How Much Does It Cost To Refinish Hardwood Floors?

By Cezar

The cost of refinishing hardwood floors can be highly variable. It depends upon both the size of the floor and the type of finish you’re applying. It also depends upon whether you decide to hire a professional or do it yourself.

There are some average price ranges to help give a baseline starting point, however. On this page, we’ll show you what those baseline starting points (including price per square foot) are and what your best approach might be for your own hardwood floors.

What Does it Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

The cost of refinishing hardwood floors will depend upon your location, your materials, the size of your floors, and whether or not you choose to do it yourself. The general cost for your hardwood floors, though, should fall into these ranges:

  • The average cost of refinishing hardwood floors is about $1,684, with a high-end at about $2,500.
  • The average cost per square foot ranges from $3.25 to $5.00.
  • The average cost to refinish stairs ranges from $50 to $80 for each stair tread. The cost is so much higher than the general cost per square foot because stairs require such fine detail in sanding and finishing.

If you’re thinking of doing the work yourself, costs to consider:

  • Polyurethane costs $40 to $85 per gallon. This is one of the most widely ranging costs on this page, though, because there are many brands and variety of floor finish, including ones that aren’t polyurethane.
  • An upright sander runs about $60 to $70 per day
  • A buffer will also run around $60 to $70 per day

When considering doing the work yourself, remember that mishaps can extend work time, which can increase cost. It doesn’t do much good to save a few pennies per square foot if you damage your floors beyond repair or have to extend equipment rental time too far.

Is It Cheaper to Refinish Or Replace Hardwood Floors?

This is one area that’s easy to answer. The cost to refinish hardwood floors will always be cheaper than the cost to replace them. Hardwood flooring is expensive, even if you go with the cheaper engineered hardwood floors. The price for installing the hardwood floors can be even higher.

There’s not much more to say here. No matter your situation, the cost of refinishing hardwood floors will always be cheaper than the cost of replacing them. It’s tough to estimate the amount of labor required per square foot for sanding hardwood floors, but anyone who has done it will say, “It’s a lot.”

Any savings you make on the front end are going to be for naught if you end up damaging your hardwood floors, which is rather easy while sanding. Hardwood flooring can only endure so many refinishes before it’s been sanded too far down. If you don’t know the warning signs of this, you can end up replacing rather than refinishing your hardwood floors.

Is it Cheaper to Do if Yourself or to Hire a Contractor?

The cost to refinish hardwood floors may seem so high that you want to save some money by doing it yourself. There is a lot to consider before making that choice, though.

Refinishing hardwood floors isn’t easy. Refinishing hardwood floors well is even less so. The sanding alone often leaves do-it-yourselfers regretting the decision to take this job on themselves. As noted above, the cost of refinishing hardwood floors might seem high, but it’s definitely lower than the cost of replacing them.

Factors That Determine The Cost Of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

There’s a lot of work involved in refinishing hardwood floors, which means there are many variables in the price. The cost to refinish hardwood floors will depend most upon the following factors.


There are two aspects to this: your geographic location and the location of the room. The cost of refinishing hardwood floors can vary widely by geographic region. Likewise, each room is going to present different potential challenges to refinishing hardwood flooring. A room that is on the third floor of a building with limited access, for instance, might require a higher cost per square foot because of all the labor involved.

Floor Size

This is probably the most obvious variable in determining the cost to refinish hardwood floors, especially if the provider estimates cost per square foot.

Even if you elect to refinish your hardwood flooring yourself, you’re going to have to pay more for materials if there’s more floor to work on.


This cost is based largely on whether or not you decide to hire a professional or do the work yourself. This is also why so many people choose to refinish hardwood floors themselves.

The cost to refinish hardwood floors is only one aspect of the work, though. Remember that this is a long-term investment for your home. Hiring subpar labor can leave you regretful, just as doing the work yourself can.


The current state of your hardwood floors can impact the cost per square foot. Floors that are damaged might require a lot of repairs, which means a lot of time and therefore cost. Floors that are excessively damaged might be beyond the point of refinishing.


A lot of the time spent refinishing floors is spent sanding them. The cost to refinish hardwood floors is largely the cost to sand them, in fact.

Some people decide to take this work on themselves, and some are glad that they did. However, many people come to regret attempting it. Many even end up hiring a professional, anyway, which only exaggerates the cost to refinish hardwood floors. If you sink money into renting equipment and then hire a pro, anyway, then you only increase the average cost per square foot.

You’re probably looking at about $0.64 to $3.80 per square foot for floor sanding.

Material Costs

Hardwood floors come in a wide range of prices. Engineered hardwood is cheaper than true hardwood, but even among those two broad categories are options of widely different prices.

Then there is the cost of the finish and the protectant.


Staining requires careful, skilled labor. It’s one of those things that just about anyone can do, but few people can do well.

The cost of staining generally runs between $1.50 to $4 per square foot. Some people do the sanding themselves and hire only for the stain. It’s not a terrible idea, but keep in mind that untrained sanding can cause real damage to your floor. It’s also quite labor intensive.

Coating and Finishing

After the stain, floors need to be coated in a protective layer. Any provider who does the stain is almost certainly going to handle the coating and finishing, as well.

The Final Clean-up

This is a cost that many do-it-yourselfers forget to incorporate into their budget. There’s a chance you’ll have to take the debris to a dump or some other disposal facility, which can cost money. If you hire a professional to do your floors, they likely include clean-up in their price estimates, but check first to make sure.

Final Thoughts

No one looks forward to spending a lot of money on refinishing hardwood floors, but it’s an area that really does benefit from professional help. Before going into it yourself, contact a provider to get a quote. They will usually offer them obligation-free, so it can’t hurt, but it can end up saving you a lot of grief (and money) in the long run.