Flooring

How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

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Refinishing hardwood flooring is a popular home improvement project that can breathe new life into dull or worn-out floors, significantly enhancing the aesthetic appeal of any space. The cost of refinishing hardwood floors varies widely based on several factors, including the size of the area, the condition of the floors, the type of finishing products used, and regional labor rates.

This beautiful flip house was a previous project we worked on a couple of years ago. One of the first things we noticed within this home was the existing hardwood floors that just needed some TLC. For this particular house, we decided to refinish the existing solid red oak hardwood flooring instead of installing engineered as we have in our current home. As much as we love engineered flooring, sometimes it just makes sense to keep what is there. We calculated both options and I’m going to break down the cost of how much it could cost you to refinish your hardwood floors.

Factors Influencing Cost

1. Floor Area: The size of the space plays a crucial role in determining the overall cost. Refinishing companies typically charge per square foot, with prices ranging from around $3 to $8. Larger areas will naturally incur higher total costs, but the per-square-foot rate may decrease for extensive projects due to the efficiency of scaling the work.

2. Floor Condition: The current condition of your hardwood floors significantly affects the refinishing cost. Floors with extensive damage, deep scratches, or warped boards require more preparation work, including sanding, repairs, or even replacement of sections, which can increase the project’s cost.

3. Type of Finish: The choice of finish (e.g., oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, wax, or stain) impacts the cost. Water-based polyurethane tends to be more expensive than oil-based, but it dries faster and has a lower odor and VOC content. Custom or high-end finishes will also add to the cost.

4. Geographic Location: Labor costs vary by region, with higher costs in metropolitan areas compared to rural regions. The cost of living and the availability of refinishing services in your area can significantly influence the price.

Refinish or Replace

When you own or buy an older home this may be a question that you have before you make the decision to refinish. The biggest thing to look at is what condition the floors are actually in and have they been refinished in the past. If they are in a good condition with minor scrapes and have never been refinished, you are probably in good shape to go ahead with it. If they have been refinished before, you want to make sure there is enough wood thickness to sand again. Ideally, you would want 1/8 of an inch of wood at the top of the board, above the tongue and groove, in order to refinish.

Process

Prepping

The first step in refinishing hardwood floors is to remove any nails or objects from the flooring that would impede the process. Baseboards don’t have to be removed if you are using shoe molding. If you already have a shoe molding down, you’ll definitely want to take it up. This will allow the finishers to get as close to the baseboard as possible. Then after the process is done the shoe molding can be reinstalled.

During the prepping process, they will also clean the floors really well and treat any bad stains. They will then make sure the floors are completely dry. Another thing they will do before sanding is to replace any bad boards and fill holes. If you have any area that needs to be put down or replaced, you would also do it at this time.

Sanding

Next is the messy step but is the step that really makes the floors look brand new. Most of the floors will be sanded with a large upright sander that is very loud. Some places will also be hand-sanded in areas that are a little tricky or maybe some problem areas. After sanding, the floors will then be vacuumed and cleaned to prepare for stains.

Staining

Normally before they stain the floors, the person who is doing the refinishing will show you samples of different stains on the flooring. This is very important to see what the actually stain you choose looks like on the floor. After you choose a color, the stain is then applied. Keep in mind, that there are several different colors and finishes, so maybe have in mind a few that you want to look at beforehand. The stain will now dry before applying the topcoat.

TopCoating

The last step is to apply two to three coats of polyurethane over the stain. This process takes a few days in order for each coat to dry in between. It is normally applied with a finish pad or roller. There are several different finish options from matte to high gloss sheen.

Average Cost

There are several factors that play into the cost of refinishing hardwood floors. This includes size, repairs, and the moving of existing furniture or carpet. We didn’t have to remove any furniture nor did we need any repairs. Thankfully, the flip house hardwood was in great condition. We did add about 1,500 more square feet to the existing hardwood due to the addition and a room that did not have it already.

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The average cost to refinish hardwood is between $3 and $8 dollars per square foot. Again, the wide range could depend on your location and the amount of work involved. As I mentioned before, we were pretty basic and we paid a total of $8,300 to refinish the flip house hardwood. This was around $3.15 or so per square foot. We were definitely on the low end because of our location, the floors were in great shape.

Additional Costs to Consider

  • Furniture Removal: If you cannot remove furniture from the rooms, professionals may charge an additional fee for this service.
  • Repairs: Addressing issues like cracks, gaps, or replacing planks will incur extra costs.
  • Stairs: Refinishing stairs is more labor-intensive and can cost between $40 to $75 per stair.
  • Dustless Sanding: Opting for dustless sanding to minimize clean-up and dust can increase the project cost but is beneficial for maintaining a cleaner home environment during the process.

Final Thoughts

Refinishing hardwood floors is an investment in the beauty and longevity of your home. While costs can vary, understanding the factors that influence the price and planning accordingly can help ensure a successful project that enhances your home’s value and appeal. Always consult with professional refinishing services to get an accurate estimate tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

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