How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

What Exactly Does it Mean to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Imagine having the power to erase years of scratches and scuffs from your floors, making them look brand new. That’s refinishing, friend! 

Essentially, the process involves sanding off a super-thin layer from the top of your floor and then slapping a new layer of finish on it. That’s about it!

Traditional vs. Dustless Hardwood Refinishing 

There are two methods for refinishing hardwood flo

There are two methods for refinishing hardwood floors. They have the exact same effect on your flooring, but one method involves a high-powered vacuum that’s connected to the sanding tool—making it the process “dustless”.

In truth, no refinish is completely dust-free. However, the dustless sanders do make a significant difference, especially for people who suffer from asthma or other respiratory issues.

Is the cost to refinish hardwood flooring higher for dustless options? Generally, yes—because it involves a more specialized sanding machine. We’ll talk about that in more detail further down, though.

Refinishing vs. Resurfacing Hardwood Floors

One more important note: refinishing and resurfacing are not the same thing. Refinishing involves sanding off a finish, all the way down to bare wood, and then adding a new finish. 

Resurfacing, on the other hand, involves screening (a process of using a mild abrasive on the surface of a finish) and then adding a new bit of finish on top of that.

Here’s what you need to remember: if you have an older floor, or one that you finished on-site, you’ll need to refinish it to get out any scratches. But if you have a prefinished hardwood floor (one with a factory finish), you’ll most likely only need to resurface it, since those factory finishes are so much more durable.

And resurfacing is, of course, less expensive.

Cost to refinish hardwood floors in Westchester

So, let’s start with the basics. 

How much does it cost to sand and refinish oak floors in Westchester?

Most refinishing companies in Westchester County will charge between $2 and $3.50 per square foot for basic sanding and refinishing of oak.  If it’s natural, it will be towards the lower side, and with a stain it will cost a bit more (often an extra .50 or so). 

It will generally cost an extra $.50-.80 for an extra coat of poly. This generally is not needed when you are doing natural as you generally have 3 coats of poly on there. But, for a stain, some places will do 2 coats, others will do 3 and others will give you choices. In general, for darker colors and for heavy traffic areas, especially the kitchen, entryway and often first floor, a 3rd coat of poly will help make things last longer.  I will often recommend that customers with busy households (e.g. kids, pets, etc,) that a 3rd coat is great for the 1st floor and is optional for the 2nd floor.

Water based polyurethane often costs a bit more (usually and extra .50 or so), but this can also vary based on which type of water based poly.   The best type of water based poly is Bona Traffic HD, and this may cost you an additional .75 or so.   That means it could cost you an additional +1.25 per square foot when you add in both of these. There are a few companies around Westchester (I won’t mention their names) that tend to use a cheap water based poly which is low grade.  So, if they aren’t charging you extra for water based poly, it’s most likely because they are using a cheap brand that won’t last very long.  Bona is a wonderful water based and if your company is using that, you are probably in good shape.   Here’s more info on water borne vs oil based polyurethane.

Cost of refinishing other species of wood – pine, maple – in Westchester County

Pine and maple are more challenging woods to refinish. First, they are just more challenging to sand (and you definitely want a high quality company that is familiar with these types of woods as they require different grits and different pressures to be applied.) And, you need to add a conditioner to them to open up the pores, if you are adding a stain. Pine is challenging because it’s soft; maple is challenging as it’s a bit harder and more challenging for the stain to penetrate – in fact, due to the wood itself, it will be blotchy. Most companies will charge a bit more for these types of woods.  In addition, some of the older pines have face nails which must be countersunk, prior to sanding.  Extra costs on this can vary, but may be in the range of .20 to $1.00/sf.  

Cost for refinishing parquet and herringbone floors in Westchester County


Parquet and herringbone floors are more challenging to sand and refinish as the wood goes in 2 directions (or sometimes more), so these floors need to be handled a bit more carefully.  Most sanding companies in Westchester will charge an extra .40-.80 for this work.

Cost for dustless sanding and refinishing in Westchester County

Some companies offer DUSTLESS sanding and refinishing.  Others don’t.  We offer both a standard and dustless option. It’s important to note that dustless is not 100% dustfree…nothing is.  But, it does take care of most of the dust.  You can read more about that dustless sanding here.

Cost for white wash and/or gray floors

It definitely costs extra to do a whitewash floor, or a gray floor which uses white wash.  On the one hand, it might cost an extra .25-.80 cents to add white wash.  However, it’s not quite that simple.  When you do a white wash or gray floor, you need to use water based poly, so that will definitely add to the cost.  And, because these floors are expensive and challenging to maintain, you often want to/need to add an extra coat of poly, as well as trade up to bone traffic.  So, the costs can definitely add up.

Other items that will cost extra when sanding

  • Stair treads – the cost can vary based on type of wood, whether it’s natural (less expensive) or stained (more expensive), type of poly and number of coats, but generally, this will cost  $25-$45 per stair tread.
  • Stair risers – generally, this will cost and extra $25-$40.
  • Banisters – most flooring places will not refinish banisters as it is a different process.  These will need to be hand sanded and this work is generally done by painters.  Often, the cost can be a bit steep because the process is rather involved.  It is labor intensive and takes several trip for the coats to dry.
  • Ripping up carpet – This can often be rather costly as there is a lot of labor involved.  Ripping up carpet is relatively simple, but ripping up the staples and the tack strips can be challenging.  Most places in Westchester will charge .80-$1.30 for this work, and if it needs to be hauled away, that will certainly add to the cost as there are dumping fees.  Generally, condos, co-ops, townhouses, etc. require that the carpet be hauled away.  Ripping up carpet on steps or runners will also cost extra.
  • Ripping up vinyl, laminate, parquet, tile, etc.  This can add to the cost as well and prices can vary based on type, area and also, there could be additional repair work, especially if there were nails into the wood underneath, and/or black tar that is left behind.  Usually, this black tar can be sanded off, but it takes extra time and extra sand paper.
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Missing saddles or transitions:   These can easily be added if they are missing from doorways or closets or transitions to areas not being done (e.g. if there is tile in the kitchen or carpet in the bedroom and you want a smooth transition.  These might cost $30-50 per doorway, but can vary based on what’s needed and length of transition.
  • Repair work – this can vary based on size/scope of repair needed.  Sometimes this is needed because pieces are just damaged/have big hold; other times, this is due to pet damage or water stains (i.e. if the floor is dark/black); other times, it can be due to a wall or cabinet that was moved.  The larger the scope, the more for labor and materials.  When the wood needs to be woven in, this can be more intensive.  And, when it’s pine, it will often cost more both to get the wood and to mill it down to the proper width (often pine today is cut in different widths than it was 80 to 100 yrs ago).  Again, this is why it’s best to get a flooring specialist that does this sort of repair often.
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Quarter round or shoe molding  – Sometimes, after you remove the carpet, there is a gap between the base molding and the floor.  You often can’t tell whether or not this is needed until after the carpet is ripped up.  If it does happen, this is a simple solve, but it can add to your cost due to material and labor, and these will need to be painted afterwards (although most likely your base molding needs to be repainted regardless of this.
  • Furniture move – This can vary greatly.  Some companies won’t move furniture at all; others will and the price will vary.  Generally, you will need to move all of the loose/breakable items prior to their arrival.  And, often, there is a separate trip charge to move the furniture back after the floors have properly dried (i.e. a few days later).

As you can see, there are many factors that can impact the cost. It’s generally helpful to consult with a professional flooring company to get real and accurate costs. Often, you can ask them to break it out in different ways (e.g. what if we only did these rooms? Or what is the cost for natural vs. stain or what is cost of oil based vs. water based poly, etc.)

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Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors by Finish Type

Most finish types are sold in one-gallon buckets for $20 to $550 per gallon. Each product covers a different surface size, meaning the finish can be used several times before you have to purchase another package. The type of finish you select determines the look your hardwood floors will have. They may be satin, matte, glossy, or another shade that gives the floor a smooth, shiny, or textured look.

Finish TypeCost per Gallon (Materials Only)Oil-Bas

Finish TypeCost per Gallon (Materials Only)
Oil-Based Polyurethane$20 – $50
Water-Based Polyurethane$30 – $55
Wax$35 – $55
Penetrating Oil Finish$40 – $100
Swedish Finish$50 – $80
Hard Wax Oil$70 – $550

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethane costs around $20 to $50 per gallon. It’s the most commonly used finish type used because of its durability and the traditional look it gives to the hardwood floors. It’s one of the most durable finishes that can take heavy traffic and is extremely easy to work with as any mistake can be fixed along the way. When you apply oil-based polyurethane, it will dry within 24 hours and turn into an amber color over time.

Water-Based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane costs $30 to $55 per gallon. It’s the second most common finish type after oil-based polyurethane because of its affordability and fast application. It is easy to apply and gives the flooring a high-gloss finish, making it a popular choice. Most water-based finishes dry within two to four days, so the project will take less time to complete than with some other finishes.

Cost to Wax Hardwood Floors

Liquid wax is also known as paste wax and can be found for $35 to $55 per gallon. It’s buffed into the hardwood material and then spread throughout the floor. Once it hardens, it’s buffed once again. Using wax finishes gives the floors a more natural look, so they are very popular with historical renovations. A big advantage of wax finishes is the ability to buff in more wax on high traffic areas to maintain the updated look across the whole floor.

Penetrating Oil Finish for Wood

Penetrating oil finish for wood costs $40 to $100 per gallon. It’s called penetrating because it enters the wood, oxidizes, and hardens from within. This protects the flooring on the inside rather than adding a protective layer on the surface, which is the case with other finishes. This reinforces the wood as well, increasing its durability and sturdiness. Penetrating oils are expensive because they have little or no volatile components in them that may harm the flooring or people’s health during its use.

Swedish Finish Hardwood Floor Care

Also known as acid-cured, Swedish finishes cost $50 to $80 per gallon. They typically come as a one-component or two-component finish with an acid catalyst and alcohol solvent. Once applied, the first coat dries within two to four hours so that the next coat can be applied after 24 to 48 hours. As the molecules of the finish bond with the wood cells, Swedish finishes are very durable. They are also very flammable because of the alcohol and have a very strong smell at the beginning.

Hard Wax Oil for Wood Floors

Hard wax oil is typically used on more exotic floors as the components are lighter and gentler on the wood, so the cost is a lot higher than other finishes. They are one of the most expensive ones on the market, at the cost of $70 to $550 per gallon. A quarter of a gallon covers around 800 sq.ft. of surface, so it lasts you longer than some other, cheaper finishes. Hard wax oils are rubbed into the floor. Once applied, the oil enters the floor and hardens in it. This process leaves the wax on top and gives the floor a shiny look. It comes in various finishes, from flat to matte and shiny, allowing homeowners to choose a shade that best fits their taste.

Hardwood floor refinishing cost calculator

Enter the wood floor’s length and width in the calculator below to estimate the cost of refinishing.

The following table shows the average cost of a typical hardwood flooring refinishing project.

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors - chart
Average cost to refinish hardwood floors – chart

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors
National average cost $1,600
Minimum cost $300
Maximum cost $8,000
Average range $1,200 to $2,400

*Based on 369 project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Hardwood Floor Restoration Cost

The cost of restoration depends on the type and extent of floor damage. For instance, if the damage is minimal on a ten sq.ft. surface, the floor may be restored with sanding for $3 to $5.50 per sq.ft., or $30 to $55 in total. However, when the floor has suffered deeper damage or the wood underneath the finish has suffered damage, the cost would be higher. If, for instance, the floor has suffered severe water damage, the whole area and the subfloor 2 would likely need to be replaced. Replacing a floor board comes at the cost of $14 to $32, while repairing it will cost $8 to $32 per sq.ft. Some examples of damage that require hardwood restoration are deeper scratches and gouges, worn off areas on the floor, gray or black areas, or uneven floor boards. Refinishing is mostly used for lighter damage or wear. Restoration is used for deeper damage beyond the current floor finish.

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Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors: Do I Need to Refinish My Hardwood Floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors will eliminate scratches and gouges and reveal the natural warmth and beauty of the wood flooring. If there is water or UV damage to the flooring, a full refinish will restore the luster and shine. Here are some reasons to consider refinishing your hardwood floors.

Dents or Scratches Are Visible

If the flooring is scratched up in multiple areas and has seen better days, it’s time for a refinish. Sanding the floor to a smooth finish is the best way to get your hardwood floor looking like new. Deeper scratches may require some extra repair, and a professional will be able to ensure that the repairs blend seamlessly into the rest of the floor.

Refinishing your floors?Some jobs are better left to the pros. Get free, no-commitment estimates from licensed flooring contractors near you. Find local pros ++

Boards Are Turning Gray or Black

Even regular cleaning can cause water damage if the protective layer has worn off the hardwood flooring. Water-damaged hardwood flooring will turn gray or black if enough water has soaked into it. The darker the wood is, the more damage it has. Refinishing the floor before the damage gets too extensive will ensure the structural integrity of the flooring. Keep in mind that if the damage is widespread, some boards may need to be replaced.

The Colors Are Fading

Sunlight streaming across a radiant hardwood floor may look appealing, but damaging UV rays can take a toll. Hardwood flooring can fade and become discolored by sunlight. If you notice that your flooring is looking dull and faded, a refinish will help restore the wood’s natural color. Refinishing also allows you to alter the color if you’re not happy with the wood’s natural hue. For example, if you don’t like the reddish hue of cherry flooring, a different color of stain can make the flooring appear more neutral.

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Refinishing hardwood floors vs. replacing with new floors cost

Hardwood floor refinishing costs $2 to $6 per square foot on average, which is cheaper than the cost to install new hardwood floors at $6 to $15 per square foot.

Refinishing hardwood floors vs replacing new floor
Refinishing hardwood floors vs replacing new floors cost – chart

Consider the floor’s current condition when deciding whether to refinish or replace it:

  • Refinish floors with scratches, dings, discoloration, or slightly uneven areas.
  • Replace floors with water damage, noticeably warped planks, subflooring issues, or wood that is too thin to sand. Flooring installation costs $6 to $18 per square foot, depending on the material.
  • Refinishing may not completely eliminate pet urine stains or odors. Consider replacing the damaged planks or the entire floor; or refinishing and covering the floor with a dark wood stain.
  • Repairing hardwood floors costs $2 to $20 per square foot or $500 to $1,500 on average, depending on the type and extent of the damage.

Is it cheaper to refinish hardwood floors or install carpet?

Refinishing hardwood floors cost $2 to $6 per square foot on average, while carpet installation costs $2 to $8 per square foot. Refinishing the floors is typically cheaper than installing new carpet, depending on the wood flooring condition.

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Can Vinyl Plank Flooring Go in a Bathroom?

It’s a serious question: can vinyl plank flooring go in a bathroom? We hear you, we have your back, and we’re not wasting any time! Below we’re explaining all the pros and cons of using LVP in a bathroom, going over a few of the best vinyl plank flooring brands, and to wrap things up, answering any and all lingering questions! 

FAQs

Deciding on the right way to refinish hardwood floors while keeping the cost down can be a daunting process. Here are some frequently asked questions about the cost to refinish hardwood floors to help guide you in your decisions.

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Q. How long does refinishing hardwood floors take?

It takes approximately 5 hours per 100 square feet of flooring. The flooring condition and the intricacy of the layout also affect how much time it will take.

Q. How much does it cost to refinish 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring?

The cost to refinish 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring averages between $3,000 to $8,000.

Q. Should I refinish or replace my hardwood floor?

On average, it costs 50 percent less to refinish than replace a hardwood floor.

Q. How often should I refinish my hardwood floor?

Hardwood floors start showing their age around 10 years after installation. It’s recommended to refinish floors every 7 to 10 years, depending on the extent of the damage. Hardwood flooring can be refinished between 4 and 10 times, depending on the thickness of the wood.

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