How much does it cost to sand and stain a hardwood floor?

Content of the material

  1. What Exactly Does it Mean to Refinish Hardwood Floors?
  2. Traditional vs. Dustless Hardwood Refinishing 
  3. Refinishing vs. Resurfacing Hardwood Floors
  4. Video
  5. Cost to Replace Hardwood Floors
  6. How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors yourself?
  7. How long does it take to sand a floor with a floor sander?
  8. Questions to Ask About Refinishing Hardwood Floors
  9. Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors: Do I Need to Refinish My Hardwood Floors?
  10. Dents or Scratches Are Visible
  11. Boards Are Turning Gray or Black
  12. The Colors Are Fading
  13. Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring
  14. Average cost to refinish hardwood floors
  15. Cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors
  16. Cost to stain or restain hardwood floors
  17. Cost to whitewash hardwood floors
  18. Cost to refinish hardwood stairs
  19. Cost to rip up carpet and refinish hardwood floors
  20. Hardwood floor restoration cost by location
  21. Factors Affecting Cost
  22. Exactly How Much Does it Cost to Refinish Hardwood Flooring?
  23. The average cost to refinish 500 square feet of hardwood flooring
  24. The average cost to refinish 1000 square feet of hardwood flooring
  25. The average cost to refinish 2000 square feet of hardwood flooring
  26. The Cost to Refinish Hardwood Stairs
  27. What is hardwood floor refinishing?
  28. How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?
  29. How often should you refinish hardwood floors?
  30. How many times can you refinish a hardwood floor?
  31. Should hardwood floors feel rough after refinishing?
  32. Can you refinish hardwood floors without sanding?
  33. Can you refinish prefinished floors?
  34. Will hardwood floor refinishing get rid of pet urine stains?
  35. Do you have to remove baseboards to refinish hardwood floors?
  36. Does Lowe’s or Home Depot refinish hardwood floors?
  37. Do you tip floor refinishers?
  38. How to care for newly refinished hardwood floors?
  39. FAQs

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 Replace Hardwood Floors

Replacing a hardwood floor costs homeowners $14 to $32 per sq.ft. on average. This is two or three times more expensive than refinishing it. Thus, most homeowners opt to refinish the flooring a few times before replacing it. However, sometimes the only option is to replace the floor. If the floor suffers extreme water or structural damage, you will have to replace it to ensure you can use it safely. Another case where it would be better to replace the hardwood flooring in your home rather than refinish it is when the floor has become too thin due to previous refinishing, and it’s impossible to do it again.

Video

How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors yourself?

Refinishing your floors yourself can cost between $500 and $1,000 depending on square footage. You can expect to pay a professional $3 to $4 per square foot to complete the same project.Mar 29, 2018

How long does it take to sand a floor with a floor sander?

4. So how long does it take to sand a floor? If you’re using both the electric sander and the edger in 140 square-foot floor space, it will take you roughly 5 hours to do three sanding passes.Jul 31, 2018

Questions to Ask About Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Asking a professional the right questions about floor refinishing can help minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. Here are some questions to ask about the cost to refinish hardwood floors.

  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Does the estimate include the cost of moving furniture and cleaning?
  • How long will the refinishing take?
  • Do you offer a warranty?
  • Are you insured and bonded?
  • What are the payment plan options?
  • How will you protect my home from all the dust?
  • How soon can I walk on the floor after it’s refinished?
  • What kind of stain and coating is best for my flooring?
  • How do you handle damage that happens during the job?

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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Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring comes in two varieties: solid hardwood, which consists of the same wood from top to bottom, and engineered hardwood, a laminated product in which a relatively thin layer of solid hardwood is bonded over a layer of less expensive sheet material, usually plywood or some form of particleboard.

Engineered hardwood can still be sanded, but you’ll need to take care not to grind down through the surface layer into the core. Generally, you’ll be able to refinish engineered hardwood only once or twice before the core layers are exposed. By contrast, you can refinish most solid hardwood floors several times over the course of their life. However, eventually, even solid hardwood is going to wear down to the point where it’s too thin to be sanded again safely.

Average cost to refinish hardwood floors

Hardwood floor refinishing costs depend on the square footage, layout, location, staining, finish type, number of coats of finish, and local labor costs. Moving furniture, removing wax build-up, removing carpet, or refinishing stairs increases the cost.

Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option - sand,
Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option – sand, stain, and finish vs. buff and recoat – chart

Hardwood floor refinishing costs by option
Option Cost per square foot
Sand and refinish $1.50 – $5.00
Sand, stain, and refinish $2.00 – $7.00
Screen, buff, and recoat $1.00 – $2.50

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Common factors that increase the overall cost to redo wood floors include:

Additional costs to redo hardwood floors
Factor Additional cost
Dustless refinishing $2 – $4 per square foot
Additional coats of finish $0.50 – $1.75 per square foot
Moving furniture $20 – $50 per room
Removing wax build-up $100 – $200 per room
Carpet removal & disposal $0.25 – $1.00 per square foot
Refinishing stairs $25 – $85 per step
Wire-brush finish $2 – $5 per square foot

Cost to sand and refinish hardwood floors

Sanding and refinishing hardwood floors costs $1.50 to $5.00 per square foot for labor and materials. Sanding removes the old finish and the surface layer of the wood to eliminate scratches, dings, and discoloration. After sanding, contractors apply multiple coats of clear finish seal and protect the floor.

Hardwood floor finish types
Finish type Pros and cons
Water-based polyurethane
  • Low odor and low VOCs
  • Durable, smooth, and shiny finish
  • Comes in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss
  • No yellowing
  • Each coat dries in 2 to 4 hours
Oil-based polyurethane
  • Stronger odor and higher VOCs
  • Durable and resists moisture
  • Comes in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss
  • May yellow over time
  • Each coat dries in 8 to 10 hours
Wax finish
  • Little odor and low VOCs
  • Not as durable but easy to touch up
  • Low sheen varnish
  • Yellows or darkens over time
  • Requires multiple coats but dries within a few hours
Acid-cured / Swedish finish
  • Strong odor and very high VOCs
  • Extremely durable
  • Best varnish for exotic wood or parquet floors
  • Difficult to touch up
  • Requires relocating for several days to air out home

Engineered hardwood flooring living room after ref
Engineered hardwood flooring living room after refinishing process

Cost to stain or restain hardwood floors

Restaining hardwood floors costs $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot alone. Sanding, staining, and refinishing wood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot total. Staining is only necessary to change the wood color. Staining requires sanding first, applying two coats of stain, then adding a clear finish.

Check with the contractor to confirm the wood will absorb the stain evenly. Not all hardwood species are suitable for staining.

Wood floor refinishing in bedroom - before and aft
Wood floor refinishing in bedroom – before and after

Cost to whitewash hardwood floors

Whitewashing hardwood floors costs $2 to $7 per square foot and requires sanding to remove the old finish and then applying a light wash and clear polyurethane topcoat instead of a darker stain. Whitewashing is also known as pickling.

Never use paint to whitewash a floor. Paint will seep through the cracks between the planks and prevents the polyurethane sealer from adhering to the wood.

Cost to refinish hardwood stairs

Refinishing hardwood stairs costs $25 to $85 per step, depending on the stairway style and if the treads and risers are refinished. Stairways with spindles take longer to sand and are priced at the higher end of the range.

Cost to rip up carpet and refinish hardwood floors

Carpet removal and disposal costs $0.25 to $1.00 per square foot alone, plus $2 to $7 per square foot for hardwood floor refinishing. Removing carpet from stairs adds $7 to $10 per step.

Hardwood floor restoration cost by location

Prices to refinish hardwood floors are higher than the national average in major cities or areas with a high cost of living.

Hardwood floor restoration cost by location
City, State Cost per square foot
Atlanta, GA $2.25 – $6.75
Austin, TX $2.25 – $6.75
Boston, MA $2.75 – $8.25
Chicago, IL $2.30 – $6.90
Denver, CO $2.20 – $6.50
Detroit, MI $2.15 – $6.40
Houston, TX $2.50 – $7.60
Los Angeles, CA $2.20 – $6.50
Miami, FL $2.00 – $6.10
Minneapolis, MN $2.25 – $6.80
Nashville, TN $2.00 – $6.10
New York, NY $2.60 – $7.90
Newark, NJ $2.25 – $6.70
Philadelphia, PA $2.25 – $6.70
Phoenix, AZ $2.10 – $6.20
Pittsburgh, PA $2.15 – $6.40
Portland, OR $2.20 – $6.60
San Diego, CA $2.20 – $6.50
San Francisco, CA $2.55 – $7.60
Seattle, WA $2.25 – $6.70
Washington, D.C. $2.25 – $6.75

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Factors Affecting Cost

In general, for a basic refinishing job, it will take a contractor about four to five hours per 100 square feet of space. A number of factors can affect the overall cost of refinishing:

Size of the floor: Generally, smaller rooms are going to be more expensive to refinish per square foot. This is because the equipment used to sand down a hardwood floor is usually quite large, and it is not easy to get it into or maneuver it through tight areas. Some small bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms may be too small to refinish at all without the help of a specialist with the necessary equipment. On the other hand, you can often get a discount on a project to refinish a larger space or multiple rooms on the same visit. Larger projects represent more money for less effort to contractors, and so they are usually willing to offer discounts to secure these jobs.

Local labor costs: In general, contracting companies located in large metropolitan areas are going to charge more for a hardwood refinishing project, mostly because the demand for their services is higher. There can also be a purely regional factor at work; for example, labor in the Northeast is often more expensive than it is in the South.

Company skill: Sometimes, you will be able to find companies offering hardwood refinishing services at extremely low prices. Unfortunately, you usually get exactly what you pay for, and bargain-basement offers may lead to shoddy work or jobs that take longer than they should. Repairs to these mistakes can end up costing more than the original project.

Moving furniture: The room you refinish will need to be cleared of any furniture or furnishings before starting the project. This is generally not included in the estimate for a project, and if the contractors have to take care of this themselves, they may charge a premium for the service. This can not only prolong the project but can also inflate the cost. You may be able to save money by doing the furniture-moving yourself.

Removing carpet or other flooring: If the hardwood you want to have refinished is beneath old carpet, vinyl flooring, or another material, the refinishing contractor will charge extra to remove it for you. Make sure you get an estimate on those costs. You will likely find that doing this work yourself is a good way to save money.

Repairs: If a floor is damaged beyond a certain point, refinishing it won't be effective. In this case, the floor will need to be repaired before it can be refinished. Most refinishers will gladly do this work but for an additional fee that may be higher than that charged by a handyman or carpenter. The better the structural condition of the floor, the more cost-effective the refinishing job will be.

Cleanup: Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a messy process, and unless the cleanup is specified in the contractor's bid, you may need to factor in the cost of a cleaning service when determining the total expense of the project.

Exactly How Much Does it Cost to Refinish Hardwood Flooring?

Let’s look at some sample-size rooms so you can predict how much the cost to refinish hardwood flooring is going to be for your space.

As we said above, the cost to refinish hardwood flooring generally ranges between $3 and $8 per square foot, and we’ll price out both traditional and dustless methods below. 

The average cost to refinish 500 square feet of hardwood flooring

  • For traditional methods, 500 square feet will cost between $1,500 and $3,000 to refinish
  • For dustless methods, the price will be between $2,500 and $4,000 

The average cost to refinish 1000 square feet of hardwood flooring

  • For traditional methods, 1000 square feet will cost between $3,000 and $6,000 to refinish
  • For dustless methods, it will cost between $5,000 and $8,000 to refinish

The average cost to refinish 2000 square feet of hardwood flooring

If you have a very large space like this, many contractors will work out a deal rather than doing it by square foot—but we’ll show you some national averages so you have a place to start.

  • For traditional methods, 2000 square feet will cost between $6,000 and $12,000 to refinish
  • For dustless methods, it will cost between $10,000 and $16,000 to refinish

The Cost to Refinish Hardwood Stairs

The cost to refinish hardwood stairs is a little different because they require more labor and attention to detail. Most contractors will charge per stair tread, and prices generally range from $40 to $75 per stair

What is hardwood floor refinishing?

Hardwood floor refinishing involves sanding the surface layer to remove the old finish and any scratches, dings, or minor discoloration. After sanding, contractors may add a stain to change the wood color, then apply a clear finish to seal and protect the floor.

How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?

Hardwood floor refinishing takes 2 to 6 days, depending on the home’s size, layout, finish type, and stain selected. Most contractors sand and refinish 400 to 1,000 square feet per day, not including drying and curing time for the finish.

After the refinishing process:

  • Wait 24 hours before walking on the floor in socks. Don’t walk on the floor with bare feet or shoes for at least 7 days.
  • Wait 4 to 5 days before moving furniture into the room.
  • Wait 3 to 4 weeks before placing area rugs on the floor.

How often should you refinish hardwood floors?

Hardwood floors should be refinished every 7 to 10 years, depending on thickness, species, and age. Finishing is recommended when hardwood floors have scratches, dings, scuffs, stains, discoloration, fading, or other damage.

How many times can you refinish a hardwood floor?

Solid hardwood floors may be refinished 4 to 10 times, depending on thickness and age. Homes built before the 1920s often have thinner wood flooring. Screening and recoating is a better option for floors that are too thin to sand.

Should hardwood floors feel rough after refinishing?

Hardwood floors should not feel rough after refinishing if the contractor sanded the floor with three passes using the proper sandpaper grits, buffed the floor smooth, and added at least two coats of finish.

Can you refinish hardwood floors without sanding?

You cannot properly refinish hardwood floors without sanding. Sanding removes the old finish, scratches, dings, and discoloration. For floors with a dull sheen and only minor scuffing, consider screening and recoating instead.

Can you refinish prefinished floors?

Prefinished floors are solid hardwood and can be sanded and refinished like other hardwood floorings.

Will hardwood floor refinishing get rid of pet urine stains?

Refinishing will not get rid of pet urine stains or odors because the ammonia penetrates the wood too deeply, and sanding removes less than 2mm of wood from the surface. Urine-stained planks must be removed and replaced, or homeowners may select a dark wood stain to cover the pet stains.

Do you have to remove baseboards to refinish hardwood floors?

Removing the baseboards to refinish hardwood floors is optional but protects the trim from being nicked by the sanding equipment. When leaving baseboards or shoe moldings in place, cover them with a layer of tape-backed foam to avoid scuffing the trim.

Does Lowe’s or Home Depot refinish hardwood floors?

Home Depot offers N-Hance hardwood floor resurfacing, which uses a screening and recoating technique instead of sanding, followed by a UV-light treatment to cure the finish quickly. N-Hance works best for floors with minimal scratches or dings.

Lowe’s does not offer hardwood floor refinishing services but rents floor sanders for DIY refinishing.

Do you tip floor refinishers?

Tipping floor refinishers is optional but they always appreciate the gesture. Standard tipping rates for floor refinishers are $10 to $30 per person if their work quality exceeds your expectations. Workers also appreciate being offered access to a bathroom in the home throughout the day.

How to care for newly refinished hardwood floors?

Follow these steps to protect hardwood floors after refinishing:

  • Add felt tabs or pads to the bottom of furniture legs to prevent scratches and scuffing. Change the tabs on chairs and stools every 2 to 3 months.
  • Avoid sliding heavy appliances across the floors.
  • Vacuum or use a dry dust mop regularly to prevent surface grit from scratching the finish.
  • Wipe spills immediately after they occur.
  • Encourage family members not to wear shoes in the home.
  • Avoid cleaning products containing vinegar or ammonia, which dull the finish.

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FAQs

  • How much does it cost to refinish 1,000 sq.ft. of hardwood floors?

Refinishing 1,000 sq.ft. of hardwood floors can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000 depending on the extent of work needed and the method you will use.

  • Is it cheaper to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

Refinishing a hardwood floor is $3 to $8 per sq.ft. This cost is two to three times cheaper than replacing it.

  • How much does it cost to sand and refinish a hardwood floor?

Sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor cost between $3 and $8 per sq.ft.

  • What is the average price per square foot to refinish hardwood floors?

The average cost to refinish hardwood floors is around $5 per sq.ft.

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