The national average cost to refinish hardwood floors ranges from $600 - $5,000. The wide range in prices reflects all the factors that impact cost, such as the number of square feet in your project, your zip code, special features of your floor, prep and repair work needed and material costs.
After prepping the room, refinishing professionals use special equipment to sand down the top layer of wood and old finish, removing damage and scratches, eliminating dullness and smoothing out patchy color. After a series of pre-work steps, contractors finish the sanded floors with a clear, water-based polyurethane coat or wood stain. Let's take a look at all the factors and additional costs that affect the price tag of this process.
What's in this cost guide?
- How much does refinishing hardwood floors cost?
- What affects the cost of hardwood floor refinishing?
- Wood floor finishing and coating costs
- Wood floor stain costs
- Special features increase refinishing costs
- How much does it cost to refinish hardwood stairs?
- Cost to repair hardwood floors
- Refinishing vs. replacing hardwood floors
- How to hire great flooring pros
- How to save money on floor refinishing
- Benefits of floor refinishing
Most hardwood floor refinishers charge by the square foot, and that cost is determined by special features, number of stairs and any repair work needed. The smaller your project size, the higher the cost per square foot usually is. You actually save money per square foot when refinishing large areas of wood flooring. Of course, your overall cost will be higher for bigger projects—like refinishing full-floor wood floors, but flooring professionals are able to charge less for bigger areas since they already have their employees on site, the equipment ready to go, and can purchase materials in bulk.
As opposed to wide open hardwood flooring projects, small rooms, such as hall bathrooms, have higher prices per square foot because they include hard-to-reach corners that are tricky to navigate and require more time- and labor-intensive hand-held methods are required. Here are some national average costs that demonstrate how price per square foot drops as project size increases.
Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost by Square Foot
|Project Square Footage||Average Cost|
|100 - 250 sq. ft.||$600|
|251 - 500 sq. ft.||$750|
|501 - 750 sq. ft.||$1,601|
|751 - 1000 sq. ft.||$2,100|
|1001 - 1500 sq. ft.||$2,350|
|1501 - 2000 sq. ft.||$3,500|
|2001 - 3000 sq. ft.||$5,000|
Here is a more granular example of price per square foot lowers slightly depending on total size of wood flooring from Floorchain Inc. in North Hollywood, California.
|Type of Wood||Project Size||Refinishing Cost per Sq Ft|
|Oak, Cherry, or Walnut||500 sq ft||$3.00|
|Oak, Cherry, or Walnut||2,500 sq ft||$2.70|
The number of square feet in your project is how the majority of flooring contractors charge for their hardwood refinishing services. The price per square foot can vary depending on regional labor costs, whether you have a commercial or residential space, if you will be refinishing stairs, and the total project size. Additionally, a floor that is in good condition will often have a lower cost per square foot than an older floor with heavy scratching that needs more prep work. Other factors that impact overall cost include sub-floor repairs or surface repairs work performed before floor refinishing or if you want old carpet removed from on top of a hardwood floor.
The application of a clear coat of oil-based or water-based polyurethane is standard for most refinishing jobs. A good finish protects the hardwood floors from wear and tear, and keeps the hardwood looking well-cared for.
Expect to pay between $40 and $50 for a gallon of water-based polyurethane. This coating dries quickly and doesn't have as strong an odor as other finishings. However, water-based solutions are more expensive than oil-based polyurethane and are less tough against wear and tear.
You'll find oil-based polyurethane gallons priced between $30 and $40 on average. Oil-based finishes are extremely strong, and will extend the lifetime of your refinished hardwood floors. They're fairly slow to dry, so you'll have to account for a longer project timeline to allow enough time for two to three coats to completely dry.
Typically, a gallon of stain will cover 150–300 square feet of hardwood floors. High-end stain solutions will be priced around $100 on average, while lower-quality stains will cost around $30. Exact pricing for stains will vary depending on the brand, flooring company, and total square footage of the project.
If your floor has special features, the cost per square foot can be higher than the cost for a standard refinishing project. Special features can include rooms that are not rectangular or square in shape, having a radiant heating system in the floor, the presence of supports or fixtures installed in the floor, and stairs.
Expect to pay between $80 and $140 per step to refinish hardwood stairs, depending on whether railings need to be removed and hand finished, whether steps are being stained, and the number of total steps being refinished.
Prices are higher because of the work and sanding has to be done by hand, requiring twice as much labor as flat surfaces. The three most common types of stairs are box steps, where the staircase has a wall on either side; steps with one side open; and steps with two sides open. The local cost of labor also plays a role in your cost for stair refinishing as so much of the work has to be done by hand.
If the flooring pros need to make repairs to a hardwood floor during a refinish job, costs will increase. Some flooring pros charge a minimum fee for services when doing small repairs to cover travel expenses as well as the effort of bringing and unloading all the tools, setting up, and then cleaning up. It is most cost-efficient to consolidate repairs with refinishing work if possible.
If your floors are particularly damaged or old, it may cost less to have them replaced. Based on a national average, new hardwood floors cost between $1.75 per square foot to $9 or more, depending on how much prep work the installer needs to do. The type of wood will most dramatically affect the total cost of the project, with high-end woods like maple costing more.
- Meet the contractor in person, and confirm that the person you meet is the one who will do the work on your house—rather than just a salesperson.
- If the contractor is subcontracting the job out, make sure you meet subcontractors first and feel confident in their abilities.
- Look for a company with insurance and workers compensation—this keeps you, the workers, and your home safe from financial liability. For more tips on smart hiring, check out our safety page.
- Read reviews and ask for referrals.
- For special features, find a flooring pro with experience successfully completing projects similar to your own.
- Pre-finished hardwood floor owners should find experienced pros. Pre-finished floors receive their topcoat in the factory, not after the raw wood is installed in a home. The price for refinishing won't necessarily differ from traditional hardwood, but this material requires a professional with the know-how to work with it. According to Floorchain Inc., using the wrong grade of sander can take the veneer off of pre-finished flooring and just leave the plywood underneath. It will cost more in the long run to have the problem fixed.
- Verify that dust containment and debris cleanup are included in the cost of services.
- Ask for a written and signed contract. This contract should outline the materials that will be used, the scope of the project, cleanup details, time frame, and total cost.
If you're worried about cost, there are a few ways to save money on floor refinishing. Professional flooring contractors usually charge more than handymen who specialize in home improvement projects. Hiring a handyman is a money saving strategy, but be sure to read reviews and check referrals when hiring a handyman so you know you're hiring someone able to successfully refinish floors.
- Make sure the flooring pro has the proper equipment for the job.Refinishing floors without a professional dust control system will create a mess in the house. Using improper sanding equipment can actually damage floors.
- Confirm that the company is licensed and bonded. Be sure the company carries workers compensation to protect you and your home. "Flooring is an investment. It's better to wait and put money aside to have it done right," say the experts at Floorchain Inc. If mistakes need to be remedied after a mishap, you'll have to pay twice.
- Do (some of it) yourself. Floor refinishing can be a DIY project, but only if you're extremely skilled and have access to the proper equipment such as a floor sander—like a drum sander—and mechanisms to handle the dust. Most home improvement stores sell and rent all the necessary materials for this project. Before taking on a DIY task of these proportions, know this is a time consuming home improvement project. Weigh the opportunity to save money on labor costs with how much free time you actually can spare.
There are a range of benefits for refinishing your floors. Refinishing hardwood floors adds value to your home. Hardwood refinishing increases the lifespan of hardwood flooring, improving the health of the wood. Most wood floors can be refinished up to eight times over many years, so the rich look will continue to glow over time. Refinishing floors allows you to change the appearance of your floors without replacing floors. By changing the stain you can increase or decrease the shine, or change the color of your wood floors.