Looking to refinish your hardwood floors and wondering about the cost? 

Whether you’re maintaining existing floors or planning future renovations, understanding the cost and process can help you make informed decisions. 

Will you save money with a DIY project? Does it matter which hardwood species you have, and of course, what’s the average cost to refinish your floors? This article will cover everything you need to know. 

Let’s get started and explore the ins and outs of hardwood floor refinishing!

General Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors involves several cost factors, including the size of the area, the method used, whether you choose a DIY approach or hire professionals, and the type of wood. 

On average, refinishing costs between $3 and $8 per square foot if you hire a professional. 

For example, a 500-square-foot area will cost between $1,500 and $4,000 with traditional methods, and between $2,500 and $4,000 with dustless methods, which are less messy but pricier​.

Shop By Brand

Take a look at the floor selections offered by our most trusted brands and find the one that excels at meeting your needs.

The DIY vs. Hiring-a-Professional Cost to Refinish Hardwood 

Labor is a big factor in the cost of any flooring project. If you’re looking to save some money and you’re extra handy, DIY refinishes are possible. But if you don’t have much experience with DIY projects…well, it’s probably better to hire a professional. 

DIY Cost 

There are a few costs to consider if you’re taking this project on yourself.

  • You’ll need to rent an upright sander, which generally costs around $60/day. That number goes up if you opt for a dustless sander.
  • Finishes can cost between $40 and $90 per gallon depending on the thickness and quality.
  • Stain averages about $0.33 per square foot.
  • Other materials you’ll need include sandpaper, smaller tools like chisels and levels, and lots of plastic sheeting and materials to keep the dust contained.

Altogether, you’re looking at a DIY cost to refinish hardwood flooring between $1.50 and $5.00 per square foot. Of course, the quality of materials you choose and your local tool rental prices are the biggest factors. 

Cost of Hiring a Professional

There are many talented contractors that offer a wide range of prices for refinishing hardwood floors. As we’ve mentioned previously, these often range from $3 to $8 per square foot. 

The higher end of that range will include most dustless methods, and will keep your space a bit more breathable. 

There are some situations where hiring a professional is always best. If there are significant repairs or replacements to make to your floors, it’s almost always better to have a pro do the work.

Impact of Wood Species on Refinishing Costs

The type of wood species used in hardwood flooring significantly impacts the cost of refinishing due to varying hardness, grain patterns, and the difficulty of the refinishing process. 

Oak, one of the most popular choices, is durable and relatively easy to refinish, typically costing between $3 and $5 per square foot​​. 

Cherry wood, known for its rich color and smooth grain, also falls within the same price range of $3 to $5 per square foot, but its dense nature can make staining more challenging.

Maple and mahogany, which are harder and denser, are more expensive to refinish, ranging from $5 to $8 per square foot. These woods require more labor and care to avoid damage during sanding and staining​. 

Pine, a softer wood, costs between $4 and $7 per square foot. Although easier to sand, pine’s softness means it can be more susceptible to damage during the process, potentially requiring additional repair work.

Bamboo, while not technically wood, is also refinished similarly and costs about $3 to $6 per square foot. Its durability and eco-friendly nature make it a popular choice, but some types can be challenging to stain.

Overview of the Refinishing Process

In case you don’t know this stuff already, it’s probably good to learn about the different steps of the refinishing process for when you dive into it yourself (or hire a pro to do the same).

Step 1: Sanding 

By sanding off the top layer of your floor, you remove all the scratches and scuffs from the wood. Once you’re back to a clean slate, you can refinish your floors however you like.

The cost of sanding can range from $0.50 to $3 per square foot, depending on the condition of the floor and the type of wood​

Step 2: Staining

Some people choose to re-stain their hardwood at this point, but it generally depends on the types of wood flooring they have. 

For example, if you’ve got hickory, you probably won’t want to stain it too much because it has a super-distinct grain pattern.

If you have a more stain-friendly surface like Douglas fir flooring or pine flooring, though, this is a great opportunity to really personalize it and make it your own.

Staining costs range from $1 to $3 per square foot, with the price varying based on the quality and type of stain used

Step 3: Recoating (& Bringing it Back to Life)

Once staining is completed (or skipped), the floor is recoated with a finish to seal and protect the wood. Afterward, it is polished to enhance its shine and smoothness, bringing the floor back to life.

The overall cost for recoating can vary, but typically falls between $3 to $8 per square foot.

What Other Factors Affect the Price of Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

Now that we know how the overall costs to refinish hardwood floors shake out, let’s take a look at a few other factors that can impact the price.

Finish Choices 

Your finish choices will also affect the price of your project. Oil-based polyurethane is less expensive ($20–$40 per gallon) and easier to use than water-based polyurethane, which costs a little more at roughly $25–$50 per gallon. 

It’s also easier to cover mistakes with oil-based polyurethane, but it will turn an amber color over time—whereas water-based polyurethane dries faster and keeps its color.

Factor in Any Furniture Moving Costs Too

The process of refinishing hardwood flooring is messy, even if you spend more on dust removal since everything needs to be removed from the area. If you’re paying someone to do this, it’ll add to the overall cost. 

For 2024, the cost of moving furniture typically ranges from $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot, depending on the complexity and amount of furniture. 

If you choose to handle the moving yourself, you will need to factor in the time and effort required, as well as the need for a temporary storage space for your items.

If Repairs are Needed, It Could Be More Expensive

If there are planks with damage that sanding cannot fix, those planks will need to be replaced.

This involves carefully removing the damaged planks without affecting the surrounding boards, sourcing matching wood, and precisely fitting the new pieces. Consequently, this additional work will increase both the time required and the overall cost of the project.

About The Author

Steph Gregerson

June 16, 2024

Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can't get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times.