
- You can rent a floor sander for a cost between $50 to $70 per day or $250 to $300 per week.
- Keep in mind that some exotic woods react in different moisture levels, while others can burnish during sanding.
4 Tips for Saving Some Cash on The Cost to Refinish Wood Flooring
1. Do Your Own Prep Work
Even if you aren’t super handy, prep work is pretty simple—it just requires some muscle. Each room needs to be completely cleared out, including all furniture and personal objects. Doing this yourself will save you some money.
If you need to pull up carpet that’s on top of an existing hardwood surface, you can do so yourself and save. Most old houses don’t have low-VOC flooring installed, though, so make sure to wear a mask, gloves, and goggles to protect yourself when pulling up any types of flooring.
2. Be Smart When Picking Your Contractor
Make sure to read reviews of different flooring stores and ask questions about their work! It’s common to find a range of prices in your local market for labor. Maybe you’re looking for someone that focuses on eco-friendly flooring and practices, or maybe you want a small company that is local and has the best reviews. Everyone is different, so have a few questions ready.
3. Take Care of the Clean Up Yourself
Refinishing hardwood floors is a messy process. If you’re OK cleaning dust off your surfaces, you’ll be able to save some money on the cleanup.
If you’re using a professional to help you refinish your hardwood floors, keep in mind that your location plays a significant role in determining the cost of labor. You may want to consider using a wood refinishing calculator to help give you a better sense of actual cost for your area.
Labor costs will also depend on the condition of your floors. Wood floors with deep scratches that need a lot of TLC or that cover a wide area typically cost more to refinish. The method matters, as well. Keep in mind that while the dustless method costs more, it also can help you enjoy your new wood floors sooner because it doesn’t take as long to complete. The collection of dust happens during sanding, so professionals spend less time cleaning up afterwards.
Professional Vs. DIY
Your decision whether to call a professional or go the DIY route should take several factors into account. When the condition of your floors is mostly a matter of dirt and grime, going the DIY route can certainly be worth the effort. However, if your wood floors need a full-scale refinishing, you may want to stop and think the DIY process through carefully. Given the complex, messy process — potentially pricey in its right — it may be a smart idea to call on the help of professionals who regularly refinish wood floors.
Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors by Finish Type
Most finish types are sold in one-gallon buckets for $20 to $550 per gallon. Each product covers a different surface size, meaning the finish can be used several times before you have to purchase another package. The type of finish you select determines the look your hardwood floors will have. They may be satin, matte, glossy, or another shade that gives the floor a smooth, shiny, or textured look.
|Finish Type||Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
|Oil-Based Polyurethane||$20 – $50|
|Water-Based Polyurethane||$30 – $55|
|Wax||$35 – $55|
|Penetrating Oil Finish||$40 – $100|
|Swedish Finish||$50 – $80|
|Hard Wax Oil||$70 – $550|
Oil-based polyurethane costs around $20 to $50 per gallon. It’s the most commonly used finish type used because of its durability and the traditional look it gives to the hardwood floors. It’s one of the most durable finishes that can take heavy traffic and is extremely easy to work with as any mistake can be fixed along the way. When you apply oil-based polyurethane, it will dry within 24 hours and turn into an amber color over time.
Water-based polyurethane costs $30 to $55 per gallon. It’s the second most common finish type after oil-based polyurethane because of its affordability and fast application. It is easy to apply and gives the flooring a high-gloss finish, making it a popular choice. Most water-based finishes dry within two to four days, so the project will take less time to complete than with some other finishes.
Cost to Wax Hardwood Floors
Liquid wax is also known as paste wax and can be found for $35 to $55 per gallon. It’s buffed into the hardwood material and then spread throughout the floor. Once it hardens, it’s buffed once again. Using wax finishes gives the floors a more natural look, so they are very popular with historical renovations. A big advantage of wax finishes is the ability to buff in more wax on high traffic areas to maintain the updated look across the whole floor.
Penetrating Oil Finish for Wood
Penetrating oil finish for wood costs $40 to $100 per gallon. It’s called penetrating because it enters the wood, oxidizes, and hardens from within. This protects the flooring on the inside rather than adding a protective layer on the surface, which is the case with other finishes. This reinforces the wood as well, increasing its durability and sturdiness. Penetrating oils are expensive because they have little or no volatile components in them that may harm the flooring or people’s health during its use.
Swedish Finish Hardwood Floor Care
Also known as acid-cured, Swedish finishes cost $50 to $80 per gallon. They typically come as a one-component or two-component finish with an acid catalyst and alcohol solvent. Once applied, the first coat dries within two to four hours so that the next coat can be applied after 24 to 48 hours. As the molecules of the finish bond with the wood cells, Swedish finishes are very durable. They are also very flammable because of the alcohol and have a very strong smell at the beginning.
Hard Wax Oil for Wood Floors
Hard wax oil is typically used on more exotic floors as the components are lighter and gentler on the wood, so the cost is a lot higher than other finishes. They are one of the most expensive ones on the market, at the cost of $70 to $550 per gallon. A quarter of a gallon covers around 800 sq.ft. of surface, so it lasts you longer than some other, cheaper finishes. Hard wax oils are rubbed into the floor. Once applied, the oil enters the floor and hardens in it. This process leaves the wax on top and gives the floor a shiny look. It comes in various finishes, from flat to matte and shiny, allowing homeowners to choose a shade that best fits their taste.
Prep Your Home
Before you’re ready to refinish your hardwood floors, you must empty the room and thoroughly clean the floors.
Follow these steps to prepare your home:
- Start by clearing the room of furniture, curtains and decorations.
- Remove doors and shoe molding. Removing molding is optional, but it will help prevent damage. If you choose to remove it, use tape to number the pieces and the coordinating wall so you know where each piece belongs.
- Inspect the floor for any nails that are not flush with the floor. Use the nail set, a small metal tool used for driving nails below the surface of hardwood, to ensure no nail heads are sticking up. Nails not flush with the floor will tear the sandpaper and slow your progress.
- Repair any existing damage to the floors, like holes or scratches, with wood putty and a putty knife.
- Clean floors with hardwood floor cleaner.
- Cover doors, vents, windows and surfaces with plastic sheeting and painters tape. This will prevent dust from traveling throughout your house.
“I would also recommend removing all baseboards – this step isn’t necessary, but it makes the project much easier. We’ll be adding new molding throughout the home, so it totally made sense to trash the existing baseboards prior to the floor project.”
Sarah Gibson | Designer & Blogger, Room for Tuesday
Now you’re ready to begin refinishing your hardwood floors.
Cost to refinish wood floors by type
Refinishing wood floors costs $1,200 to $2,400 for the average home, regardless of wood type. Hardwoods such as pine, bamboo, and parquet require special care while sanding or staining, but the total cost is the same to refinish.
Cost to refinish engineered hardwood
Refinishing engineered hardwood floors costs $2 to $6 per square foot on average. Engineered flooring features a base layer with a solid hardwood wear layer on top. Engineered floors may be sanded and refinished 1 to 5 times, depending on the wear layer’s thickness.
|Wear layer thickness||Can you refinish?||How many times?|
|Less than 2 mm thick||No|
|2 mm thick||Yes||1|
|3 mm to 4 mm thick||Yes||2 – 3|
|5 mm to 6 mm thick||Yes||3 – 5|
- Wear layers less than 2 mm thick should not be sanded.
- Engineered hardwood with acrylic impregnated wear layers cannot be sanded and refinished but may be screened and recoated instead.
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Cost to refinish oak or pine floors
Refinishing oak, cherry, or pine floors costs $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot without staining or $2 to $7 per square foot with staining. Oak is the most common hardwood for flooring. Pine is softer than oak and requires extra care when sanding to prevent grooves or chatter marks in the wood.
Cost to refinish parquet floors
Refinishing parquet floors costs $2 to $6 per square foot, depending on the type of refinishing and if any repairs are needed. Sanding parquet floors requires special care from a professional because the wood grain runs in several directions.
Cost to refinish bamboo floors
Refinishing bamboo floors cost $2 to $6 per square foot, which is cheaper than the cost to install new bamboo flooring at $5 to $10 per square foot. Solid and engineered bamboo floors may be sanded and refinished if the veneer layer is at least 2 mm thick.
Bamboo flooring should be sanded at an angle to the grain on the first pass to reduce the chance of raising splinters.
Can you refinish Bruce hardwood floors?
Bruce hardwood floors may be professionally sanded and refinished 1 to 3 times, depending on the type and thickness. DIY sanding voids the warranty.
Can you refinish Pergo or laminate floors?
Pergo and laminate floors cannot be sanded, refinished, or screened and recoated like solid hardwood. Laminate floors feature a top layer of veneer that is too thin for sanding.
Floor refinishing project: A real-life cost example
We reached out to Dan Praz, CEO of Mr. Sandless and veteran of the floor refinishing business with over 35 years in the industry, to get a firsthand take on the cost to refinish hardwood floors.
Praz’s client wanted to refinish the floors of their 150-square foot kitchen, and here’s a breakdown of the costs:
|Refinish Hardwood Floor||Labor||Materials||Cost|
|Refinish 150 sq ft||$859||–||$859|
|Board Repair (optional)||$10-$12 per linear foot||–||$100|
|Quarter Round||–||$4 per foot||$40|
|Move and replace furniture||$99||–||$99|
Cost Estimate Courtesy of Dan Praz, CEO of Mr. Sandless
Mr. Sandless refinishes floors using a wet-solution and a high-speed machine to lift stains and imperfections off the floor before fine detailing the wood and applying a sealer and topcoat.
“Our service takes just hours to complete and starts at $459-$559 a room,” says Praz.
Praz provided a rough estimate for this project upfront. He determined the board repair and quarter round replacements only after the team could get in and see where there was potential damage. Most of the project consists of labor costs. The team brings their equipment and refurbishes what’s already there.