Erin Gobler6-minute read
UPDATED: May 23, 2023
Hardwood floors are one of the most desirable features many homeowners hope to have in their homes. The reason many shy away from them is simply the cost – hardwood floors are expensive to install. However, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon the perfect home that already includes them. Depending on the age and condition of the floors, they might just need a bit of refinishing.
Are you considering refinishing the hardwood floors in your home? In this article, we’ll share factors that affect the price and some other costs you should expect.
The cost to refinish hardwood floors depends on many factors but is usually $1,000 – $2,500. Keep in mind, the majority of this cost goes towards labor. Included in this labor is the process of prepping the floors, sanding them, staining them, and finally, applying the topcoat.
As you can see, there’s a significant range that your refinishing costs can fall into. The overall average cost is about $1,793, with a cost of $3 – $8 per square foot. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. And according to HomeAdvisor, a more complex refinishing job could cost as much as $4,000.
The good news is that while the cost of refinishing hardwood floors might sound steep, it's considerably cheaper than the cost of replacing the floors altogether. Additionally, once the floors have been properly refinished, the ongoing maintenance and cleaning are minimal.
Remember that the cost of refinishing hardwood floors depends on a variety of factors, which we’ll discuss later in this piece.
As we mentioned, while the cost of refinishing hardwood floors generally ranges from $1,000 to $2,500, there are several factors that will affect the final price tag.
It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the size of the space is one of the most important factors determining the refinishing costs. As we mentioned, the cost generally ranges from $3 – $8 per square foot. As a result, the more square feet there are to finish, the higher the price tag will be. As we mentioned, most of the total price is due to the labor costs, and the larger the space, the more work it will be for the professionals you hire to refinish your floors.
The cost of goods and services, in general, varies across the country. Those areas with a generally higher cost of living will also likely have higher costs for refinishing services — and home services in general. Not only does location affect the cost of materials and supplies, but it also affects labor costs.
As we’ve mentioned, the labor costs are responsible for most of the price tag when you have your hardwood floors refinished. Not only do labor costs vary depending on your location, but they’ll also vary from one company to the next within the same area. Additionally, some refinishing jobs may simply require more labor, which will ultimately increase the costs.
Labor is the highest cost when it comes to refinishing your hardwood floors, but there will also be some material costs. Some of the materials needed to finish the job include a sander and sanding belt, a vacuum, plastic sheeting, stain, topcoat and various tools. While the tools themselves don’t necessarily change depending on the size of the job, the amount of stain and topcoat needed will increase with the square footage of the space.
Sanding and staining are two of the most important steps in the refinishing process. The professionals you hire will use both drum sanders and belt sanders to prepare your space, and this process could take several passes before it’s complete. And once the sanding is done, they’ll move on to the staining. The cost of staining depends largely on the type and quality of the stain you choose. There’s a considerable cost difference between the most expensive and most affordable stains. And the cost for both sanding and staining also depends on the square footage of the floors being refinished.
The condition of the hardwood floors could increase or decrease your staining costs. If there’s carpet to be ripped out or considerable scratches or water damage to fix, then your costs will likely be much higher. However, if the floors are already in good condition, then you can expect to pay less for the refinishing job.
In addition to the costs generally associated with refinishing hardwood floors, there may also be some additional ones you’ll incur. We’ll discuss those more below.
If you’re already living in the home, your furniture and other personal belongings will have to be moved out of the space before the refinishing can be done. Additionally, there may be cleanup required after the refinishing is done. And while some contractors may also handle that part of the job, that won’t always be the case. When you schedule your refinishing, be sure to ask about additional costs for furniture removal and cleaning services.
There are generally two types of refinishing: traditional and dustless. In most cases, dustless refinishing creates less mess because a vacuum is attached to the sander to collect the dust as it's being created. This results in less cleanup for the contractors — or for you — after the job is done. It’s also better for those with allergies or breathing problems since it leaves fewer dust particles in the home. However, it may also be more expensive than traditional refinishing.
Tipping isn’t necessarily required when you have your hardwood floors refinished, but it’s certainly appreciated by the contractors and crew. If you decide to tip the professionals working in your home, the general rule of thumb is $10 – $30 per day. However, the amount you tip may also depend on your satisfaction with the work. If you feel the contractor has gone above and beyond, you may choose to tip a higher amount.
The rates we’ve shared so far assume you’re hiring a professional to refinish your floors for you, but that’s not necessarily required. You could DIY this project if you wanted to.
If you’re considering refinishing your floors as a DIY project, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, when you refinish your own floors, you aren’t just responsible for the manual labor. You’re also on the hook for many of the tasks that would have been completed by the contractor, including sourcing and purchasing all of the necessary materials.
Another downside to DIYing your own refinishing job is that if something goes wrong, you’re the only one on the hook for the damage. There’s no one else responsible, and you may end up paying significantly more to have someone fix it than you would have paid to have a professional do the job in the first place.
Ultimately, this type of DIY project can be time-consuming and messy, and even though you aren’t paying labor costs, it can also be costly. Hiring professionals will always yield a better result than doing the job yourself, especially if you have no prior experience.
Refinishing your hardwood floors will be significantly cheaper than replacing them, so if you can go that route, you should. However, some floors may be beyond repair and will require replacing.
Yes, refinishing your hardwood floors can increase your home’s value and make the home more desirable since buyers won’t have to complete a large project when they purchase the home.
Refinishing a hardwood floor can take as little as 3 – 5 days. Keep in mind the time required will depend on the square footage of the space and the condition of the floors. The more work there is for the contractors, the longer the job is likely to take.
It’s generally recommended that you refinish your hardwood floors every 7 – 10 years. Sticking to a regular refinishing schedule can help keep your floors in good condition and prevent having to replace them.
Once your floors have been refinished, avoid walking on them for at least a day, and try to walk on them as little as possible within the first week. After the first week has passed, you can resume regular cleaning of your floors.
Unfortunately, no. You generally can’t remain in the home while your floors are being refinished because of the dust and strong fumes. It’s best to stay out of the house for a few days after the job is done.
Refinishing your hardwood floors can cost anywhere from $1,000 – $2,500, and while that might sound high, it’s considerably cheaper than replacing the floors altogether. Remember your refinishing costs will depend on several factors, including the size of the space and the condition of the floors. You may also incur some additional costs, such as moving, cleaning, tipping and more.
When you buy a home, maintenance such as refinishing your floors is just one of the costs of owning a home to be aware of. It’s important to fully understand these costs before diving into homeownership.