The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is $1,500, and costs typically range from $1,294 and $1,875. But prices can range drastically — from $450 to $4,939.
Cost to refinish wood floors:
|National average cost||$1,500|
|Average cost range||$1,294-$1,875|
The wide range in prices reflects all the factors that impact costs, such as the number of square feet for your project, your zip code, special features of your floor, prep and repair work, and material costs. Let's take a look at all the factors that impact hardwood refinishing costs.
What's in this cost guide?
- Square foot price to refinish hardwood floors
- Cost to refinish wood floors by type
- What affects the cost of hardwood floor refinishing and sanding?
- Wood floor finishing and coating costs
- Wood floor stain costs
- Special features that increase refinishing costs
- Cost to refinish hardwood stairs
- Cost to repair hardwood flooring
- Refinishing vs. replacing hardwood flooring
- How to hire great flooring pros
- How to save money on floor refinishing
- Benefits of floor refinishing
- Get cost estimates from hardwood floor refinishers near you
Most hardwood floor refinishers charge by the square foot, and that cost is determined by special features, the 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 sanding and 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 can charge less for bigger areas because they already have their employees on-site, the sanding equipment is ready to go and they can purchase materials in bulk.
Below are some national average costs that demonstrate how price per square foot drops as project size increases.
Cost per square foot to refinish hardwood floors:
Flooring square footage
100 - 250 sq. ft.
251 - 500 sq. ft.
501 - 750 sq. ft.
751 - 1000 sq. ft.
1001 - 1500 sq. ft.
1501 - 2000 sq. ft.
2001 - 3000 sq. ft.
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. They require more time- and labor-intensive hand-held methods.
Here is a more granular example of price per square foot lowers slightly depending on the total size of the wood flooring from Floorchain Inc. in North Hollywood, California.
|Type of wood||Project size||Cost per square foot to refinish wood floors|
|Oak, cherry or walnut||500 sq ft||$3|
|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 to 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, 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 the 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 flooring costs 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.
To find the best pro to refinish your flooring, use these tips:
- Look for a company with insurance and workers' compensation. This keeps you, the workers and your home safe from financial liability.
- Read online reviews and ratings. Also, take a look at the online photos of flooring the pros have recently sanded and refinished.
- Find a flooring pro with experience completing projects similar to your own.
- 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.
Also, keep in mind that 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.
For more tips on smart hiring, check out Thumbtack's safety page.
If you're worried about the cost, there are a few ways to save money on floor refinishing.
For example, 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.
Confirm that the company is licensed and bonded, and 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.
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 that sanding and refinishing 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 is a range of benefits for refinishing your floors. For example:
- Refinishing hardwood floors may add value to your home.
- Hardwood refinishing also 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.
If you're ready to give your wood flooring an upgrade, start reaching out to hardwood floor refinishers near you and ask for free cost estimates.