April 16, 2024

KJ Home

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How Much Does It Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors (2024)

6 min read

Typical costs range from $2 to $7 per square foot.

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Homeowners seeking professional refinishing can expect to pay between $3,033 to $5,900, averaging $2 to $7 per square foot. There are also several do-it-yourself (DIY) hardwood refinishing methods. Hardwood floors add a timeless look and character to your home but often require restoration over the years. In this guide, we’ll discuss project cost factors, the benefits and drawbacks of tackling it yourself, and signs that it’s time for a hardwood restoration.

*Unless otherwise noted, cost figures in this article are based on 2024 reports from Realtor.com, RemodelingExpense, and House Digest for 1,500 square feet of flooring.



The Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

The typical cost for hardwood floor refinishing ranges from $3,033 to $5,900, with a national average cost of $4,733. Your overall cost depends on the current condition of the flooring. To completely refinish a hardwood floor, including sanding down the top layer to bare wood and applying several coats of new finish like polyurethane, expect to pay flooring professionals $2 to $7 per square foot.

If your floor appears slightly worn but otherwise in good condition, you could get by on recoating the flooring without sanding. This is typically a low cost of $1.50 to $5 per square foot.

Cost by Hardwood Floor Material

The most significant cost factor of refinishing hardwood flooring is the type of wood. Below, we break down the average cost per square foot to refinish different hardwood flooring options and their benefits and drawbacks.

  • Bamboo ($3 to $6): Bamboo flooring’s hardness rivals traditional hardwood options, such as oak, and provides durability suitable for high-traffic areas. Its sleek, modern appearance offers a versatile canvas for various design aesthetics. A downside includes susceptibility to scratches and dents, especially in busy households. Some bamboo flooring may also involve adhesives with volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Cherry ($3 to $5): Cherry wood flooring embodies a timeless charm, yet its merits come hand in hand with certain considerations. Its deep, rich hues and distinctive grain patterns give interiors a sense of luxury and warmth. The material’s innate elegance harmonizes with both traditional and contemporary aesthetics. However, the susceptibility to darkening from direct sunlight is a notable downside. You’ll need protective measures to maintain its original appearance.
  • Cork ($5 to $10): Cork’s resilience offers comfort underfoot and noise reduction, rendering it an optimal choice for living spaces. It’s an eco-friendly option with renewable cork bark and natural moisture resistance, but its softness leads to damage in high-traffic areas.
  • Maple ($6 to $9): Maple flooring’s durability and hardness make it a robust choice for spaces that demand resilience, while its light, neutral tones provide a versatile backdrop for various design styles. Its ability to resist wear and tear, even in high-traffic areas, speaks to its practicality. Maple’s sturdiness sometimes translates into a harder surface to walk over, and its light color can limit your options.
  • Oak ($3 to $8): The inherent strength and durability of oak flooring are major advantages that ensure its longevity in various settings. It also features captivating grain patterns and diverse color options. Additionally, oak’s resistance to wear and tear makes it well-suited for high-traffic areas. However, oak is still susceptible to moisture damage and requires routine care to prevent warping.
  • Walnut ($3 to $8): Walnut flooring offers a rich color and interesting grain patterns to provide spaces with a sense of luxury. Its hardness ensures durability and ages gracefully to add character over time. Its softer nature renders it susceptible to scratches and dents, requiring maintenance, particularly in high-traffic areas.

Cost by Area Size

The square footage of your hardwood floors significantly impacts the total cost of your refinishing project. Many contractors will decrease the cost per square foot the larger the project scope because the job requires less labor to set up and take down equipment.

Square Footage Estimated Cost

















Factors Affecting Cost

 Additional cost factors that a contractor may or may not include in the base price are as follows:

  • Carpeting: You may incur an extra charge of $1 per square foot if you need to remove and dispose of old carpet.
  • Cleaning: Contractors typically provide cleaning and buffing between sanding and refinishing, but if you want the floor cleaned before or after, it will cost extra. Pricing varies based on how much cleaning the contractors will need to complete.
  • Condition: Refinishing will take care of dings and light scratches. Before refinishing begins, someone must handle deeper scratches, gouges, and loose floorboards. This process might cost an extra $2 to $20 per square foot.
  • Furniture: Flooring contractors may or may not move furniture. Additional fees for moving furniture vary based on how much the contractors will have to relocate during the project.
  • Labor: The cost of labor varies according to the project’s scope and the contractor’s capabilities, but up to 80% of the final project cost can go to labor costs.
  • Subfloor: If your floor has experienced water damage, contractors will likely need to repair the subfloor beneath for $5 to $9 per square foot.
  • Type of refinishing: The sanding in traditional refinishing makes a mess, but some contractors offer dustless refinishing using commercial vacuums. This option adds $2 to $4 per square foot to your total cost.



Signs That You Need to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to undergo a refinishing job:

  • Discoloration: If the color of the hardwood floor has faded or changed, it may be time to refinish the floor.
  • Exposed nails: If you notice nails peeking through the surface of the hardwood floor, you should seek refinishing services immediately.
  • Scratches and marks: Deep scratches, gouges, and marks on the hardwood floor signify it’s time to refinish it.
  • Texture changes: If the texture of the hardwood floor has changed, such as becoming rough or uneven, it may be time to refinish the floor.
  • Water damage: Water damage causes hardwood floors to warp and buckle. If you notice uneven spots or warped spots, call a flooring professional.
  • Worn finish: Another obvious sign your floor needs refinishing is when the floor finish loses its character and becomes worn or damaged. This happens from normal wear and tear, spills, or accidents.



Professional vs. DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Opting for professional hardwood floor refinishing ensures expertise and precision. Trained technicians can address intricate details and maintain the proper finish with minimal errors. Professional flooring technicians often utilize industrial-grade equipment, which helps you receive a more refined outcome that can extend the life span of your floors.

On the other hand, DIY refinishing gives you more creative control and potential cost savings. It demands a steep learning curve with specialized tools like a belt sander and varnish. The risk of mistakes could impact the final aesthetic and durability. We advise you to weigh professionals’ expertise and convenience against the hands-on involvement and financial benefits of a DIY project, especially given how costly and time-consuming mistakes with flooring become.



Our Recommendation

We recommend you work with a licensed flooring contractor to get an accurate idea of how much your wood floor refinishing project will cost and receive potential warranties or guarantees on the job. Know that flooring is one area where the up-front cost translates into long-term quality and durability, so carefully consider all your options with a professional home improvement company before committing.

Our tool below helps you find reputable flooring companies that service your address.



Refinishing Hardwood Floors Cost FAQ

Is it more cost-effective to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

Refinishing hardwood is more cost-effective than replacing it. Even if it requires removing a few severely damaged planks, refinishing will generally always cost less than tearing out the entire floor.

When should you not refinish hardwood floors?

We recommend that if over 30% of your hardwood floor has received damage, you should replace the hardwood flooring rather than try to refinish it.

Can you stay in your house while refinishing hardwood floors?

Yes, you can stay in your house while refinishing hardwood floors. However, you may need to take some safety precautions because the refinishing process involves using chemicals, such as water or oil- or water-based polyurethane, and machinery that produces dust. Some people are more sensitive to these things than others.


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