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How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors in 2024?

The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is $3 to $8 per square foot, or about $2,400 to $6,000 to refinish the wood floors in your whole house. But how do you tell when your hardwood floors need to be refinished? We’re going over everything you need to know about wood floor restoration and refinishing costs.

When Do Your Hardwood Floors Need to Be Refinished?

Determining when your hardwood floors need to be refinished starts with recognizing the signs of wear and tear. Surface issues, aesthetic deterioration, and more can be signs that your floor needs a new finish.

Identifying Surface Issues

Several issues can cause hardwood flooring damage. Here are some of the most common issues to look for when determining if it’s time to refinish your floor:

  • Discoloration caused by spills, wear, or UV rays
  • Exposed nails
  • Scratches and dents
  • Change in texture
  • Warping and buckling caused by water damage
  • Normal wear and tear in heavy traffic areas

It can be hard to tell if your hardwood floors are beyond refinishing and need to be replaced. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to consult a professional hardwood flooring expert.

Assessing Aesthetic Deterioration

Depending on the damage to your floors, they may only need to be restained or resealed. Wood floors are sealed in various ways, and sometimes all it takes to bring your wood floor back to life is a new coat of varnish or sealant.

Resealing can improve the appearance of your wood floors, but it’s important to note that it won’t remove damage caused by heavy foot traffic or pets’ nails, for example. If the damage to your wood floors is extensive, refinishing them is worth it.

Evaluating Aesthetic and Functional Needs

Refinishing hardwood floors is a significant expense, and it’s usually worth waiting if there isn’t a lot of damage. However, in some cases, keeping up appearances is important, particularly if you’re putting your house up for sale or renovating your home.

Preserving Floor Longevity

Even though your wood floor can be refinished a limited number of times during its lifespan, regular refinishing protects the wood and increases its life expectancy. 

Knowing what type of wood floor you have is important when making the decision to refinish because some types, such as solid wood floors, can be refinished up to 12 times, while others can only be refinished three or four times.

Benefits of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood Floor Refinish

Is it worth it to refinish hardwood floors? Consider these important benefits if you’re having difficulty deciding whether you should.

Enhancing Visual Appeal

People choose hardwood floors because of their striking beauty and elegance. However, over time, you may not notice that they become dull and worn.

Brightening Spaces

Your floors will look new again after being refinished, and it will restore them to their original shine. After a while, UV rays and normal wear and tear will fade the wood and dull the surface. Refinishing your wood floors will bring back the original luster and brighten your space.

Modernizing Floor Looks

Years ago, it was common to seal hardwood floors with varnishes or shellacs, which can yellow over time. If you want to modernize the look of your floor, refinishing is an excellent way to do that. 

Sanding your hardwood floors and refinishing with one of the innovative new wood floor sealers will give your floors a completely different look that lets their natural beauty shine through.

Extending Floor Life

One of the most important benefits of refinishing your hardwood floors is that it will extend the life of your floor, saving you money in the long run on replacement costs.

Preventing Further Damage

Some types of floor damage, such as exposed nails, splits, or cracks, can worsen over time when the problem isn’t addressed. Refinishing your hardwood floors takes care of these problems so you can start with a clean slate.

Sustaining Material Integrity

Protecting your wood floors by refinishing them will keep them from deteriorating. It will also allow you to address and prevent problems caused by water or insect damage.

Factors in Calculating Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs

Hardwood Floor Refinish

How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors? Once you’ve determined it’s time to refinish your hardwood floors, your next task is determining what you need to budget.

Several factors influence refinishing hardwood floor costs, but the most significant expenses are associated with materials and labor.

Material Expenses

The type of hardwood flooring you have is one of the primary determiners affecting the cost of refinishing materials. 

Quality of Refinishing Products

Wood floors can be refinished in various ways. While refinishing always includes sanding to start, the product you choose to refinish your hardwood floors will help determine the final cost.

Types of Sealants and Finishes

Sealants and finishes are included in the cost of redoing hardwood floors. Here are some common types of sealants and finishes and the costs associated with each, not including labor:

Hardwood floor finish Cost per gallon Coverage area (square feet)
Water-based polyurethane $30 to $55 400 to 500 sf
Oil-based polyurethane $20 to $50 500 to 600 sf
Wax $35 to $55 2,000 sf
Penetrating oil finish $40 to $100 500 sf (optional second coat will cover 800 sf)
Swedish finish $50 to $80 500 to 600 sf
Hard wax oil $70 to $550 800 to 1,200 sf

Labor Charges

About 80% of the wood floor restoration costs are associated with labor. There is significant preparation work, and the job also requires extensive cleanup. 

Specialist Rates

Hardwood flooring specialists normally charge by the square foot, which averages about $3 to $8, depending on the type of wood floor you have. 

Most hardwood floor professionals can refinish about 20 square feet per hour, which averages between $60 and $160 per hour.

Duration and Complexity of the Job

Complex flooring jobs will cost more because they take longer to refinish. Patterns and designs like herringbone are harder to refinish, so it’s usually recommended to have them professionally refinished. 

Additional Costs and Considerations

Floor Repairs

Addressing damages and making repairs to ensure surface uniformity before refinishing your hardwood floors will add to the overall cost of your project. 

Here are some related expenses you may incur when refinishing your wood floors:

  • Repairing scratches, gouges, and loose floorboards- $2 to $20 per square foot
  • Subfloor water damage- $6 to $8 per square foot
  • Carpet removal- up to $1 per square foot

Specialized Finishes and Techniques

Adding special touches and finishes to hardwood floors will increase the cost of refinishing. Intricate application methods will take longer, which will increase labor costs.

Once the floors are sanded, you can add custom colors, such as staining or whitewashing, which costs about $2 to $7 per square foot.

Also, if you’re trying to match your newly refinished floor color to another floor, it may cost extra to purchase the right combination of stains to match the color perfectly. 

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs by House Size

The average cost of hardwood floor refinishing is $3 to $8 per square foot. 

Smaller Spaces and Rooms

Generally speaking, the more floor space that needs to be refinished, the more it will cost. However, the cost to refinish wood floors per square foot goes down with large projects, because travel expenses and setup fees are fixed costs.

Limited Area Refinishing

Small bedrooms less than 100 square feet may cost as little as $300. Here are some other small area floor refinishing costs:

Area to be refinished (square feet) Cost
10 x 10 (100 sf)  $300 to $800
12 x 12 (144 sf) $500 to $1,100
20 x 20 (400 sf) $1,200 to $2,000
Small house (1,000 sf) $2,000 to $4,000

Project Scope and Time Frames

Small areas are faster to refinish, and professional floor refinishing teams can easily do a bedroom or two in one day. Still, you must wait until the floor has cured before moving back into it.

Larger Houses and Areas

Refinishing the hardwood floors in larger homes and rooms will cost more due to increased material needs and labor hours. 

Here are some common room and house sizes and the cost to refinish a hardwood floor in these spaces:

Area to be refinished (square feet) Cost
Medium-sized house (2,000 sf) $4,000 to $6,000
Large-sized house (3,000 sf) $6,000 to $8,000

DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs vs. Hiring a Professional

Is it better to DIY your hardwood floor refinishing or hire a professional? This is a good job for experienced DIYers, but if your floors are severely damaged, it’s wise to consult a professional.

Weighing DIY Merits

DIY wood floor refinishing is a time-intensive project, but it offers considerable job satisfaction because the change is so dramatic. DIY refinishing is an excellent way to save money because most of the refinishing cost is labor. 

When you refinish your own floor, you have the opportunity to use finishes that fit your personal taste. Completing this work yourself also gives you a sense of pride and ownership, and you’re more likely to take better care of your floors.

Pros of Professional Services

Hardwood pros provide hassle-free execution when refinishing your floors, and they employ expert techniques to get better results. 

Since refinishing floors takes a lot of time and you may not be able to live in your home while this work is being done, it’s often a good idea to have a professional come in and get it done quickly.

How to Save Money on Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs

Hardwood floors are expensive to install and maintain. Follow these money-saving tips to lower the cost of sanding and refinishing hardwood floors.

DIY Refinishing

If you’re on a tight budget, DIY refinishing your floors is the easiest way to save the most money. Approximately 80% of the cost of refinishing hardwood floors goes to labor, which means you can save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself.

Opting for Cost-efficient Materials

Choosing cost-effective materials is another way to save money on refinishing costs. Choose an economical yet quality product and try to take advantage of bulk purchasing advantages wherever possible.

Undertaking Timely, Preventive Actions

Regular floor maintenance and early damage intervention will save you money on refinishing costs. Addressing issues like splinters and exposed nails before they become big problems will also save you money down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hardwood Floor Refinishing Costs

How often does hardwood flooring generally need refinishing?

Most hardwood floors can go about seven to ten years before they need to be refinished. However, under certain conditions or when people are more concerned with keeping up appearances, refinishing may need to be done after four years.

Can I live in my house during the refinishing process?

It may be possible to live in your house during the refinishing process, but it’s often not recommended, especially for pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, or people with asthma. 

What factors might lead to variations in refinishing costs across different professionals?

Experienced flooring restoration professionals may charge more than inexperienced laborers, and some companies charge more because they have to cover costs like business overhead. You will also have to pay more for contractors who use special equipment, like dustless sanders.

Is it possible to refresh the look of my hardwood floor without full refinishing?

Instead of a full refinishing, you may be able to refresh your hardwood floor by buffing or resealing, depending on the type of finish you have, the age of your floor, and the extent of damage.

Can all damage to hardwood floors be rectified with refinishing?

Most damage to wood floors can be fixed with refinishing. However, serious water or insect damage may indicate replacement. It’s also important to consider the age of the wood floor. While they can last up to 60 years, they don’t last forever.