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What Is the Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors?

The cost to refinish hardwood floors ranges between $3 and $8 per square foot but varies based on your project size and flooring options. Our guide explains the various cost factors, refinishing options, and ways to save on your project.

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Default Author Icon Written by Angela Bunt Updated 05/14/2024

While hardwood floors are extremely durable, they need to be refinished from time to time to remain in good repair. The average cost of a professional floor refinishing project is $1,800, but the cost varies based on square footage and other factors. Flooring pros usually charge $3–$8 per square foot to refinish hardwood floors, so a single bedroom could cost $300–$800, while a whole home could range from $2,400–$6,000. We outline hardwood floor refinishing cost factors and answer some frequently asked questions below.

Note: Cost data in this article was sourced from Angi, Fixr, and The Home Depot.

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Typical Price Range: $3 – $8 per square foot
Hardwood Floor Refinishing
Hardwood Floor Refinishing

A typical professional floor refinishing project costs $3–$8 per square foot.

Hardwood Floor Installation

The average cost of installing hardwood floors is between $6 and 8 per square foot.

Floor Joist
Subfloor Repairs

Based on the severity of repairs you can expect to pay $6–$8 per square foot.


Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost Factors

The cost to refinish a hardwood floor varies based on the following factors:

  • Size: The more square footage that needs refinishing, the more it will cost.
  • Materials: Some wood types need more care and take more time to refinish than others.
  • Labor: Up to 80% of the final project cost can go to labor.
  • Coating or finishing: Different treatments and topcoats will add to the total.

Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors by Square Footage

The square footage of your hardwood floors has the greatest impact on the total cost of your refinishing project. Fortunately, the cost per square foot often decreases the larger the project is. Since the flooring contractor will already have their equipment set up, they can price the overall cost for a whole-home refinishing project a little lower.

Room Square FootageApproximate Cost

Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors by Material

The refinishing process is the same for most hardwood floors, but some types of wood require extra care and time. Common wood types such as oak and cherry are durable and popular, so most contractors have ample experience working with them and can finish the project quickly. On the other hand, softer woods that scratch easily or harder woods that struggle to absorb wood stains may take longer and cost more to refinish.

In addition, choosing real or faux wood flooring will impact costs. Solid wood flooring, which consists of solid wood boards, is the most familiar but can be expensive. It can warp in high humidity, so it’s unsuitable for damp climates or below-grade flooring, like in basements. On the other hand, it can last for decades and be refinished up to 12 times, making it a popular choice. Vinyl, laminate, and porcelain tile flooring are all available in finishes that look like real wood. They can’t be refinished but are much less expensive to install and repair.

  • Bamboo: Bamboo flooring has gained popularity due to its durability, eco-friendly sustainability, and distinctive visual appeal. This natural material has an extremely hard surface that is highly resistant to scratches and daily wear.
  • Cherry wood: Cherry is a reddish-brown hardwood with a uniform grain. It is moderately hard, durable, and easy to refinish. 
  • Engineered wood: Engineered wood flooring contains a top layer of real hardwood attached to a plywood base, providing more subflooring and installation options. Some types of engineered hardwood can be refinished, though usually only once or twice in a usable lifetime.
  • Mahogany: Mahogany is a dense, durable hardwood known for its luxurious appearance. It is stable and resistant to warping and shrinking.
  • Maple: Maple is one of North America’s hardest and most durable woods. It offers exceptional resistance to wear, dents, and other impacts, making it an ideal flooring choice for high-traffic areas.
  • Oak: Oak is a popular and common hardwood style with a distinctive wood grain. It has a versatile appearance, making it suitable for various home designs. 
  • Parquet: This flooring style consists of smaller pieces of wood, like tiles, that create geometric patterns such as herringbone, basketweave, and checkerboard. Parquet flooring offers a retro look and has many of the same benefits as solid hardwood. 
  • Pine: Pine is a softwood with a knotty grain pattern and a lighter yellow color. Compared to hardwoods, it’s more susceptible to dents and scratches but is more affordable.
Type of WoodCost per Square Foot
Engineered wood$3–$5

Labor Costs for Refinishing Hardwood

As with many home improvement projects, a large chunk of the cost of refinishing hardwood floors—as much as 80%—goes to labor. Refinishing hardwood floors requires significant preparation and cleanup, plus the use of heavy equipment. Flooring contractors more often charge by area than by time, but most estimates say that professionals can refinish 100 square feet of hardwood flooring in approximately five hours. That puts the cost of labor at about $60–$160 per hour.

Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors by Coating or Finishing

The term “refinishing” can refer to a few different things. Here is an overview of the steps involved in the refinishing process.

  • Sanding: Sanding is the first step and involves a floor sander. It helps remove the existing finish and any dents, scratches, and discoloration. 
  • Staining: After sanding, many homeowners also apply stains to the sanded wood to change its appearance. If you want to keep it in its natural state, you can skip this step. 
  • Topcoats: Polyurethane topcoats come in several types and may be oil-based or water-based. Oil-based topcoats add a durable, long-lasting finish with a slight tint. Water-based topcoats are clear, helping to enhance the wood’s natural color. 
  • Wax finish: A wax finish offers a softer matte finish to your floor. It’s less durable than polyurethane and requires more frequent reapplication. 
  • Recoating: If your floor is in exceptionally good condition, you may be able to recoat it without sanding it first. This recoating process tends to be more economical than a full refinishing job while still restoring dull or lightly scratched hardwood floors to a refreshed appearance.
  • Buffing: Buffing lightly polishes your existing finish to help restore and extend the life of your floor’s finish. It can be done as maintenance between refinishing projects.
Sanding$3–$5.50 per sq.ft.
Staining$1–$3 per sq.ft.
Oil–based topcoat$20–$50 per gallon
Water–based topcoat$30–$55 per gallon
Wax finish$35–$55 per gallon
Recoating$1–$2 per sq.ft.
Buffing$1–$2.50 per sq.ft.

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What Additional Factors Affect the Cost of Hardwood Refinishing? 

Refinishing the wood is only part of the process—preparation, repair, and cleanup are also important steps. Work that may or may not be included in the base price is as follows: 

  • Condition: Refinishing will take care of dings and light scratches, but deep scratches, gouges, and loose floorboards must be repaired before the process begins. This can cost from $6–$12 per square foot.
  • Subfloor: If your home has sustained water damage, the subflooring will likely need repair for $3–$10 per square foot.
  • Carpeting: Removal and disposal of old carpet usually costs $1–$5 per square foot.
  • Furniture: Flooring contractors may or may not move furniture. Hiring someone to do so usually costs $20–$50 per room.
  • Clean up: Contractors will typically clean between sanding and refinishing, but if you want the floor cleaned after, it usually costs $60 to $160 per hour. However, some contractors include cleanup services. 
  • Type of refinishing: The sanding included in traditional refinishing tends to make a mess. Some contractors offer dustless refinishing using commercial vacuums, but this will usually cost $5 to $8 per square foot.

DIY vs. Professional Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Hiring a professional to refinish hardwood floors means high labor costs, so some homeowners opt to do it themselves. This is a do-it-yourself (DIY) project of at least moderate difficulty that entails more than just running a floor sander and painting on a layer of varnish. If your floor needs substantial repairs and you don’t already have the tools and materials to perform them, you may end up spending more money than if you had hired a professional.

If you have experience refinishing floors or your wood is still in very good condition, you can attempt to refinish hardwood floors yourself. Be aware, though, that it will likely take you longer than it would a crew of professionals. In most cases, you’re better off hiring experienced floor contractors to do the job.

Signs That Your Hardwood Floors Need Refinishing

When properly protected, hardwood floors only need refinishing every seven to 10 years.  You’ll strip off a thin layer of wood each time you refinish, so you shouldn’t do it too often. Consider refinishing your hardwood floors if you notice the following signs: 

  • You can see multiple dents, scratches, or gouges.
  • Water soaks into the wood, turning it gray or black.
  • The stain is fading, particularly in areas exposed to sunlight.
  • The finish looks dull in high-traffic areas.
  • The boards are warping or separating.

How To Refinish Hardwood Floors

Whether you’re doing the job yourself or just want to know how the process works, here are the typical steps that go into a refinishing project:

  1. Remove all furniture and carpeting from the room.
  2. Seal off doorways with plastic sheeting and seal electrical sockets and other crevices with tape to prevent sanding dust from spreading. 
  3. Wearing a dust mask, begin sanding with a medium-grade disc and work up to a finer grit. Use an edging sander to get in corners.
  4. Vacuum the room in between sandings. When finished, wipe the floor with a damp cloth.
  5. If using wood stain, apply a thin, even layer, working quickly and methodically to avoid leaving overlapping marks. Use a rag to wipe away excess stain and allow it to fully dry.
  6. Wearing a respirator, apply three layers of polyurethane topcoat. Wait at least an hour between coats, and sand the first two coats with a very fine grit.
  7. Wait at least 48 hours before walking on the new hardwood finish, and wait several days before moving furniture back into the room.

DIY Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors

If you choose to refinish your floors yourself, you can expect to pay a total of $500–$1,000 for materials, rentals, and safety equipment. Here are the major expenses to expect, aside from common tools like hammers, paintbrushes, scrapers, and rags:

  • Drum sander: $50–$80 per day
  • Edger: $35–$45 per day
  • Belt sander: $15–$25 per day
  • Shop vacuum: $40–$180
  • Sandpaper: $30–$60
  • Plastic sheeting: $12–$25 per roll
  • Tape: $5–$7 per roll
  • Nails: $5–$15
  • Stain: $20–$60 per gallon
  • Polyurethane topcoat: $20–$50 per gallon
  • Rollers, roller covers, and extension poles: $30–$60
  • Knee pads: $10–$20
  • Safety goggles: $5–$15
  • Respirator: $30–$70

How To Save Money on Refinishing Hardwood Floors

It can be expensive to have your floors refinished. Here are some ways you can lower costs:

  • Complete the prep work: Do as much prep work as you can yourself. Remove all furniture and sweep or mop the floor. If you’re removing carpet, pull it up and dispose of it yourself. 
  • Take on buffing and cleaning: Do the final buffing and cleaning yourself. Let the contractor know that their job is complete after the varnish dries.
  • Get multiple quotes: Contact at least three flooring contractors for price estimates. Beware of potentially unprofessional contractors charging far below-average prices.
  • Purchase your material: If you can, purchase some materials, such as the stain or topcoat, yourself. Ask your contractor beforehand if they’ll work with the materials you provide.
  • Avoid refinishing during the busy season: When possible, schedule the refinishing at a time when demand is lower. For example, flooring contractors usually aren’t as busy during winter and may offer lower rates.

How To Hire a Flooring Contractor

Choosing the right contractor can be daunting. Here are some things to look out for when comparing flooring contractors.

  • Contractors don’t need a license to install or refinish floors, but many states have a licensing or certification process, so look for refinishers who meet these criteria.
  • Ask your contractor for proof of insurance. Any contracting business should be insured and bonded.
  • Look at the company’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and customer reviews to vet its reputation and how it handles complaints.
  • When receiving an estimate, ask which stages in the process are included. Ask whether things such as prep work and cleaning cost extra.
  • Ask how long the job is likely to take and how long the rooms will need to remain clear of furniture while the topcoat hardens.
  • If price is a concern, ask about financing or payment plan options. Avoid contractors asking for full payment upfront.

Additional Questions for Your Installer 

Below are questions you should ask any potential flooring installer:

  • Do you have references from satisfied customers or a portfolio I could look through?
  • What are the warranty details covering both the materials used and the refinishing labor?
  • How do you protect surrounding areas such as cabinets and vents from potential dust or stains during the floor refinishing process?
  • Do you provide any cleaning products or maintenance instructions for properly caring for the new floors long-term?

Is Refinishing Hardwood Floors Worth It?

Yes, refinishing your hardwood floors is worth it. Refinishing not only restores your valuable hardwood floors, but it’s also the more cost-effective solution compared to installing new flooring from scratch. Professionally refinished hardwood floors revive your home’s interior with a fresh, polished look that can boost its value. Though some homeowners may feel comfortable attempting it themselves, refinishing hardwood floors is most often a job for professionals. When done properly by experts, hardwood floor refinishing should only be needed once every 10 years to keep your floors looking spectacular and extend their lifespan. 

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Typical Price Range: $3 – $8 per square foot

FAQ About Refinishing Hardwood Floors

How much does it cost to refinish 500 square feet of hardwood floors?

At $3–$8 per square foot, it typically costs between $1,500 and $4,000 to refinish 500 square feet of hardwood flooring.

How often do hardwood floors need to be refinished?

Hardwood floors need to be refinished every seven to 10 years to last as long as possible.

How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?

It usually takes three to five days to refinish hardwood floors, though the time may vary based on the square footage of floor treated, the type of topcoat, and the environment’s humidity level.

What should I know before I refinish my hardwood floors?

Before refinishing your hardwood floors, consider the following:

  • Leaving dirt to linger on your hardwood floors can scratch away the finish.
  • If it’s not time to refinish yet, a deep cleaning can often restore your floor’s shine.
  • Some products called “floor renewers” or “floor revivers” can refresh the look of the floor finish without requiring sanding first.
  • When your hardwood develops deep scratches, gouges, or gaps, it’s time to refinish.
  • Darker wood stains don’t hide dirt—they actually make dust more visible.
  • Satin finishes are more slip-resistant than glossy finishes.

Can you refinish hardwood floors without sanding?

Although some purists might not consider it a true refinishing job, you can get rid of scratches that don’t reach all the way down to the wood without sanding first. You can rent a floor buffer and then apply a layer of topcoat.

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