Hardwood Refinishing Costs 2022

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cost to finish hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are one of the best investments you can make for your home.

Not only do they add beauty, durability and comfort to your rooms, but they also add resale value to your home.

Maintenance and upkeep on hardwood floors, though, requires a bit of work and overtime, the need to refinish will come up.

Depending on several factors, the cost of refinishing hardwood floors can be quite high.

This article will examine the cost to refinish hardwood floors, if you need to refinish at all and if it is something you can do yourself. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the cost of hardwood floor refinishing.

Benefits to Refinished Hardwood Floors

Newly refinished hardwood floors have plenty of benefits. Here are some of the best reasons to refinish your floors.

  • Aesthetics. A new finished floor looks great, no matter the room, and hardwood can add warmth, comfort and style to your home.
  • Value. A refinished hardwood floor adds value to your home. Not just monetarily, but in pleasure and enjoyment, too.
  • Matching décor. If you change the look of your home, you can refinish your hardwood to match the new look or style, and always be up to date on the latest trends.
  • Resale. If you plan to sell your home, refinished hardwood will add resale value to your asking price.
  • Cost effective. Refinishing a floor is much less expensive than replacement. Save money and get the same look.

Do You Need to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors?

refinish hardwood floors

Before you worry about how much a refinishing will cost, you need to decide if your floors even need to be refinished. Most solid hardwood floors are capable of being sanded multiple times and refinished, sealed and treated repeatedly.

However, certain types of hardwood floors should not be refinished. Engineered hardwood, for example, has more options that are too thin to refinish than styles that can be. If you know for certain your flooring can be refinished, you are in good shape.

On the other hand, if you are unsure, you can check with the manufacturer first. If you cannot find out, it is better to call in a professional to make sure your floors are capable of handling the sanding, screening and buffing.

Even if your floors can be refinished, it may not be necessary to do so. Striping and sealing could be all that is required, if the planks are fine and you just want to brighten the wood. A complete refinishing job will require sanding and removing the top layers of the wood, which may not be needed.

Below we list consideration factors to help you decide if a refinishing job is right for you. If you are already certain, you can skip ahead to the costs section for more information on pricing.

Considerations for Refinishing Hardwood 

refinishing hardwood

While you may want to refinish your floors or are deciding if it is better to refinish or replace, this is the section for you. Below, you will find several consideration factors to help you determine what is the logical and correct next step for your floor care routine, even if that means not refinishing.

Type of Hardwood

The first thing to note is the type of hardwood flooring you have. Most hardwood can stand up to multiple sanding and refinishing cycles. However, thinner and lower-quality options may not do so well under the sander.

Engineered hardwood planks can usually be refinished once or twice, but if it has been done already, you will need to check other factors before committing to a refinish job.

Size and Area of Flooring

Some homes have hardwood in a room or two, and others have hardwood throughout the entire home. A refinishing job usually takes several hours per room and can have significant cost increases for larger areas.

It is wise to do the essential areas only, or do a single room at a time. This will allow you more time to prepare, move furniture and be able to stay in your home while the work is being done.

Professional Services

Professional services take the guesswork out of the process. You don’t need to rent or buy specific tools, do any of the work (except moving your furniture and belongings) and most contractors will also perform a thorough clean up.

However, when choosing a professional, there will be higher costs (more details further below). Some costs will be there regardless of the floor size or condition, and smaller areas may seem to have a higher price because of it.

DIY Refinishing

When performing a DIY refinish, you will need the time, knowledge and tools to get the job done right. While it isn’t a difficult task, it is time consuming and can take a novice up to 8 hours for a single room (or more).

While you are considering saving the money from hiring a professional, keep in mind the cost of time and effort. Unlike other home repair projects, refinishing a hardwood floor isn’t one that can be stopped and started over time.

Age of Flooring

As hardwood ages, it becomes less durable and resilient. After a certain time it is better to replace the planks than refinish them. However, this time frame is different for all types of hardwood floors, the amount and level of care and maintenance over the year and other factors.

If the floors are damaged, aged to the point of cracking or lifting, or show signs of splintering, it may be wise to invest in new flooring instead of trying to refinish a floor that won’t last.

Previous Refinishing

One major factor to consider is the number of times the floor has been refinished before. Each time you refinish a hardwood floor, the planks get thinner. You need to maintain at least ¾ inch in plank thickness for a sturdy and reliable floor.

If your floor is already past this point, or the next refinish will take it below the threshold, then replacement is recommended. If you can’t tell or don’t know, you can call a flooring professional to give an estimate, take measurements and evaluate the floor before a decision is made.

Reason for Refinishing

Just because refinishing is less expensive than replacement, doesn’t mean it is cheap. Before you head out and spend your money you should evaluate why you are refinishing.

Many times homeowners want to update the look, color or restore brightness. These things can also be accomplished without refinishing on certain occasions. It is much more cost effective to buff and polish a floor to restore shine than to refinish the entire area.

However, if the sealant, finish and planks are tarnished, flaking or peeling, refinishing is the optimal solution. Only you or a trained professional can make that call, but it is a call worth considering in detail.

Costs of Hardwood Floor Refinishing

costs of hardwood

When it comes to refinishing hardwood floors, there are several cost factors at play. Unlike installing flooring, where you have materials and labor, refinishing needs more. Let’s find out where all the costs for floor refinishing come from.

Screening Costs

Screening is a term used for buffing the floor. A mesh screen is placed on a sanding wheel and run over the floor. The screens are resistant to clogs, and can remove the finish without gouging or scratching the wood.

Screening isn’t always viable, though. You can’t screen a floor with a non-waxed polyurethane finish, or a floor that has plank damage. For screening and finishing, the cost will range between $1.25 and $2.50 per square foot of space.

Polishing Costs

When the floor needs a new shine or has become lightly scratched on the wear surface layer, you may be able to have the floor polished. A polish uses a hardwood floor polishing product that comes in a large bucket.

The product itself can run between $50 and $90 per bucket, depending on brand, style and amount. You will apply the polish directly to the flooring with a mop. Of course you will need to clean first, so you can add in the cost of a broom, microfiber sweeper or vacuum to the total polishing cost.

Additional Costs

Aside from actually refinishing the floor, there are other expenses to consider. Each home and floor type will have a different cost. But the following factors can add significant fees to the job.

Exotic Woods

Exotic woods need special treatment. These could be ironwoods that need extra careful sanding, or softwoods that require special equipment to maintain the level of the planks.

Wood that is too hard (Ipe and other ironwoods, for example) can easily burnish during the sanding process. Since extra care is needed, the cost will usually increase per square foot. Expect to add between $0.25 and $2.00 per square foot for exotic woods.

Stairs

Stairs are another expense often overlooked. While the process is the same, it takes extra effort and more specialized tools to complete the job. The labor is where this cost will rise the most, as it takes great skill and effort to refinish stairs compared to a large, flat floor.

On average you can expect to pay an extra $20 to $40 per stair. If you have a lot of stairs, this can drastically increase your overall cost.

Extended Area Size & Set Fees

Because flooring jobs are priced by the square foot, you will notice a drastic cost increase with the more area you need completed. However, there are some costs that make smaller jobs even more expensive.

If you have a professional contractor perform the job, they will charge you a flat rate for materials, fuel and tools. These prices are set for the average job, which makes them appear less on a much larger job, but can seem exuberant on smaller jobs.

Keep in mind that the average estimate will come for a single room up to about 250 square feet. If your project is larger, you will pay more on the materials and hours portion, but less on these set fees. Likewise, areas less than 100 square feet will see lower labor fees but the flat rates will look high. 

Professional Refinishing Costs

Professional flooring contractors are a good option for those that don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to refinish their floors. A professional will bring all the tools and materials needed to complete the job, but they will also charge you for those tools, materials and their time.

When choosing a professional contractor for the job it is important to ensure you get the best company for the job and at the right price. You can use our Pro Finder for free to locate professionals in your area, specialized in floor refinishing.

Once you have your three quotes and have decided on a contractor, it is important to know their pricing. The price you are given should include the following services:

  • Protecting surrounding areas with sheeting
  • Sanding the floors
  • Screening the floors
  • Any repairs needed (price negotiated before work starts)
  • Refinishing the floors
  • Polishing floors after refinish is complete
  • Clean up and old material disposal

On average, with exceptions for regional labor cost differences, you will pay between $3 and $5 per square foot. Depending on your floor size, your costs should be close to the following averages.

Room SizeSquare FeetEstimated Cost
5 x 1050$150 – 250
10 x 10100$300 – 500
12 x 12144$432 – 720
16 x 16256$768 – 1280
20 x 20400$1200 – 2000
24 x 24576$1728 – 2880

DIY Refinishing Costs

If you plan to take on the project yourself, there are several additional costs you need to keep in mind. The biggest expense will be your time. But financially, you will need to buy, own or rent the required tools.

Most home improvement stores will have tool rental for the project, and costs will vary from state to state. According to HomeAdvisor.com, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1000 for a DIY floor refinishing project.

Here are some of the tool and material costs you can expect to pay.

EquipmentAverage Cost
Personal Protective Gear$62
Floor Sander (rental)$60 per day
Belt Sander (rental)$35 per day ($60 – 80 for purchase)
Sanding Pads/Paper$60
Varnish/Polish$135
Varnish Application (Roller, Brushes, etc.)$65
Stain$35 (per gallon)
Hammer, Nails, Scraper, Etc.$40
Keep in mind that these costs will cover about 250 square feet or less. Varnish and Stain will only cover a certain amount of square feet, but you will need multiple coats.

You should also realize you need cleaning equipment such as microfiber mops, broom and dustpan and a shop vacuum. If you don’t already own these, those costs need to be budgeted as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq costs to refinish hardwood flooring

Here, we answer the more commonly asked questions about hardwood floor refinishing. If you have more questions or concerns, use the comment section below.

Q. How long does refinishing hardwood floors take?

  1. A professional crew can refinish a 150 to 250 square foot room in about 5 hours. As a DIY project, though, 8 to 10 hours is more likely. This will depend on your level of skill and knowledge of the tools and process, though.

Q. Is it better to refinish hardwood floors or replace them?

  1. It is generally always less expensive to refinish hardwood floors as compared to replacement. However, not all floors are capable of refinishing, either due to composition, age or previous refinishing jobs. If you cannot refinish then replacement is your only option.

Q. Can you refinish a hardwood floor without sanding?

  1. While it is possible, it is not recommended. All previous finish, varnish and top coat needs to be removed, and it is always wise to smooth out any wood imperfections by sanding down the top layer after these products are gone. Without sanding, you will be paying to have the floors refinished again in a very short amount of time.

Q. Can I use a different color stain when refinishing my floors?

  1. Of course! Once sanded, the original varnish, stain and coatings are completely removed, leaving behind the natural wood color. You can choose any color or tint of finish you prefer, even matching your floor to your room’s décor, or keeping the varnish clear to allow the natural wood colors to shine through.

Conclusion

The choice and option to refinish your hardwood floors is always a smart investment. It is generally much cheaper than replacement and can make your room look brand new again.

Refinishing allows you the opportunity to repair scratches, change tint or varnish color and bring a new level of value to your home. While the process isn’t a highly difficult one, knowledge of floor sanders and other equipment is a must.

Hiring the job out to a professional is also a wise choice, especially when you want the job done faster, and without having to rent or buy a lot of equipment. Know you know what goes into refinishing a hardwood floor, and the costs associated with it.

We wish you luck in your refinishing project ahead!

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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