Cost to Refinish Wood Floors: Price Guide

cost to refinish wood floors

Breathe new life into your tired hardwood floors without breaking the bank! I’ve been in your shoes, wondering the cost to refinish wood floors.

In this article, we’ll explore the factors that can cause the cost to fluctuate. As a bonus, I’ll share some tried-and-true tips for saving money while still achieving the gorgeous, gleaming floors you deserve.

Reviving your hardwood floors doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Understanding the cost to refinish wood floors upfront can empower you to make informed decisions and potentially save a bundle in the process.

Let’s embark on this journey together and give your home the update it craves! With careful planning and the right professional assistance, you can breathe new life into your floors without breaking the bank.

Ready to Transform Your Floors? Contact Sandless in Seattle today for a free inspection and consultation at 206-396-3472.

Let’s bring elegance back to your hardwood floors in Seattle.

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Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors is one of the best ways to bring new life to your home. It’s a project I’ve tackled many times over the years, both in my own house and for clients.

And let me tell you, the transformation is always stunning. But before you dive in, it’s important to understand the cost to refinish wood floors.

Hardwood floor refinishing can range from $3 to $8 per square foot, with the average homeowner spending between $1,000 to $2,400 for a 300-square-foot room.

Of course, the total cost varies based on factors like the size of your space, the condition of your floors, and whether you DIY or hire a pro. More on that in a bit.

Factors That Affect Cost

So, what exactly determines the cost to refinish wood floors? Here are the key factors:

1. Square footage: The larger the area, the higher the total cost. However, many contractors offer discounts for bigger projects, so the cost per square foot may decrease.

2. Floor condition: Repairs will be needed before refinishing if your floors are severely damaged with deep scratches or gouges. This can add $2+ per square foot to the project cost.

3. Location: Labor and material costs vary by region. Expect to pay more in areas with high living costs.

4. Finish type: Basic water-based polyurethane starts at $3 per square foot, while high-end oil-based finishes can be $5+. Specialty finishes like wire-brushed or distressed looks also cost more.

5. Number of coats: Most floors need 2-3 coats of finish, but high-traffic areas may require more. Each additional coat adds $1+ per square foot.


Average Cost Range

To give you a better idea, here are some real-world cost ranges for refinishing hardwood:– 200 sq ft room: $600 – $1,600 – 500 sq ft room: $1,500 – $4,000 – 1,000 sq ft: $3,000 – $8,000 – 1,500 sq ft: $4,500 – $12,000 I recently refinished a client’s 800 square foot living/dining area with Brazilian cherry floors. We repaired some minor scratches, sanded down to bare wood, and applied 3 coats of oil-based satin finish. The total project cost came to $3,800, or about $4.75 per square foot.

DIY vs. Professional Refinishing

As a DIYer at heart, I totally get the appeal of tackling projects yourself. Refinishing hardwood floors is no exception.

By going the DIY route, you can save a chunk of change on labor costs, which typically account for 50-70% of the project cost. However, refinishing hardwood is a physically demanding, time-consuming, and technically challenging process.

To achieve a flawless finish, it requires specialized equipment like drum sanders and buffers, plus a keen eye for detail. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s best to leave it to the pros.

Professional flooring contractors have the experience, tools, and expertise to get the job done right, with results that last for decades.

When weighing DIY vs. pro, consider:

Equipment costs: Renting a drum sander and edger runs $50-$80 per day, plus sandpaper, brushes, and finish. Buying supplies for a DIY job can cost $200-$500+.

Time: Refinishing a 300 sq ft room takes a pro 1-3 days, but a DIYer 3-5+ days. Larger projects can take weeks.

Mess: Sanding kicks up a ton of dust that gets everywhere. Pros use dustless systems to minimize mess, but DIY requires extensive prep and cleanup.

Mistakes: One wrong move with a sander can leave deep gouges that are tough to fix. Drips, bubbles, and uneven application of stain or finish are also common DIY errors.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing Process

Now that you know the costs, let’s dive into the actual process of refinishing hardwood floors. As someone who’s done this countless times, I can attest that proper prep and technique are key to achieving professional-quality results.


Before any sanding begins, the room must be fully prepped. This includes:

1. Removing all furniture, rugs, and window coverings. If you have a lot of heavy pieces, consider hiring movers to avoid damage.

2. Cover vents, electrical outlets, and light fixtures with plastic and tape to remove dust. Seal off doorways with plastic sheeting.

3. Inspect the floor for protruding nails, loose boards, or deep scratches/gouges that need repair. Use a nail set to sink exposed nails and wood filler to patch holes.

4. Thoroughly sweep and vacuum the floor to remove dirt and debris. Any residue left behind can damage sanding equipment and affect the final finish.


With prep complete, it’s time to sand. The goal is to remove the old finish and create a smooth surface for the new finish to adhere to. For most floors, sanding involves 3 stages:

1. Rough sanding with a coarse grit (20-40) to remove the old finish and major imperfections. This is done with a drum sander, which can leave visible scratches, so it’s important to keep it moving and overlap passes by 50%.

2. Medium sanding with a finer grit (50-80) to smooth out drum sander marks and create an even surface. An edger is used to sand along walls and in tight spots that the drum sander can’t reach.

3. Fine sanding with a very fine grit (100-120) to remove any remaining sanding marks and create an ultra-smooth surface. A buffer with a sanding screen is used for this final step. The floor must be vacuumed thoroughly between each sanding stage to remove dust. Any remaining particles will show up in the final finish.


After sanding, you can stain the wood flooring to change its color. This is a purely aesthetic choice – stain doesn’t offer any protection and can actually make scratches and wear more visible.

If you do choose to stain, it’s critical to apply it evenly and wipe off excess to prevent blotches or lap marks. Water-based stains dry quickly and have less odor, while oil-based penetrate deeper but take longer to dry.


The final step is applying a clear protective finish, typically polyurethane. This gives hardwood its sheen and shields it from wear and tear.

Water-based poly dries fast, has low odor and VOCs, and dries crystal clear. But it can raise the grain of the wood, requiring additional sanding between coats.

Oil-based poly is more durable and moisture-resistant but takes longer to dry and has a slight amber tint. Regardless of type, 2-3 coats are needed for optimal durability.

Each coat must be lightly sanded with fine-grit sandpaper and cleaned with a tack cloth before the next is applied.


Once the final coat is dry (at least 24 hours), it’s time for cleanup. This involves:

1. Removing all the plastic sheeting and tape from vents, outlets, and fixtures.

2. Vacuuming and dusting every surface to remove sanding dust. Pay special attention to window sills, baseboards, and corners where dust likes to hide.

3. Wiping down the floor with a damp microfiber mop to pick up any remaining particles.

4. Waiting at least 48 hours before moving furniture back and resuming normal foot traffic. Full cure can take up to 30 days, so treat your newly refinished floors gently at first.

Choosing a Hardwood Floor Refinishing Contractor

Choosing the right hardwood flooring contractor is essential if you’ve decided to hire a hardwood flooring professionals for your hardwood floor refinishing project. A quality refinishing job can last for decades, while a shoddy one will have you calling for repairs in no time.

As someone who’s been in the flooring business for years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to contractors. Here’s what to look for to ensure you get top-notch results:

Experience and Reputation

First and foremost, you want a contractor who knows what they’re doing. Refinish hardwood flooring is a skill that takes years to master – it’s not something you want to entrust to a newbie.

Look for a company that’s been in business for at least 5-10 years and specializes in hardwood refinishing (not just installation). Check their website and social media for before-and-after photos of recent projects.

Next, dig into their reputation. Read reviews on Google, Yelp, and the BBB to see what past clients have to say. Look for red flags like complaints about shoddy workmanship, missed deadlines, or poor communication.

Finally, ask for references. Any reputable contractor should happily provide contact info for a few satisfied customers. Call them and ask about their experience, the quality of the work, and if they’d hire the contractor again.

Licensing and Insurance

Refinishing contractors should be licensed and insured to protect you from liability in case of accidents or damage. Requirements vary by state, but at minimum, look for:

– Business license: Shows they’re a legit company and not a fly-by-night operation.

– Contractor license: Proves they’ve met the state’s requirements for training, experience, and financial stability.

– Liability insurance: Covers damage to your property caused by the contractor’s work. Ask for proof of coverage and make sure it’s up to date.

– Workers’ comp: Protects you from liability if a worker gets injured on your property. Without it, you could be on the hook for medical bills and lost wages. If a contractor balks at providing this info, consider it a red flag and move on.

Pricing and Estimates

Of course, cost is a major factor when choosing a contractor. But beware of lowball bids that seem too good to be true – they usually are.

Get itemized estimates from at least 3 contractors that break down the costs for labor, materials, and any additional fees (like moving furniture or disposal). Make sure they’re all bidding on the same scope of work so you can compare apples to apples.

Keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the best deal. A contractor who cuts corners on prep, uses inferior products, or rushes the job to save a buck will cost you more in the long run when you have to redo the work.

In general, expect to pay $3-$5 per square foot for a basic refinishing job, $5-$8 for a more involved project with repairs or custom stain, and $8+ for a high-end designer finish.

Scheduling and Timeline

Refinishing hardwood floors is a messy, disruptive process that can put your space out of commission for days or even weeks. That’s why it’s crucial to nail down a timeline upfront and make sure it works with your schedule.

A typical refinishing job takes 3-5 days from start to finish, but larger or more complex projects can take longer. Factors that can affect the timeline include:

– Size of the space: The more square footage, the longer it will take to sand, stain, and finish.

– Condition of the floors: Floors with extensive damage or carpeting that needs removal will add time to the project.

– Type of finish: Oil-based finishes take longer to dry between coats than water-based.

– Weather: High humidity can slow drying times, while cold temps can affect the curing process. Before signing a contract, make sure the contractor provides a detailed schedule that outlines each stage of the project and estimated completion dates.

Ask about their policy for delays due to weather or unforeseen issues. Finally, discuss logistics like work hours, parking, and access to your home.

Will the crew work weekends? Where will they store equipment? How will they protect your belongings from dust? Getting these details ironed out ahead of time will save headaches later.


Key Takeaway: 

Refinishing your hardwood floors can breathe new life into your home, with costs ranging from $3 to $8 per square foot. The price depends on factors like room size, floor condition, and finish type. DIY can save labor costs but comes with challenges. For a flawless finish that lasts decades, consider hiring a pro.

FAQs in Relation to Cost to Refinish Wood Floors

Is it cheaper to refinish wood floors or replace them?

Refinishing wood floors typically costs less than replacing them. It’s a smart way to save money and keep the charm.

How long does it take to refinish 1000 square feet of hardwood floors?

To refinish 1000 square feet, plan for about 4-5 days. This includes prep, sanding, staining, and sealing steps.

Is it worth refinishing old hardwood floors?

Absolutely. Refinishing brings out the beauty in old floors and can significantly boost your home’s value, too.


A Guide to Hardwood Floor Refinishing and Restoration

So, there you have it – a comprehensive look at the cost to refinish wood floors. We’ve covered everything from the average price range to the factors that can impact your final bill, like the size of your space, the condition of your floors, and the type of finish you choose.

I get it; you want to save money on your hardwood floor renovation. But here’s the thing – cutting corners now could cost you big time later.Investing in top-notch supplies and experienced pros is the smart play. They’ll transform your lackluster wood floors into a showstopping centerpiece that’ll make your home feel warm and inviting, all while boosting its value.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to take the next step in your floor refinishing journey. Get ready to fall in love with your home all over again!

Your hardwood floors deserve the best. Sandless in Seattle is your local solution for dustless, affordable refinishing. Say goodbye to worn-out floors and hello to elegance.

Ready to Get Started? Call us now at 206-396-3472 to schedule an appointment for your Seattle hardwood floor transformation.