How Much Does it Cost to Sand and Refinish Hardwood Floors?

$1.50 $5 per square foot (without staining) $2 $7 per square foot (with staining) $1,200 $2,400 Average refinishing project

The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is $2 to $6 per square foot or $1,200 to $2,400. Refinishing hardwood stairs costs $25 to $85 per step. The cost to buff and recoat hardwood floors is $1.00 to $2.50 per square foot. DIY costs to redo and resurface wood floors yourself is $600 to $1,100.

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DIY vs. Professional Refinishing

Refinishing hardwood can be undertaken by anyone with some experience handling power tools and performing DIY projects, but it’s wise to enter into the work with a full understanding of what’s involved. The machinery used to do the sanding can often be rented from your local hardware store, along with the purchase of sanding pads, for about $300 to $400 in total cost. You will also have to purchase stains, finish, and any brushes or sprayers that will be required to apply them.

Remember that it will take a professional about five hours total to refinish 100 square feet of flooring, so factor in the time commitment when deciding whether to do this project yourself. A DIYer, on the other hand, can expect to give up the better part of a weekend to do a good job when refinishing a floor. If you happen to live in a very humid climate, then the process of drying stains and finishes can take significantly longer. This may mean that the project stretches out over more days, making the rooms inaccessible for long periods of time while they dry.

Cost to resurface or redo hardwood floors

Alternative methods to redo hardwood floors are typically cheaper, but do not remove deep scratches, stains, or discoloration.

Hardwood floor polishing cost

The average cost to polish hardwood floors is $40 to $80 for supplies, plus $50 to $80 per hour to hire a local handyman. Floor polishing is an easy DIY project that restores the wood’s sheen without sanding but will not remove scratches or discoloration.

  • Liquid polish costs $12 to $20 to cover 500 square feet and works best on floors sealed with polyurethane.
  • A sponge mop to spread the polish costs $10 to $30.
  • Flathead microfiber dust mops cost $15 to $30.

Cost to screen or buff and recoat hardwood floors

The cost to screen, buff, and recoat hardwood floors is $1.00 to $2.50 per square foot. Screening uses a thin buffing disc to remove the old finish without sanding the wood beneath. Recoating removes minor scuffs and scratches on the surface and adds a new sheen to dull floors.

Screening and recoating will not get rid of deep scratches, stains, or discoloration.

Hardwood floor refinishing vs. recoating
Floor condition Refinish Recoat
Scuffs and scratches that only penetrate the finish No Yes
Deep scratches that penetrate the wood Yes No
Stains, gray patches, or UV discoloration Yes No
Floors with non-waxed polyurethane finish Yes Yes
Floors with wax finish Yes No
Want to change the wood color Yes No

Screening only works on floors with a non-waxed polyurethane finish. Waxed floors must be sanded and refinished instead of screened.

Sandless floor refinishing cost

Sandless floor refinishing costs $1.50 to $4.00 per square foot. Sandless refinishing uses chemicals to etch the old finish off, followed by a tinted finish that hides scuff marks and restores the wood’s color and sheen. Sandless methods are not effective for floors with scratches, stains, or damage.

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Cost to Sand and Stain Hardwood Floors

Expect to pay between $0.50 and $3 per square foot for sanding an average 12X14 foot room (approximately $80-$500). The actual amount you will spend will primarily depend on two factors,

a)where you live, and

b)the number of passes required

Staining will cost you an additional $1-$3 per square foot. The actual cost spent will depend on the quality of stain used and your contractor’s hourly labor rate.

Average Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floor

The labor cost is around $2 to $5 per square foot, or $700 out of the $1,200 national average project cost. The exact labor costs depend on how much work the hardwood floor requires. This may include the work needed to remove previous staining and wax residue, the condition of the floor, and the quality of the old finish that determines how much sanding 1 will be needed.

Before starting the hardwood floor refinishing process, you need to remove the furniture, carpets, and anything else that may be sitting on the floor. After this, the professional will inspect the flooring to see if any necessary repairs are needed, such as loose boards or damaged areas. Then, the floor must be sanded down to remove the existing finish and the top layer that may be damaged, scratched, or have imperfections.

Once the floor is smooth, it will be cleaned so there is nothing left on it before starting the staining process. The professional uses a staining pad or a soft, lint-free cloth to rub the stain into the wood until the preferred color is reached. The final step in the refinishing project is sealing the floor. A final topcoat will be applied to keep the floors protected from outside damage and maintain their refreshed look for longer.

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Cost to Replace Hardwood Floors

Replacing a hardwood floor costs homeowners $14 to $32 per sq.ft. on average. This is two or three times more expensive than refinishing it. Thus, most homeowners opt to refinish the flooring a few times before replacing it. However, sometimes the only option is to replace the floor. If the floor suffers extreme water or structural damage, you will have to replace it to ensure you can use it safely. Another case where it would be better to replace the hardwood flooring in your home rather than refinish it is when the floor has become too thin due to previous refinishing, and it’s impossible to do it again.

Cost breakdown by component

Each floor refinishing project will look a little different cost-wide, but here are the main items you’ll end up paying for:

  • Labor: Professionally refinishing wood floors is a labor-intensive process, and you can expect labor costs to account for 80% of your professional estimate.
  • Prep work: The amount of prep work required will vary based on your floors’ condition and can include deep cleanings and replacing damaged flooring. Replacing damaged flooring can cost anywhere between $1.75-$9 or more per square foot based on the installation’s complexity and the type of wood flooring.
  • Sanding: You’ll need several rounds of sanding for any refinishing project. If you want a lighter stain, you’ll need even more rounds of sanding to remove the dark stain. You can expect to pay around $0.78 per square foot for each round of sanding.
  • Stain: After sanding down the floors, they’ll need to be stained with the desired finish, either water or oil-based. Staining can require a few rounds of application and costs between $1-$3 per square foot based on the stain’s quality.

Save on New Floor Installation Costs

Refinishing an existing hardwood floor is much less expensive than installing a new one. This is great news for homeowners because even if you have grown to strongly dislike the look of the wood, you can usually choose a different color of stain to get a completely new look.

For example, you can refinish golden oak hardwood with a walnut stain to achieve a more modern, dark floor. Note that it might be more difficult to go from a darker stain to a lighter color when refinishing.

Benefits of Refinishing

  • Costs less than replacement
  • Enhances durability, and increases the service life of the floor
  • Restores flooring to its former glory

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?

The Benefits of Refinishing a Hardwood Floor Instead of Replacing It

It’s More Environmentally Friendly

As environmentally friendly flooring becomes more and more important to homeowners, it’s important to point out one big benefit of refinishing instead of replacing: it saves products from going to the dump! There’s no better sustainable wood flooring option than one that’s already in your home

It Allows You to Change The Way Your Floors Look on a Budget

Another great perk of refinishing is the ability to change the look of the floor. You can choose different wood floor colors to match your personal style and decor—though as we said, some wood flooring types are easier to stain than others. 

Either way, it’s a great way to change the look of

Either way, it’s a great way to change the look of a room without having to pay to replace your entire floor!

You Can Swap Out Damaged Planks

Sometimes, even the best hardwood floors suffer some damage. The great news is that you can swap out damaged boards with ease during the refinish process—because you can match the new boards to the rest of the floor when you restain! But the biggest question is…

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.

Oak

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 Wood

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.

Parquet

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.

Engineered Hardwood

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.

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Pine

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

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.

Mahogany

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.

Hardwood Floor Restoration

If floor refinishing costs seem too daunting, and your floor only has minor dings or scratches, you may be able to restore them, instead, for much less money. You can begin with a deep cleaning. By simply removing the dust and dirt, you may find your wood floors look as good as new. That’s because dirt does more than make the floor look dingy; it can leave behind scratches on your floor’s surface. Deep cleaning is a fairly simple, straightforward process.

  • Sweep the floors with a soft-bristled brush and vacuum thoroughly.
  • Apply a concentrated cleaner with a microfiber cloth, created specifically for wood floors.
  • For a deeper clean, consider having your floors professionally cleaned.

Can Vinyl Plank Flooring Go in a Bathroom?

It’s a serious question: can vinyl plank flooring go in a bathroom? We hear you, we have your back, and we’re not wasting any time! Below we’re explaining all the pros and cons of using LVP in a bathroom, going over a few of the best vinyl plank flooring brands, and to wrap things up, answering any and all lingering questions! 

Room Dimensions

Room dimensions are relevant to the discussion because most flooring contractors charge by the square foot for a refinishing project. To calculate the square footage of the room you intend to refinish you need to measure the length and the width in feet.

When you’re installing a new floor, these measurements help you calculate the amount of flooring you need. When you’re simply refinishing an existing hardwood floor, these measurements help you estimate labor costs.

The Process of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Below, we’ll outline the steps your professional will take in order to restore your floors to a beautiful shine. These are the same steps you would take if you choose to do this job on your own.

Preparing

Before your floors can be refinished, they’ll need to be fully cleaned and prepared. Contractors will clean and dry your floors, paying special attention to any protruding nails or other objects that could impede the refinishing process. If you have shoe molding, it will likely be removed during this step.

Sanding

Next, your contractor will use a large sanding machine to sand the top layer off of your floor, in preparation for the refinishing. Most homeowners find this part of the process to be the most cumbersome, simply because it’s loud and messy; you can expect a fine layer of dust to cover every surface of your home during this step. When sanding, it’s critical to address every inch of flooring; even right up to the wall, to ensure an even finish once the process is complete.

Staining

After your flooring has been stripped and sanded down, it’s time to apply the stain you’ve chosen. This can be done with a brush or a roller, and is the simplest part of the process.

Top Coating

Finally, a top coat will be applied as a protectant for your floors. This will seal your floors, preventing minor damage, scuffs and water stains.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about refinishing hardwood floors:

How long does refinishing floors take?

That depends a lot on which type of polyurethane is used: water or oil-based. Water-based types dry relatively quickly, usually within two days, though it may take longer for larger refinishing jobs. Oil-based polyurethane, on the other hand, typically takes twice as long, averaging three to four days.

Does refinishing floors produce a lot of dust?

Does refinishing floors produce a lot of dust?

No two ways about it, refinishing wood floors is a messy process. Typically, you can use a vacuum between rounds of sanding to pick up the dust. If you go with a professional who uses dustless sanding, they’ll often use a separator that hooks up to a vacuum and picks up dust during the sanding process. It can also help to tape plastic over all areas not being sanded that need protecting. But, even if you use plastic and opt for a dustless sanding process, there will still likely be some dust remaining.

When can the floors be walked on and furniture moved back?

Once you’ve had your wood floors refinished, generally you can walk on them between 24 and 48 hours afterwards. It’s not advisable to walk on newly refinished floors with bare feet or shoes. Stick to socks only for at least 48 hours. And although you can walk on them, it isn’t recommended to move your furniture back onto your newly refinished hardwood floors for at least four days.

How long will refinishing last?

If you regularly maintain your hardwood floors, you can expect the finish on them to last as long as seven to 10 years. You can also restore them to help brighten a dull finish, adding a coat of polyurethane and buffing it using a store-bought product, or by having a professional do it for you.

What’s the difference between refinishing and restoring hardwood floors?

The main difference between refinishing and restoring hardwood floors is that the latter does not involve any sanding. Restoring, unlike refinishing, involves applying an additional coat of polyurethane to give your floors renewed sheen and protection. The process is a cosmetic one and, while it can help soften or remove minor scratches, it won’t repair deep gouges.

How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors without sanding?

Also called a “screen and recoat,” this process involves applying an additional coat of polyurethane and buffing it to add shine and reduce the appearance of minor scratches. A screen-and-recoat job is less expensive than refinishing and costs between $1.15 and $2.25 per square foot.

Refinishing or restoring your wood floors can be a time-consuming and complex process. With a home repair plan from HomeServe, you’ll be better prepared for the many common repairs. Getting assistance is as easy as a phone call to the 24/7 repair hotline, once you’ve chosen the best plan for you.

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