How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Typical Range:

$1,076 - $2,522

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 18,333 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated June 7, 2022

Reviewed by Andy Kilborn, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Average cost to refinish wood floors ranges $3 to $8 per square foot

When it's time to refinish, restain, or simply freshen up your hardwood floors, you'll pay between $1,076 and $2,522—or about $1,798 on average for the job. The cost to refinish hardwood floors varies widely based on several factors, from the size of the room to how much TLC your floorboards need to restore them to their original beauty.

For example, full refinishing costs between $3 to $8 per square foot, while a simple recoating runs $1 to $2 per square foot. The cost of labor, bulk prices for large rooms, and the current state of your floorboards all play an important role in the final price tag.

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National Average $1,798
Typical Range $1,076 - $2,522
Low End - High End $600 - $4,200

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 18,333 HomeAdvisor members.

Cost Factors

Let's start by breaking down the three main steps of refinishing hardwood floors: sanding, staining, and recoating. 

  • Sanding: A drum sander removes the topcoat of stain and levels any remaining minor scratches, stains, or inconsistencies. 

  • Staining: If you need to change the color of your floors, professionals will add one or more coats of stain at this stage.

  • Recoating: An oil or water-based topcoat protects the floors from scratches and stains in the future.

Your refinishing project also presents a great opportunity to repair any underlying structural issues, scratches, or stains, so remember to budget for the cost of hardwood floor repairs into your final total.

On the other hand, not every floor requires all three steps. If your floors are in good shape but just need a new topcoat, you may be able to skip the sanding and staining. Here's how to break down the prices piece by piece.

Staining

Staining is only necessary if you want to change or reinvigorate the color of your floors. The process adds between $1 to $3 per square foot to the final cost, broken down between labor and the cost of materials. Much like painting a room, the per-gallon price range depends on the type and quality of the stain—typically between $30 and $100 per gallon.

Finishing and Coating

Recoating costs between $1 and $2 per square foot and ranges based on labor cost and the type of coating you choose. 

  • Oil-based topcoat costs $20 to $40 per gallon, adds a slight amber hue to your floor, and takes up to 10 hours to dry.

  • Water-based topcoat dries clear but costs a bit more, at $25 to $50 a gallon, and only takes between two and four hours to dry.

Adding a topcoat of polyurethane protects your floor from future damage while providing that high-quality shine. Depending on the initial state of your floors, recoating is either the final step in the larger process or the only step you need.

Materials

Flooring professionals will include the cost of tools and materials in their price, which is important to know when weighing the pros and cons of doing this yourself. As we'll mention below, DIY costs for renting a sander and gathering tools can cost upwards of $1,000

When working with a pro, material costs will only vary by the size of the room, the type of stain and topcoat you choose, and your local prices.

Labor

Since labor plays a significant role in the cost of refinishing hardwood floors—as much as 80% or $2 to $5 per square foot—be sure to get a few estimates to compare prices. The cost will come down to:

  • Labor prices where you live

  • The extent of the refinishing process

  • The size of the room (some pros offer bulk discounts)

  • Other factors that affect the length of the project (i.e., drying time, local humidity, type of wood)

Size of Room

Floor pros will use the size of your space as one of the most important factors in your estimate. However, you could end up with some bulk savings if you choose to refinish a larger area of your floors all at once. Some companies offer discount rates for larger spaces to encourage larger jobs. 

Also, keep in mind that smaller projects must cover the cost of overhead such as materials, transportation, and material shipping costs, so they may not look as cost-effective as refinishing larger spaces.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs per Square Foot
Room SizeSquare FeetAverage Cost
4x1040$200 – $350
10x10100$300 – $500
12x12144$450 – $750
16x16256$800 – $1,300
20x20400$1,200 – $2,000
24x24576$1,750 – $2,900

Supply Chain

Major world events of the past several years—particularly the COVID-19 pandemic—altered the availability and price of major renovation materials. Speak with your prospective floor professionals about how supply chain issues can affect the cost of hardwood floorboard replacement, stain and topcoat, and necessary tools for the refinishing process. You may also need to set aside extra time for the process to allow for shipping delays.

Moving Furniture

Unless you're prepping to move into a new home, you'll need to make sure your furniture is safe and sound for the refinishing process. Some companies will charge between $20 and $50 per room to move it for you. If you're up for moving it yourself, this will cut down your final bill.

Traditional vs. Dustless

Dustless finishing requires higher-tech equipment and, therefore, costs between $5 and $8 per square foot. The second they switch on that sander, a good amount of dust from the finish and top layer of wood kick up into the air. If you have allergy sensitivities or breathing difficulties, the dustless refinishing method uses a vacuum fan to reroute the dust as it sands. 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood

While the price to refinish engineered floors is about the same—at $3 to $6 per square foot—it does take professional experience to pull off the delicate removal. And it sure beats the $3 to $25 per square foot to install new engineered hardwood floors. Always leave engineered floor finishing to the professionals to avoid damaging the thin layer of real wood that tops the flooring. 

Carpeting

Discovering stunning hardwood floorboards beneath old carpeting opens your home to new possibilities. Removing wall-to-wall carpeting runs from $.25 to $1.50 per square foot, including the cost of disposal. Keep in mind that the floors underneath carpeting may require an extra pass with the sander or even some repairs, so this may push the cost higher.

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Screen or Buffing Hardwood Floors Cost

You can take a different route with lightly worn floorboards by cutting out the sanding and staining process. Screening—AKA buffing—uses a thinner sanding disk to remove the thin topcoat of your floors without affecting the wood below. You'll pay between $1 to $2.50 per square foot for this step.

Hardwood Floor Polishing Cost

Polishing hardwood keeps your floors looking new between coats and refinishes. If you take on the job yourself—which is very doable—expect to pay between $20 to $50 a gallon for hardwood floor polish, about $20 for the sponge mop to spread the polish, and between $15 and $30 for the microfiber mop to finish it off.

Types of Hardwood Flooring

No matter the type of wood you're working with, the cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors remains about the same. The price fluctuations come down to the unique needs of each wood or manufactured material. Flooring professionals may also have more experience with common materials such as oak and may charge less than specialty ones like bamboo hardwood floors. Here are some important details to note:

  • Oak: Most common and durable type of hardwood floors and easy to refinish

  • Cherry: Common, durable, and the wood's smooth service makes it a simple refinishing project to refinish

  • Parquet: Requires specialty sanding due to the inconsistent grain

  • Engineered Hardwood: A professional should handle the specialty sanding of the thin top layer

  • Pine: Softer than other woods and require special sanding care

  • Maple: Can be difficult to stain without a blotchy result

  • Mahogany: Require slow, delicate sanding to avoid damaging dark hue

  • Bamboo: Must be sanded at an angle in the first round to prevent splintering

Hardwood Refinishing vs. Replacement

Costs to refinish versus replace hardwood, with refinishing ranging $3 to $8 per square foot

Original hardwood floors can last over a century when well-cared-for and properly finished. Refinishing your hardwood floors will also cost two to three times less than replacing them. 

Installing a new hardwood floor costs $6 to $12 per square foot, not to mention the $1 to $13 per square foot to remove the original boards. The average cost to replace hardwood floors ranges between $2,500 and $6,800 depending on the type of wood, availability of supply, and labor costs.

You can, however, replace individual floorboards in the case of:

  • Water damage

  • Subflooring structural issues

  • Uneven boards

  • Extreme scratches, dings, and stains

  • Brittle wood that is too thin to sand

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Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself

Between the sander, finishing materials, and all the necessary tools, DIY hardwood floor refinishing will run you between $500 and $1000. 

The cost comes with a caveat, however. Refinishing hardwood floors yourself is not a recommended DIY project. If you oversand the top layer or incorrectly apply the stain or topcoat, repairs can be costly—and even require replacement.

“Refinishing hardwood floors is a good DIY if you have experience and the tools, but it’s best left to professionals due to the risk of damaging your floors as well as the dust associated with a rental sander,” says Andy Kilborn, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor. 

Adding a new topcoat or polishing your floors is a bit more DIY-friendly, but only for confident homeowners comfortable with these tricky materials.

All in all, refinishing hardwood floors yourself breaks down into two main costs.

Cost to Rent a Floor Sander

Rent a drum floor sander from your local hardware store or flooring company for between $50 and $80 per day. Larger projects that involve multiple floors may require several days of work, in which case you'll pay between $100 and $200 for a weekend or around $250 for the whole week

Other DIY Costs

Be sure to chat with a flooring specialist when choosing the right finish for your floors. Using the correct color, variety, and application tools is crucial. These include:

  • Polyurethane finish: $40–$100 a gallon (You'll need 1 gallon per 300-square feet.)

  • Clear varnish: $170–$360

  • Finish application brushes and rollers: $50

  • Painter's rags: $13 for 5 pounds

Additional sanding materials and tools include:

  • Edger: About $40 rental for the day

  • Handheld belt sander: $60–$100

  • Sandpaper for sanders: $60

  • Claw hammer: $25

  • Nail set: $10

  • Hand scraper: $35

  • Mop: $20

  • Microfiber mop: $15–$30

  • Trash bags: $25

Safety equipment is a must when handling potent chemicals like finish and varnish, as well as when handling power sanders. These include:

  • Safety goggles: $10

  • Work gloves: $10

  • Respirator: $30

  • Shop vacuum: $70–$170

  • Knee pads: $10 a pair

DIY Hardwood Refinishing vs. Hiring a Pro

Hiring a professional floor refinisher near you may cost more than doing it yourself, but it is often—if not always—worth the cost. Protecting the longevity of your hardwood floors is a long-term investment, and DIY refinishing can easily go wrong. Common mistakes include:

  • Sanding too deep into the wood

  • Scratching the wood with the edge of the sander

  • Oversanding engineered wood

  • Ignoring major repairs before refinishing

  • Failing to remove varnish before sanding

Even if you hire a professional, you'll still play a role in getting the refinishing process rolling. You'll need to clear the room, assess the state of hardwood floors, and collaborate with professionals about your ideal stain color and finished look.

Also, between the odors and dust, the process can be a bit disruptive—so many a game plan for staying elsewhere if necessary.

Questions to Ask a Wood Flooring Contractor

We recommend speaking to at least three flooring contractors to compare estimates and the team's background. When chatting with potential pros, ask:

  • Do you have experience refinishing my specific type of flooring?

  • Do you have recommendations for protecting my floors?

  • Can you provide references and testimonials?

  • How long will the project take?

  • How many workers will there be on the team?

  • What are your safety and ventilation procedures?

  • What is your payment schedule?

  • Do you charge extra to move furniture or dispose of debris?

FAQs

How often should I refinish my hardwood floor?

Refinish hardwood floors every seven to 10 years, depending on the amount of wear and tear they receive during this time. You can also refinish your floors after removing wall-to-wall carpeting or after significant disrepair from traffic, sun, or water damage.

Is it cheaper to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

Refinishing your hardwood floors cost two to three times less than replacing them. You'll pay between $7 and $25 per square foot for replacement and just $3 to $8 per square foot for refinishing.

What are the signs I need to refinish my hardwood floors?

Visible scratches, structural issues, or stains from sun and water indicate it's time to refinish your hardwood floors. Boards will turn gray and even begin to buckle from water damage, for example. The effects of UV rays through your window can also cause inconsistencies in the color of your floors. Refinishing is a chance to address underlying subfloor repairs and protect the floorboards from the elements.

How long does it take to sand and refinish a hardwood floor?

Set at least two to three days aside for the refinishing process and up to a week if you need to add several layers of finish or make major repairs. Some finish coats take between 10 and 24 hours to properly dry without traffic.

Can I refinish a floor without sanding?

Sanding is crucial to refinishing a floor properly. You need to remove the original topcoat to remove scratches and inconsistencies before refinishing. However, you do not need to sand if you are simply recoating or polishing floors without underlying damage.

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