How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost by Project Range

Low
$600

Refinishing cherry hardwood floor and oil-based finish

Average Cost
$1,200

Cleaning, sanding, and staining a 200 sq.ft. oak floor, and applying a wax finish to it

High $3,100 Refinishing a mahogany hardwood floor with a set of 15 stairs using the dustless method, staining, and polish it afterward

Cost to Sand and Refinish Wood Floors

Refinishing hardwood flooring is the process of sanding away the damaged top layer of wood and applying a fresh finish.

  • Professional cost to refinish hardwood flooring: $2.50-$5.50 per square foot.
  • When to refinish hardwood: This method is necessary when scratches, dents and stains have damaged the wood, not just the polyurethane sealer.
  • How to refinish hardwood: The polyurethane and enough of the wood is sanded away to remove light damage. If a wood plank is deeply scratched, it can be repaired with wood filler or the plank can be replaced. The bare wood floor is vacuumed and tacked. Two or three coats of polyurethane are applied. The first coat can be a combination stain and polyurethane product if you wish to change the hue of the wood. Combination products like oil-based Minwax PolyShades and water-based Cabot Polystain are a good choice.

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Wood Floor Refinishing Recoating Process

Screening the Floor – Also called buffing and typically costs around $1 to $2 per square foot, totaling $200 to $250 to buff a slightly worn room that is 15×15 feet, or 225 square feet.

Sanding the Wood – If the floor has a wax coating or has been damaged or stained it is going to need to be sanded by a professional.

Staining the Hardwood – If your hardwood is still in good condition, staining may not be necessary.

Finishing or Coating – There are two types of polyurethane coatings, water-based and oil-based. Water-based polyurethane runs about $40 per gallon, while an oil-based polyurethane is about $25 per gallon.

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.

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…

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 TypeCost per Gallon (Materials Only)Oil-Bas

Finish TypeCost 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

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

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.

About The Author

							Steph Gregerson

Steph Gregerson

Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can’t get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times.

Questions to Ask Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Are There Parts of My Floor That Are Too Damaged to Refinish?

If refinishing won’t fix certain parts of your floor, you’ll want to know that up front. Ask your contractor to point out the spots that are concerning.

How Extensive Are My Necessary Repairs?

Different problems, such as scratches or holes, co

Different problems, such as scratches or holes, cost different amounts to repair. Have your contractor create an itemized list of all your repairs so that you can understand the total cost of fixes before refinishing.

What Kind of Stain Is Best for My Floors?

Before launching into any big home improvement project, you need to know what options best suit your specific house and style. Which works better for your home: An oil-based poly with a satin finish? An espresso-colored stain? A natural look and feel?

Do some research of your own, but also talk to a refinishing expert to understand all of your choices.

How Long Will the Refinishing Project Take?

This answer will depend on the weather conditions in your area, the number of coats needed, and whether or not color will be added. Typically, each refinishing coat takes at least a few hours, if not a day or two.

Is This Contractor Bonded and Insured?

It doesn’t matter how low the cost of refinishing hardwood floors is if the contractor doesn’t have the right certifications. When a contractor is “bonded,” you’re financially protected if the job is done poorly or left unfinished. Their insurance covers any liability claims that may arise when they’re working in your home.

What Is the Required Deposit Upfront?

Although a hardwood floor refinishing cost estimate is helpful, it’s not effective if it doesn’t include fees like a required deposit. Ask for those before committing to a contractor.

What Are the Total Cost of Furniture, Old Flooring, and Debris Removal?

The costs of furniture removal and cleanup are a big part of your entire refinishing price. Ensure you have these fees listed out before you agree to start any refinishing project.

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.

Refinishing your floors?Some jobs are better left to the pros. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed flooring contractors near you. Find local pros ++

Floor Condition

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.

Subfloor Repairs

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.

Carpeting

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.

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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.

Preparations

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.

Repairs

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.

Labor Costs

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 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.

Refinishing your floors?Some jobs are better left to the pros. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed flooring contractors near you. Find local pros ++

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.

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Hardwood floor refinishing cost calculator

Enter the wood floor’s length and width in the calculator below to estimate the cost of refinishing.

The following table shows the average cost of a typical hardwood flooring refinishing project.

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors - chart
Average cost to refinish hardwood floors – chart

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors
National average cost $1,600
Minimum cost $300
Maximum cost $8,000
Average range $1,200 to $2,400

*Based on 369 project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Factors Affecting Cost

In general, for a basic refinishing job, it will take a contractor about four to five hours per 100 square feet of space. A number of factors can affect the overall cost of refinishing:

Size of the floor: Generally, smaller rooms are going to be more expensive to refinish per square foot. This is because the equipment used to sand down a hardwood floor is usually quite large, and it is not easy to get it into or maneuver it through tight areas. Some small bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms may be too small to refinish at all without the help of a specialist with the necessary equipment. On the other hand, you can often get a discount on a project to refinish a larger space or multiple rooms on the same visit. Larger projects represent more money for less effort to contractors, and so they are usually willing to offer discounts to secure these jobs.

Local labor costs: In general, contracting companies located in large metropolitan areas are going to charge more for a hardwood refinishing project, mostly because the demand for their services is higher. There can also be a purely regional factor at work; for example, labor in the Northeast is often more expensive than it is in the South.

Company skill: Sometimes, you will be able to find companies offering hardwood refinishing services at extremely low prices. Unfortunately, you usually get exactly what you pay for, and bargain-basement offers may lead to shoddy work or jobs that take longer than they should. Repairs to these mistakes can end up costing more than the original project.

Moving furniture: The room you refinish will need to be cleared of any furniture or furnishings before starting the project. This is generally not included in the estimate for a project, and if the contractors have to take care of this themselves, they may charge a premium for the service. This can not only prolong the project but can also inflate the cost. You may be able to save money by doing the furniture-moving yourself.

Removing carpet or other flooring: If the hardwood you want to have refinished is beneath old carpet, vinyl flooring, or another material, the refinishing contractor will charge extra to remove it for you. Make sure you get an estimate on those costs. You will likely find that doing this work yourself is a good way to save money.

Repairs: If a floor is damaged beyond a certain point, refinishing it won't be effective. In this case, the floor will need to be repaired before it can be refinished. Most refinishers will gladly do this work but for an additional fee that may be higher than that charged by a handyman or carpenter. The better the structural condition of the floor, the more cost-effective the refinishing job will be.

Cleanup: Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a messy process, and unless the cleanup is specified in the contractor's bid, you may need to factor in the cost of a cleaning service when determining the total expense of the project.

Average Cost to Refinish a Floor

When refinishing a floor, it needs to be sanded, stained, and then finished with a protective layer. Labor costs between $3 and $5 per square foot, so let’s assume labor will be the middle figure of $4 per square foot.

Make sure you have the room ready to go, so you don’t incur additional costs for moving furniture. Also, make sure the floor is ready to be refinished: it should be completely clean, dry, and free of any crumbs or particles. This will also save you money in the long run.

An average 300 square foot room will set you back $4 multiplied by 300 square feet. This amounts to $1,200.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to do the project yourself, expect to pay a few hundred dollars to rent a sander, purchase sanding belts and pads, stain, and a clear finish.

All pricing information on this page is based on average industry costs, and is subject to variance for project-specific materials, labor rates, and requirements.

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