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January 19, 202416 min read

Uncover the True Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors: A Comprehensive Guide

Curious about the cost to refinish hardwood floors? This guide dives into the key elements that shape the pricing, ensuring that by reading further, you’ll uncover how labor and materials influence the overall costs and what you might expect to invest in such a project.

Key Takeaways

  • Refinishing hardwood floors typically costs $1,098 to $2,653, influenced by factors such as wood type, project size, and labor, providing a cost-effective way to restore floor beauty.

  • Labor can constitute up to 80% of refinishing costs with average rates of $60-$160/hr, but DIY refinishing may significantly reduce expenses for those with time and skills.

  • The choice of refinishing method can impact cost and quality, with dustless refinishing offering a cleaner environment and superior finish at a higher price range of $5-$8/sq ft.

Understanding the Price Tag of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Cost to refinish hardwood floors

Restoring the beauty and durability of hardwood floors can be cost-effective through refinishing. Think of it as giving your floors a spa day, where they are rejuvenated and their shine is restored. However, like any service, there are associated costs. The cost to refinish hardwood floors can range from $1,098 to $2,653, depending on various factors. But what are these factors, and how do they influence the cost?

Labor is one of the major components that contribute to the cost of hardwood floor refinishing. Labor costs can make up 80% or more of the total project cost. It’s the hands that wield the sander, apply the finish, and buff the floors to perfection that command the lion’s share of your budget. But the good news is, if you’re handy and willing to put in the time and effort, you can save a significant amount by choosing to refinish wood floors yourself.

Breaking Down the Cost Per Square Foot

Several factors come into play when determining the cost per square foot of refinishing hardwood floors. The type of wood, the condition of the flooring, and the overall size of the project can all impact the cost per square foot. So, how can you manipulate these factors to control the cost?

The hardwood floor refinishing cost ranges for different types of hardwood floors, such as oak, cherry, and bamboo, can vary from $3 to $8 per square foot. If you have a larger project, you could enjoy lower costs per square foot thanks to economies of scale. On the other hand, smaller projects might have higher costs per square foot. So, depending on the size of your project and the hardwood floor refinishing ranges, it might sometimes be more cost-effective to replace hardwood floors instead.

Labor Costs Unveiled

We’ve mentioned the significant role of labor cost in the overall refinishing expense, but it’s worth exploring further. The average labor costs for refinishing hardwood flooring range from $60 to $160 per hour, and the standard costs per square foot range from $3 to $8. While this might seem like a substantial amount, remember that this labor involves careful and detailed work that requires skill and experience.

The complexity of your project can also impact labor costs. Special touches, finishes, and intricate application methods can drive up labor costs. But remember, these extra investments are what make your hardwood floors stand out and shine. Meanwhile, the geographic location of your project can influence labor costs. By strategically choosing locations with a lower cost of living, you could potentially reduce labor expenses.

Material Matters

The cost of refinishing hardwood floors is also significantly affected by the materials used. The type of wood you choose can make a big difference. Opting for oak can save you money, with prices typically ranging from $3 to $5 per square foot. However, engineered wood and bamboo may come with higher costs due to their unique maintenance needs and susceptibility to water damage.

To undertake a DIY hardwood floor refinishing project, you’ll need tools like:

  • a drum or belt floor sander

  • an edger sander

  • various wood oils

  • stain

  • finish coat

  • different grits of sandpaper

The cost of these materials varies based on quality and brand, but for a DIY project, you can typically find them ranging from $500 to $1,000. So, in the end, the choice of materials can also impact the overall cost of your refinishing project.

The Influence of Wood Type on Your Refinishing Project

Cherry wood flooring refinishing

Your choice of wood type for your floors can have a significant impact on the cost of your refinishing project. Different wood types have different characteristics, which can influence the effort required for refinishing and, consequently, the cost. This is why we often see cost variations between different types of wood floors such as:

  • Oak

  • Cherry

  • Engineered wood

  • Bamboo

Oak is often a preferred choice for many homeowners due to its affordability. With average costs ranging from $3 to $5 per square foot, you can revamp your floors for a total cost between $3,033 and $5,900, depending on the project’s scale.

Cherry wood flooring, on the other hand, is a premium, fine-grade wood that exudes elegance and sophistication. Its softness may require more upkeep in high-traffic areas, but the result is a luxurious and timeless look that is well worth the cost.

The Cost of Refinishing Oak Flooring

When it comes to refinishing, oak flooring is a popular and affordable choice. The average cost per square foot to refinish oak hardwood floors in the United States ranges from $3.50 to $5. This makes oak a cost-effective choice for those looking to bring their worn-out hardwood floors back to life.

Part of the reason why oak flooring is such a cost-effective option for refinishing is its ease of sanding and its lower cost, especially red oak, which is a common and less expensive type of oak wood. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on quality or appearance, oak flooring might be the right choice for you.

Cherry Wood Flooring: A Pricier Option?

Cherry wood flooring is considered a more luxurious and premium option for refinishing, even though oak flooring may be more affordable. The average cost to refinish cherry wood floors in the United States ranges between $3 and $5 per square foot. This is considered at the higher end of the hardwood floor refinishing spectrum, but the results are definitely worth it.

Refinishing cherry wood flooring is a great investment because cherry is a premium, fine-grade wood that exudes elegance and sophistication. Its deep, rich color and unique grain patterns make it a luxurious and timeless choice. The softness of cherry wood may require more upkeep in high-traffic areas, but the result is well worth the cost.

Engineered Wood and Bamboo Flooring Considerations

If you’re thinking about refinishing engineered wood or bamboo flooring, keep in mind some unique considerations. The average cost of refinishing engineered wood floors per square foot is $2 to $6. While this may be slightly higher than oak or cherry wood, the unique aesthetics and durability of engineered wood make it a worthwhile investment.

When it comes to refinishing engineered wood floors, it’s crucial to assess the wear of the floor. Refinishing works best for restoring a fresh look to floors with significant wear. Also, don’t forget to consider the thickness of the veneer. Some engineered hardwood floors may not be suitable for refinishing if the veneer is too thin. This is why it’s essential to consult with a flooring professional before undertaking such a project.

The Scope of Your Hardwood Floor Refinishing Project

The overall cost of your hardwood floor refinishing project can be significantly influenced by its size and complexity. You might be wondering how exactly? Well, the cost per square foot can vary depending on the total square footage of the project and the condition of the flooring. This is why larger projects often have lower per square foot costs.

For example, the average cost per square foot of refinishing hardwood floors in a small space ranges between $2 and $8. However, for larger areas like an entire home, the costs typically fall into a similar range of $3 to $8 per square foot, yet the overall project may cost from $2,400 to $6,000. This suggests that larger projects can sometimes offer slightly more economic per square foot rates. So if you’re considering refinishing the hardwood floors in your entire home, you might save in the long run.

Small Spaces vs. Larger Areas

Size matters when it comes to the cost per square foot for refinishing hardwood floors. The average cost per square foot for refinishing hardwood floors in a small space ranges between $2 and $8. However, for larger areas like an entire home, the costs typically fall into a similar range of $3 to $8 per square foot, yet the overall project may cost from $2,400 to $6,000. This suggests that larger projects can sometimes offer slightly more economic per square foot rates.

So if you’re looking to save on your hardwood floor refinishing project, consider tackling larger areas at once. While there’s no standard information on bulk discounts for large area hardwood floor refinishing, homeowners are encouraged to reach out directly to professionals to explore potential discounts for their larger projects. It’s worth the effort to inquire and potentially save on your project.

Additional Charges for Complex Layouts

A complex floor layout with intricate patterns and decorative borders can also influence your project’s cost. These types of layouts require extra time and effort during the refinishing process, leading to potential increases in costs. But don’t let this deter you. Embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to create something truly special.

Additional features, such as stairs, can also add to the cost of refinishing hardwood floors. The cost of refinishing hardwood stairs ranges from $40 to $75 per stair tread, reflecting the additional labor and detailed work required. But remember, these extra investments are what make your hardwood floors stand out and shine. After all, quality work is worth the investment.

Methods and Techniques: The Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Traditional vs. Dustless Refinishing

Various methods and techniques for refinishing hardwood floors exist, each offering their own costs and benefits. The traditional refinishing process involves a comprehensive approach to ensure a beautiful outcome. From removing shoe base molding to preparing areas before sanding and applying a coating, every step is essential for a stunning result. The typical cost ranges from $1,098 to $2,653, with costs per square foot ranging from $2 to $8, depending on the wood type.

Conversely, dustless refinishing revolutionizes the process. It uses innovative equipment with a dust containment system to drastically reduce dust during sanding, and then follows up with a HEPA-filtered vacuuming to ensure a dust-free environment. The cost typically ranges from $5 to $8 per square foot, reflecting the investment in advanced equipment and meticulous process.

So while traditional refinishing might be more affordable, dustless refinishing offers a cleaner work environment and a superior finish.

Traditional Refinishing vs. Dustless Refinishing

Traditional refinishing can be messy and time-consuming, while dustless refinishing offers a cleaner work environment by capturing dust with its containment system. It’s a game-changer for anyone looking for a more efficient and cleaner refinishing process.

When it comes to cost, traditional refinishing comes in at about $2 to $8 per square foot. Dustless refinishing typically costs between $5 to $8 per square foot. This method can help minimize the amount of dust generated during the refinishing process. The slightly higher cost for dustless refinishing is well worth it for the advanced dust containment systems and processes involved, ensuring a superior finish for your space.

Staining and Finishing Varieties

Your choice of stain and finish can also affect the cost of refinishing hardwood floors. Some options to consider include:

  • Water-based polyurethane

  • Colored hardwax oil

  • Minwax

  • Bona Drifast stain

  • Duraseal Fastdry

  • Fabulon Crystal

  • Varathane by Rustoleum

With these options, you have a variety of choices to find the perfect stain and finish for your hardwood floors.

Typically, staining hardwood floors ranges between $1 and $3 per square foot, but the quality and type of stain can cause variations. Additionally, different finishes such as polyurethane, wax, or shellac can also affect the overall cost.

So, by carefully selecting the type and brand of stain and finish, you can:

  • Create a stunning aesthetic

  • Ensure long-lasting durability

  • Minimize maintenance needs

  • Optimize the cost of your refinishing project.

Hidden Costs in Hardwood Floor Refinishing

While factors like the size of the project, the type of wood, and the method of refinishing mainly determine the cost of refinishing hardwood floors, there are also hidden costs to be aware of. These include moving furniture, carpet removal, and repairing damage before refinishing.

For instance, the typical cost for moving furniture during a hardwood floor refinishing project ranges from $20 to $50 per room. Carpet removal, on the other hand, can range from $0.50 to $0.75 per square foot. Moreover, addressing issues like:

  • pet urine stains

  • worn patches

  • water damage

  • scratches

  • gouges

before refinishing can increase the overall expenses of the project, but the end result will be well worth it.

Moving Furniture and Carpet Removal

Moving furniture and removing carpets are often necessary tasks when refinishing hardwood floors. These tasks can add to the overall cost of the project, but they are essential for ensuring a smooth and efficient refinishing process. The typical cost for moving furniture during a hardwood floor refinishing project ranges from $20 to $50 per room.

Meanwhile, the typical cost of carpet removal before hardwood floor refinishing can range from $150 to $300 per room, or $1 to $1.50 per square foot. Preparing the floor properly is a crucial step in the refinishing process. So, while these tasks may add to your overall project cost, they are important for achieving a successful and satisfying result.

Repairing Damage Before Refinishing

Before you can start the refinishing process, it’s important to repair any damage to the hardwood floors. This can include things like scratches, dents, or even water damage. Repairing these damages can add to the overall cost of the project, but it is a crucial step in ensuring a high-quality result.

The potential costs for repairing hardwood floors include:

  • Scratches: $250 to $3,000, depending on the severity of the damage

  • Dents: $0.50 to $100 per square foot, typically between $3 and $25

  • Water damage: $200 to $550, but if floor replacement is needed, costs can surge to between $2,500 and $6,700

While these repairs may increase the overall expenses of the project, the end result will be well worth it.

DIY vs. Professional Hardwood Floor Refinishing

DIY vs. Professional Refinishing

You have the option to either do it yourself or hire a professional when it comes to refinishing hardwood floors. If you’re handy and willing to put in the time and effort, you can save a significant amount by choosing to refinish wood floors yourself. However, DIY refinishing can be more time-consuming and challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the process.

On the other hand, hiring a professional ensures a high-quality result. Professional hardwood floor refinishing involves the use of specialized tools and techniques, as well as expert knowledge and experience. The average labor costs for refinishing hardwood flooring range from $60 to $160 per hour, and the standard costs per square foot range from $3 to $8. While hiring a professional might be more expensive than DIY, the quality of the result is usually well worth the cost.

Maximizing Value: Tips for Cost-Effective Hardwood Floor Refinishing

There are a few strategies you can use if you’re seeking ways to make your hardwood floor refinishing project more cost-effective. First, proper preparation is key. Ensuring that your floors are clean and free of damage before you begin refinishing can help to prevent issues down the line, saving you time and money in the long run.

Choosing the right refinishing method can also help to make your project more cost-effective. For example, dustless refinishing may be more expensive upfront, but it can save you time and effort in the long run by reducing the amount of dust and debris that you need to clean up.

Finally, don’t forget to compare quotes from multiple contractors. This can help you to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your investment.

Choosing the Right Flooring Contractor

For a successful hardwood floor refinishing project, it’s crucial to choose the right flooring contractor. You’ll want to look for a contractor who is experienced, certified, and comes with positive references. Contractors with certifications from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and Bona are often a good choice, as these certifications indicate that the contractor has received specialized training and meets high standards of quality and professionalism.

In addition to checking for certifications, you’ll also want to look at the contractor’s past work and ask for references. Past customers can provide valuable insight into the contractor’s reliability, quality of work, and customer satisfaction.

Finally, don’t forget to ask about the contractor’s warranty offer. A good contractor will stand behind their work and offer a warranty in case any issues arise after the project is completed.

Summary

So there you have it. Refinishing hardwood floors can be a cost-effective way to restore the beauty and durability of your floors. While there are costs associated with this process, from labor to materials, the result is well worth it. With proper preparation and the right contractor, you can ensure a successful and satisfying result. So go ahead, give your floors the makeover they deserve and watch them shine!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to refinish hardwood or install new?

Refinishing hardwood floors is usually cheaper than replacing them, due to the costs of additional wood, installation, and labor for tearing up existing hardwood. Save money and revitalize your floors by choosing refinishing!

How long does it take to refinish 1000 square feet of hardwood floors?

It takes 2-3 days to refinish 1000 square feet of hardwood floors with a natural sanding job and water-based finish system, which dries quickly in 2-3 hours.

Is it worth refinishing old hardwood floors?

Yes, refinishing old hardwood floors is definitely worth it as it adds value to your home, provides a classic look, and can increase the value of your property. Plus, it's a satisfying way to take pride in your home.

Can I stay in my house while floors are refinished?

Yes, you can stay in your house while the floors are being refinished. Just make sure to prepare and manage the process effectively.

What factors influence the cost of refinishing hardwood floors?

The cost of refinishing hardwood floors is influenced by factors such as the project size, wood type, and chosen refinishing method. These factors can substantially impact the overall cost, so it's important to consider them carefully when planning for refinishing.

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Matt Garcia

Family owned and Installer Pro Author, Matt Garcia, began his career in the installation industry over 20 years ago. Growing up in a family of installers, Matt learned the craft at a young age and has since become one of the top professionals in the field. Throughout his career, Matt has installed everything from flooring to windows to cabinets, making him a well-rounded and experienced installer. He has also worked on both residential and commercial projects, giving him a diverse range of knowledge and skills. Matt's passion for installation goes beyond just getting the job done. He takes pride in providing excellent customer service and ensuring that each project is completed with precision and care. This dedication to his work has earned him a loyal following of satisfied customers who continue to trust him with their installation needs.

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Owner and operator Matt Garcia is a third-generation contractor

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