How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Discover how much it costs to refinish hardwood floors

Sander machine with cord passing next to person standing on hardwood floor

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

A hardwood floor will eventually start to show its age by developing scratches and dings, but this doesn't mean that you need to replace the floor entirely. You have the option of refinishing the material to revitalize the floor completely by sanding down the surface to remove the finish and any blemishes. Reapply color treatments and seal the hardwood floor with a top-coat finish to give the appearance of a newly installed floor for a fraction of the price.

Nationally, the average cost for refinishing a hardwood floor is $1,828, within a typical range of $1,098 to $2,599, but the actual costs can vary depending on many factors, especially the availability and cost of labor in your area. Average costs per square foot range from about $3 to $8, but these costs can fluctuate based on the complexity of the work and the total size of the area you want to have refinished. If you have hired a contractor to refinish the floors throughout the whole home, you may get a better price per square foot than if they were only working on a single floor, though this varies between flooring installers.

If you are refinishing hardwood stairs, instead of a floor, the cost averages about $40 to $75 per stair tread. The increased price is due to the small surfaces that require skilled, time-consuming detail work.

Use this guide to for a more thorough breakdown of how much it costs to refinish hardwood floors.

cost of refinishing hardwood floors
The Spruce

Signs the Hardwood Needs Refinishing

A hardwood floor can typically last for about 7 to 10 years without needing to be refinished, but when it starts to show signs of wear, it's a good idea to consider hiring a professional refinisher to update the look. Signs that the hardwood is in need of refinishing include major scratches and dents in the wood, protrusions or splinters, fading, discoloration, water stains, cupping, and gray or dull-looking spots.

If you notice any of these signs on your hardwood floor, it may be time to start planning for this project. Research the costs involved and put together a reasonable budget, so you can hire a professional floor refinisher to renew the look and feel of your hardwood floor.

Before Hiring a Flooring Professional

After coming to the conclusion that you need to refinish the hardwood floor, you will want to research costs, put together a budget, and look into flooring professionals. Spend some time researching various companies in the area to narrow down your choices. While a lot of information can be found on company websites, it's also worth contacting the customer service department to get answers to any questions you may have.

Make sure to ask about the company experience, certifications, pictures of previous jobs, and if there are any clients you can contact for references. You may also want to ask if the company can provide you with the sanding schedule to follow. This is because companies that cut corners to save costs may only do two passes, instead of the preferred three to five passes. Once you have had time to do some research, consider any questions you still have and ask the customer service department or speak to the flooring professional directly, so you have all the information you need before hiring a flooring pro to refinish the hardwood.

Questions to Ask a Flooring Professional:

  • Does the estimate include the cost of moving furniture and cleaning?
  • How long will the job take?
  • Do you offer a warranty?
  • Are you insured and bonded?
  • Do you have any payment plan options?
  • How will you protect my home from all the dust?
  • When can I walk on the floor after it’s refinished?
  • What type of stain and coating is best for my flooring?
  • What do you do about damage that happens during the job?

Refinishing Process

Regardless of whether you try to refinish your hardwood floors yourself or have a professional contractor do it, the process will follow a logical sequence. There are four major labor parts of a hardwood refinishing project that need to be accounted for in any estimate.


Hammer and nails scattered on wooden floor

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Preparation involves getting the floor ready to be refinished and consists of repairing damaged areas, cleaning the floor thoroughly, and then ensuring that the surface is completely dry and free of dust and particles before proceeding. The average cost of labor is about $2 to $8 per square foot or $60 to $160 per hour. If the floor has deep stains, they may be treated individually before refinishing begins. Broken or missing boards will need to be replaced. Any protruding nail heads will be driven down below the surface of the wood. Additionally, most contractors will remove baseboard shoe moldings to allow sanding equipment to sand right up to the wall edges, then the moldings are replaced after sanding and finishing are complete.


Sanding machine passing across wooden floor by hand

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Sanding is the process of grinding the wood flooring surface down to below the level where any blemishes or treatments have penetrated. Sanding alone will typically cost about $0.50 to $3 per square foot. This work is usually done with an upright, walk-behind power sander fitted with a sanding disc or screen. Edge work is generally done with an edging sander or belt sander. After sanding, the floor is thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned.


Once the floor has been sanded down, it will resemble new untreated wood. Depending on the wood species, some people prefer to apply a surface finish directly over the bare wood. Or you can apply various dyes or stains to color the wood before applying a surface finish. Staining adds about $1 to $3 per square foot to the final price. Oil- or water-based wood stain is the standard material used for coloring, applied by rubbing it into the wood with a cloth or staining pads.

Top Coating

Hardwood floors painted with water or oil-based polyurethane for topcoat

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

The final step is to apply a tough, durable topcoat finish, usually a water- or oil-based polyurethane. Coating tends to cost about $1 to $2 per square foot. The top coat is applied with a brush and roller or finish pad, and it usually includes two or even three coats. Polyurethane finishes come in several gloss finishes, from flat to high-sheen. The final coat may be buffed to increase its sheen and smoothness.

Factors Affecting Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

There are a wide variety of influences that can increase or decrease the final cost of refinishing the hardwood floors, including the floor dimensions, hardwood flooring types, local labor costs, company experience, and several additional factors.

Floor Dimensions

Typically, you can expect to spend more on a larger floor refinishing project than you would if you were just refinishing the floor in a single room. However, it generally costs more per square foot for refinishing smaller spaces, while floor refinishers may give you a break on the cost per square footage if they are completing multiple rooms or even the entire home.

Room Size (Ft) Square Foot  Cost to Refinish Hardwood 
4x10  40  $200 to $350 
10x10 100  $300 to $500 
12x12  144  $450 to $750 
16x16  256  $800 to $1,300 
20x20  400  $1,200 to $2,000 
24x24  576  $1,750 to $2,900 
Small House/Condo  1,000  $3,000 to $5,000 
Medium House 2,000  $6,000 to $10,000 
Large House  3,000  $9,000 to $15,000 

Hardwood Flooring Types

There are a range of hardwood flooring types, including oak, cherry wood, parquet, engineered hardwood, and more. While the cost per square foot doesn't change substantially between flooring types, there is a slight difference in cost that could affect the final estimate.

Hardwood Flooring Types Refinishing Cost Per Square Foot 
Bamboo $2 to $6
Mohagany  $6 to $8 
Oak $3 to $5 
Cherry  $3 to $5 
Parquet  $3 to $5 
Maple  $6 to $8 
Pine  $4 to $7 
Engineered Hardwood $3 to $5 

Local Labor Costs

In general, contracting companies located in large metropolitan areas are going to charge more for a hardwood refinishing project because the demand for their services is higher. However, the size of the city isn't the only factor that influences the cost of refinishing the floors. The cost can also fluctuate depending on your region or state due to the local economy within this area. For instance, if you live in New York, you may only need to pay $970 to $2,250 for floor refinishing, while South Carolina residents have a significantly higher cost for the same work, which ranges from $2,250 to $4,300.

State Cost of Hardwood Refinishing 
New York $970 to $2,250 
Ohio  $1,100 to $2,300 
Illinois  $1,100 to $2,400 
Texas  $1,100 to $2,600 
Florida  $1,330 to $2,800 
South Carolina  $2,250 to $4,300 

Company Experience

You may come across 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 subpar work or jobs that take longer than they should. Repairs to these mistakes can end up costing more than the original project, so it's best to opt for a company with demonstrable experience.

Other Factors

Additional factors that can influence the cost of refinishing the floor include moving furniture, removing old flooring, minor repairs, and cleanup.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Refinishing vs. Replacing

Refinishing the floors is similar to refacing the kitchen cupboards. You keep the majority of the existing material, but take steps to improve the overall appearance for less than the cost of replacement. Alternately, you could hire professional carpenters or flooring installers to put in a new hardwood floor. This process takes longer and costs about $2,500 to $6,800 on average.

The average cost for professional hardwood floor refinishing ranges from about $1,084 to $2,572. This process removes any dents, dings, scratches, or blemishes by sanding down the floors. A stain can then be used to change the color, or a clear sealant can be applied to retain the appearance of the natural wood grain. After adding a top coat to really make the refinished floor gleam, it can look like a brand new floor has been installed.

DIY vs. Professional Refinishing

Some avid DIYers may be considering tackling a floor refinishing project, but unless you are knowledgeable and experienced with floor repairs, maintenance, and installation, it isn't advised. The average cost to hire a professional for a floor refinishing project is $1,821, while a skilled DIYer will still need to pay about $500 to $1,000 for all the materials, tools, and other supplies they will require.

This means that after putting in all the time and effort, the expected savings is about $821 to $1,321 if you choose to take on this project instead of hiring a professional. Just keep in mind that the results will reflect your skill. Incorrect sanding or sanding too often could cause irreparable damage, leading to the replacement of the hardwood floor—a much costlier undertaking. It’s better to hire a flooring pro near you.

Safety Considerations

Refinishing a hardwood floor can be a very messy and chaotic endeavor. The process creates substantial amounts of airborne sawdust, which can cause allergies, asthmatic reactions, or difficulty breathing. By wearing a mask when you are sanding and cleaning up the dust, you can work in the area without putting your lungs at risk.

After sanding the floor, you will typically apply stains or other finishes, which can have strong, chemical smells. If the work area is not well ventilated, the chemicals from the stain or sealant can build up in the enclosed space, becoming a threat to your health. During the application of finishes, make sure to wear breathing protection. Keep at least one door or window open and set up a fan to improve the ventilation as you can.

  • Is it worth it to refinish hardwood floors?

    If you have existing hardwood floors that have seen better days, you don't need to replace the entire floor to get an updated look. Refinishing the floors is a great way to update the appearance of the home without paying for a new floor installation.

  • Is it cheaper to refinish or replace hardwood floors?

    Generally, it is more affordable to update the home by refinishing the floors than it is to replace old hardwood with brand new flooring.

  • How long do you have to stay off hardwood floors after refinishing?

    After refinishing the floors, it's recommended to stay off of the hardwood completely for about six hours. You can walk on the hardwood with socks on after six hours, but don't walk on the floor with shoes on until after 24 hours. Once 48 hours have passed, you can return the furniture to the room and allow pets to walk on the floor again.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Refinishing Your Floors. National Wood Flooring Association.

  2. Löfstedt H, Hagström K, Bryngelsson IL, Holmström M, Rask-Andersen A. Respiratory symptoms and lung function in relation to wood dust and monoterpene exposure in the wood pellet industryUps J Med Sci., vol. 122, no. 2, 2017, pp. 78-84. doi:10.1080/03009734.2017.1285836

  3. Wood Stains and Finishes. Environmental Working Group.