How Much Does It Cost to Refinish Hardwood Flooring?

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We just finished up the flip house we have been working on for the past year. 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.

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.



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 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.


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 stain.


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.


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.

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