How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

You don’t have to replace your hardwood floor if it develops scratches or dents. Refinishing is an option to rejuvenate the flooring by removing the finish. Apply color treatments to the floor and seal it with a top coat finish. This will give the floor the look of a new floor at a fraction of its cost.
The average cost to refinish a hardwood flooring is $1,828, but this can vary depending upon many factors. This includes the cost and availability of labor. The average cost per square foot is between $3 and $8. However, these costs may vary depending on the size of your area to be refinished as well as the complexity of work. You may be able to get a lower price per square feet if you hire a contractor who will refinish all the floors in your home. This varies from flooring installer to flooring installer.

Refinishing hardwood steps instead of a flooring can cost between $40 and $75 per tread. This is because the smaller surfaces require more time and skill to finish.

This guide will give you a detailed breakdown of the cost to refinish your hardwood floors.

Hardwood Signs that Need Refinishing
Hardwood floors can last up to 10 years before they need to be refinished. However, if the floor starts to look worn, you may want to hire a professional to update its appearance. Refinishing hardwood floors is necessary if there are major scratches or dents, protrusions, or splinters in the wood. There may also be discoloration, fading or water stains.

It may be time to plan for this project if you see any of these signs. Prepare a budget and research the costs to hire a professional to refinish your hardwood floors.
Hire a flooring professional before hiring a contractor
You will need to do some research on the cost of refinishing the hardwood floors, create a budget and find a professional flooring company. You can narrow down your options by researching different companies in the locality. You can find a lot of useful information on the websites of companies, but it is also worthwhile to contact their customer service department for any answers you might need.

Ask about the experience of the company, their certifications, photos of past jobs and if you can speak to any previous clients for references. Ask the company if they can give you a schedule of sanding. It is important to note that companies who are trying to cut costs will only perform two passes instead of three or five. After you’ve done some research, ask any questions that you may still have to the customer service department, or directly to the flooring professional. This will ensure you are fully informed before you hire a flooring professional to refinish your hardwood.
What to ask a professional in the flooring industry:
Is the estimate inclusive of the cost for moving furniture and cleaning the house?
How long will it take to complete the work?
Do you provide a warranty on your products?
Are you insured?
Are there any options for payment plans?
How can I protect my house from dust?
When can I walk over the floor once it has been refinished?
What is the best type of stain or coating for my floor?
What can you do if damage occurs during the work?

Refinishing Process
The process is the same whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor. Estimates should include four main labor components of a hardwood floor refinishing.

The preparation process involves repairing any damaged areas and cleaning the flooring thoroughly. Once the floor is clean, it must be completely dried and free of particles and dust. The cost of labor varies from $2 to $8 per sq. foot, or $60 to $150 per hour. Before refinishing, the floor may need to be treated separately if it has deep stains. Replacement of broken or missing boards is required. All protruding nails heads will be driven below the surface. Most contractors also remove the baseboard shoe mouldings so that sanding machines can reach the edges of the walls. Then, the moldings will be replaced once the sanding is complete.

Sanding is the grinding down of the surface of the wood floor to the point where any imperfections or treatments have been penetrated. Sanding costs between $0.50 and $3 per square foot. The work is typically done using a walk-behind upright power sander equipped with a sanding screen or disc. Edge work is usually done using an edging or belt sander. The floor should be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed after sanding.

After the floor is sanded, it will look like new untreated hardwood. Some people apply a finish directly to the bare wood, depending on the species of wood. You can also apply dyes and stains before applying the surface finish to colorize the wood. The cost of staining is $1 to $3 for every square foot. Standard wood stain comes in oil- or waterbased. It is applied with a staining pad or cloth.

Top Coating
The final step involves applying a durable, tough topcoat, which is usually a polyurethane based on oil or water. The average cost of coating is $1 to $2 per sq. foot. Top coats are applied using a roller and brush or a finish pad. They usually include two or three coats. Polyurethane is available in a variety of gloss finishes, ranging from flat to high sheen. It is possible to buff the final coat in order to enhance its smoothness and sheen.

Factors that affect the cost of refinishing hardwood floors
The final cost to refinish hardwood floors can be affected by a variety of factors, including floor dimensions, hardwood flooring type, local labor costs and company experience.

Floor Dimensions
You can expect to pay more for a large floor refinishing job than if you only refinished the floor of a single space. It is more expensive per square foot to refinish a smaller space, but floor refinishers will give you a discount if they finish multiple rooms, or the entire house.

Hardwood Flooring Types
There are many types of hardwood flooring, such as oak, cherry, parquet and engineered hardwood. The cost per square feet does not differ significantly between the different flooring types. However, the slight differences in price could have an impact on the final estimate.

Local labor costs
Contracting companies in major metropolitan areas will charge more because their services are in greater demand. The size of the city does not affect the cost to refinish the floors. Costs can vary depending on the region or state because of local economic conditions. If you live in New York you might only have to pay between $970 and $2,250, but South Carolina residents will be paying much more, anywhere from $2,250 up to $4,300.

Company Experience
There are companies that offer hardwood refinishing at very low prices. You usually get what you pay, so bargain-basement prices may result in subpar work, or a job that takes longer than it should. The cost of fixing these mistakes could be more than the initial project. It’s therefore best to choose a company that has experience.

Other Factors
Moving furniture, removing the old flooring, cleaning, minor repairs and other factors can also affect the cost.

Before you begin the project, it is necessary to remove all furniture and furnishings from the room. It is not usually included in a project estimate, and contractors may charge extra if they have to do it themselves.
Refinishing contractors will charge you extra if you need to remove carpet, vinyl, or any other type of flooring.
Repairs: Refinishing a damaged floor will not work. The floor must be repaired in this situation before it can undergo refinishing. The majority of refinishers are happy to do this, but at a higher price than a handyman.
Cleaning: Refinishing hardwood floors can be messy. If the cleaning is not included in the bid of the contractor, you will need to include the cost of a professional cleaning service in your total project costs.

Refinishing vs. Replacing
The process of refinishing floors is very similar to that of refacing kitchen cabinets. The majority of your existing materials are kept, but you can improve their appearance at a lower cost than replacing them. You could also hire professional flooring installers or carpenters to install a hardwood floor. The process is longer and can cost between $2,500 and $6,800.

Professional hardwood floor refinishing costs range from $1,084 up to $2,572. Sanding the floor removes dents, scratches and blemishes. You can use a stain to change the color or a sealant to maintain the look of the wood grain. It can appear as if a new floor was installed after adding a glossy top coat.

Refinishing: DIY or Professional?
It is not recommended for DIY enthusiasts to tackle a floor refinishing job unless they are experienced in floor maintenance, repairs and installations. A professional will charge you $1,821 for a floor finishing project. However, a DIYer with some experience will only need to spend $500-$1,000 for the tools, materials and other supplies needed.

If you decide to do this yourself instead of hiring someone, then the savings will be between $821 and $1321. Remember that your results will reflect the level of your expertise. If you sand too much or incorrectly, it could lead to irreparable damage and the need to replace the hardwood flooring. This is a costly undertaking. Hiring a local flooring professional is the best option.

Safety Considerations
Refinishing hardwood floors can be a messy and chaotic process. This process can create large amounts of sawdust that can cause asthmatic reactions or allergies.
You will usually apply stains and other finishes after sanding your floor. These can emit strong chemical odors. The chemicals in sealants and stains can accumulate in a closed space if the area isn’t well ventilated. This could be dangerous to your health. Open at least one window or door and use a fan for ventilation.


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