Ashburn, VA

Average cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors is
$4 – $6 per sq. ft.

The average cost for hardwood floor refinishing is $5 per sq. ft. Hiring a floor refinisher, you will likely spend between $4 – $6 per sq. ft. The price of hardwood floor refinishing can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local floor refinishers or get free estimates from pros near you.

How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors?

Author: Daniel W.
Millions of people ask HomeGuide for cost estimates every year. We track the estimates they get from local companies, then we share those prices with you.

If you maintain a hardwood floor properly, it might never need refinishing. A solid wood floor can last from 20 to 160 years without a refinish, depending on its thickness and quality ... or every 2–5 years with kids. A new floor starts at $8/sq. ft whereas a refinish costs just over half that at $5/sq. ft.

As with all work done on the home, the final cost will depend on the location, local labor costs, delivery costs, and the ready supply of materials. The cost for refinishing the wood flooring will also depend greatly on its current condition. While prices will be given in square feet, there will be a minimum charge for a refinishing job because of the cost to hire the right equipment and materials.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Your Refinishing Options

When refinishing a wood floor, a number of options apply:

  • Just an oil finish
  • Sanding, staining, and refinishing
  • A maintenance coat on unfinished wood

Refinish or Replace?

If the flooring is solid wood, it’s almost always best to refinish rather than replace because it can be sanded right down and the deepest gashes can be filled. Refinishing costs a lot less too, and if the solid wood flooring was installed in the last few years, it makes sense to extend its life and the value of the installation for as long as possible.

However, if the wood was damaged by water or you can see bubbling or cracking, it will need to be replaced.

Older floors

If the floorboards are widening, it will be too difficult trying to pull them together to make a refinishing job worthwhile. If you’re dead set on saving the floor, you’ll have to pull it up completely and reinstall them with matching old flooring.

Under carpet

Carpet removal and disposal will cost about $0.50–$1/sq. ft, while taking up other flooring can cost $1.46/sq. ft. You can try to remove it all yourself, but keep in mind there might be old adhesives used to hold down carpet or linoleum that will need to be scraped off.

Under paint

If the floor seems to be in good enough shape for your restoration project, you’ll need to strip off all the old paint or varnish, which can cost $1.75–$4/sq. ft.

Finish or recoat

Sand or abrade (roughen up) just a little and add a topcoat - $1.25–$1.75/sq. ft

Sand down to bare floor, stain, and recoat - $3.75–$5/sq. ft. The difference in cost depends on the equipment needed to do the sanding work and how many days it must be rented for—usually $40–$60/day, and the additional labor.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Process

The whole project can take three to five days, depending on the local humidity, the desired stain color, and the number of coats to be applied. In order of what needs to be done, your contractor will:

  1. Move furniture. This may or may not be included in your quote.
  2. Mask the perimeter of the floor area to be refinished.
  3. Deep clean the entire floor, especially in the corners, to get rid of dirt and grease.
  4. Abrade or sand down the floor.
  5. Repair and fill any dents with wood filler.
  6. Sand the wood.
  7. Clean the floor.
  8. Stain or color correct the wood. Each layer of stain takes 24 hours to dry, but it takes even longer if the stain is darker. Softer woods like pine and cedar need second or third coats of stain or conditioner, while harder or grainier woods like verawood and wamara can take longer to dry.
  9. Seal.
  10. This takes 3–5 hours of drying time, but catalysts are available that will harden and cure it faster. Each coat takes 24 hours to dry before applying the next one.
It takes 24–48 hours before anyone can walk on the floor in socks, and four days before furniture can be moved back, so it’s much better to have this done while you’re away, especially if you have children in the house.

Hiring a contractor who specializes in refinishing wood floors is one of your best options because they will have perfected their sanding, staining, and refinishing processes down to a fine art.

Hardwood Floor Refinish

Hardwood Floor Stains and sealers

Costs up to $4.90/sq. ft

Most homeowners pick a neutral sealer so as to show off the color of the wood. Some sealers are oil-based urethane, water-based urethane, oil-based wax, Rubio Monocoat oil, and Osmo oil.

Oil-based

Oil-based polyurethane is popular because it gives a more traditional look that gets richer over time. It also lasts longer and costs less at $1.81/sq. ft. Scratches on this finish don't seem to stand out as much as they do with water-based finishes, especially when the sheen used is satin or matte.

Water-based

Water-based finishes dry faster, so much so that the refinished floor can handle light foot traffic within two days, but they have the same curing time as oil-based finishes—about 7–10 days, depending on humidity.

Water-based finishes will not get richer with age in the way an oil-based finish will, which is important to know when used on light-colored woods. Scratches usually appear white on water-based urethane, making them more noticeable if using this finish, especially on darker-colored floors. Each water-based finishing coat takes 2–4 days to dry, and furniture can be moved back in after 24 hours.

Both oil- and water-based finishes also come with low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds), and some are smell sensitive.

Additional costs

  1. Exotic wood usually costs more to refinish because it may require special treatment or a high-end stain or sealer.
  2. More square footage to refinish can increase the price because the equipment rental is for a longer period of time.
  3. If the previous finish was badly done, it takes extra time and care to restore the wood before refinishing it.

Costs by service

Hardwood Refinishing Service Average Cost
Stairs
Stairs will cost extra because each one must be sanded and finished by hand.
$45–$125 per tread
Wax scraping
Wax scraping in order to get the floor ready for sanding.
$0.75-$4 /sq. ft
Wire brushing
Wire brushing to give the wood a more unique look.
$2–5 /sq. ft
Fuming or smoking
Fuming or smoking gives the wood a distressed look.
$1–$1.65 /sq. ft
Moving furniture
Moving furniture can cost an extra per room.
$20–50 /room
Deep scratches
Deep scratches need to be filled, sanded, and colored.
$25–100 /each
Replacing molding and trim
Replacing molding and trim to match the new stain.
$5.50–$9 /linear foot


DIY Hardwood Floor Refinishing (Do It Yourself)

Many homeowners have regretted trying to refinish their floors themselves due to the costs of equipment, time taken, cleaning, and the high risk of sanding the floor unevenly in places to where it must be replaced.

The equipment can gouge the floor in places and not sand enough in others, leaving it looking very much like a home-done job. Sometimes the floor is so old that nothing can save it, and all the time and energy is wasted, whereas a flooring professional will know almost immediately what’s worth saving.

In addition, you may not know how to fill cracks properly, or your staining will be haphazard rather than evenly distributed. Some DIYers even have their oily rags spontaneously combust when they don’t seal them during oxidation/drying.

No offense, but the labor cost of approx. $3.57/sq. ft you’re trying to save might end up looking a lot cheaper than what it costs to fix the damage your DIY job does.

Maintaining your refinished wood floor

I Got a Guy in Jordan, MN, says to do routine dusting and to never use a wet mop on your wood floors.

“Only a professional wood cleaning product should be used, because ammonia or other floor cleaning products can damage the floor’s finish. Wipe up spills as soon as possible and keep damp items off the floor. When vacuuming wood floors, be sure to have a soft brush attachment, as this will prevent scratches from appearing. Prolonged sunlight exposure can cause fading, so close window coverings in those areas. Place protector pads on furniture legs.”

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Before Hiring a Hardwood Floor Refinisher

Check your final three contractor picks on the following issues before making your final choice.

  1. Years of experience refinishing floors
  2. Heavy furniture removal included or not in the quote
  3. Cleanup and removal included or not
  4. A certified wood finisher with the National Wood Flooring Association
  5. A member of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association
  6. The warranty provided
  7. Is the contractor bonded and insured?
  8. How much of an upfront deposit is required?
  9. How long the project will take from beginning to end
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