The Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors:

7 Things you need to know
cost to refinish hardwood floors

You knew hardwood floors are lovely and can last a lifetime, which is why you chose to have them installed. However, there are maintenance routines that you have to do to keep them in good condition. One of them is refinishing your hardwood floors. It is a major work that needs to be done every few years.

Before you embark on this project though, you should first differentiate if you really need to refinish or just to recoat them. In this article, we will explain the difference between the two, and provide guidance that will help you understand what would be the average cost to refinish your hardwood floors.

1. Recoating Cost

If you take good care of your hardwood floor, you may never have to refinish it.

Polyurethane is the top coat used when finishing hardwood floors. Due to foot traffic, this protective coating gets thin. It is therefore a preventive measure to strip the old layer and apply a new coating. Stripping the old layer will ensure that the new finish will adhere well.

This measure is significantly cheaper than refinishing your hardwood floor completely. Recoating hardwood floors cost around $1.25 to $1.75 per square foot.

2. Refinishing Cost and Factors that affect it

Refinishing any wood floor involves sanding the floor to expose the original wood face. The average hardwood floor refinishing cost per square foot, if done by a professional contractor is $3.30 to $3.70.

There are of course various factors that could lower or increase the cost such as location, wood specie, quality of finish, condition of floor, accessibility and permit fees.

3. Sample Refinishing Calculation

Here’s a sample list of the costs that are involved with refinishing hardwood flooring. From this calculation we can derive a sample cost per square foot. You can get a similar computation from any floor refinishing contractor or through a cost to refinish hardwood floors calculator.

Room Area: 250 square feet
Floor Refinishing Materials $116.44
Waterbased polyurethane in gloss or satin finish
Includes delivery
Floor Refinishing Labor $802.46
Includes preparation & removal of debris
Sanding of existing layer and application of finish
Includes equipment, setup and cleanup
Floor Refinishing Supplies $86.10
Fasteners, adhesives and sealants
Floor Refinishing Equipment $82.50
Drum style sander and edger rental for 2 days
TOTAL $1,087.50

To calculate the cost per square foot:

$1,087.50 divided by 250 square foot = $4.35 cost per square foot to sand and refinish the hardwood floors in this example.

4. Refinishing Hardwood Stairs

The cost of refinishing hardwood stairs will be more expensive. That is because it requires more attention to detail, more time to finish, and the accessibility is not so easy. On average, it can cost you around $40 to $75 per step for a total of $540 to $900 if you have 12 steps. This cost can already include refinishing of the handrails.

5. Choosing a Contractor

There are many professionals that offer floor refinishing services, but you have to choose one wisely. You don’t want to end up being the person who gives the bad review after a bad experience. Getting a referral is a good place to start. If you know someone who hired a refinishing professional before, ask for their experience or even visit their house. Here are some other things you should check when you consider a potential contractor:

  • Check their track record. Ask for a list of previous projects and character references that you could contact for a background check.
  • Ask who will do the work and how many workers. You also need to make sure that someone of authority will be present to supervise the workers.
  • Get a clear commitment on how long it would take to complete the project.
  • Make sure that moving around furniture and appliances are part of the project scope. They should also ensure that these items will be protected.
  • Remind them that they should clean the area after the project is completed. Also ask about their cleanup process and how they would protect the rest of the house that is not a part of the project.
  • Ask for fair payment terms and a guarantee for the work done.

6. DIY Refinishing Cost

Can hardwood floor refinishing be done DIY? Of course it can. But you need to seriously consider how much would it cost to refinish your hardwood floors yourself. It will entail a lot of time and effort on your end. If the savings are not that significant, you should save yourself from all the trouble and get a professional to restore your floors instead.

To get ready to do it by yourself, you will need to rent a commercial sander. Home improvement stores offer them for rent at around $60 per day. You also have to rent an edger at $37 per day. You can also check the price at your local hardware stores.

In addition, there are other tools that you will need to acquire for your refinishing project, unless you already have them at home: a claw hammer, belt sander, vacuum, mop, nail set, paint rollers, safety glasses and respirator. These would cost you a minimum of $230.

As for consumable materials that you need to buy for the project, they include: sandpaper for the sander, paint roller covers, polyurethane, paintbrush, rags and trash bags. For an 800-square foot floor, it would cost you around $300.

7. DIY Refinishing Risks

Since most homeowners lack the experience and expertise that is required for floor refinishing, making a crucial mistake can damage your floor and lead to higher costs.

One of the major risks includes improper use of the belt sander and leaving behind an ugly scratch mark.

Another risk is failing to strip off the old coating completely, which can cause problems to the new coat. It is also possible that you didn’t fill in the cracks and holes before applying the finish, resulting in a sloppy finish. These are just some of the risks and mistakes that could happen when you choose to do the project yourself.

Finally, here’s another important reminder: Before you begin with the refinishing process, you also need to check whether the wood is still thick enough to receive another round of sanding. If it isn't, you will have no choice but to replace the floors, since wooden floors that were sanded too many times will be too thin and may be damaged if you try to refinish them.


If you’re planning to refinish your hardwood floors anytime soon, we hope this article has helped you plan your budget and weigh your options.

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