What is the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

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Oct 2, 2022

Every home is different, but one thing every house has in common – whether it’s a three-bedroom craftsman, a sprawling ranch or a small condo – is flooring.

Of course, floors don’t always get a lot of credit when people are considering their favorite styles of architecture, but there’s no escaping that they play one of the most prominent roles in any house. They’re literally in every single room.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many homeowners eventually consider how to spruce theirs up a bit. Refinishing hardwood flooring is a popular consideration, especially when the owner is thinking about selling soon.

What is the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

The price per square foot can vary based on several factors. Use this guide as a measure of what we see nationally in terms of sanding and staining costs:

Average cost to sand red oak, white oak or pine flooring that is in “good” or “average” condition:

  • Low end: $2.00/square foot; High end: $5.00/square foot

Average cost to stain and apply polyurethane to red oak, white oak or pine flooring that is in “good” or “average” condition:

  • Low end: $1.50/square foot; High end: $3.50/square foot

Average combined cost to sand, stain (plus 1 coat of polyurethane finish):

  • $4.50/square foot

DIY: Refinishing hardwood floors yourself

If you’re considering refinish flooring but are worried about the labor costs associated with hiring a flooring company, you may consider tackling the project yourself. Here are the steps to get started, plus a full guide to refinishing your floors:

  • Go to Home Depot or Lowes and rent a commercial drum sander for about $65 to $120 a day. You’ll also have to purchase sanding paper in varying grits. For example, you will need to start with a low grit paper (e.g. 60) and then finish with a fine grit paper (e.g. 180).
  • Purchase stain and topcoat finish (polyurethane).
  • You will also need an edger, which is a smaller, hand-held sanding machine. This helps with corners and tight places in a room. Here’s our recommendation: Black & Decker Detail Sander

Keep in mind, approaching this type of project will not be easy! We recommend watching several YouTube videos before deciding to go this route. Refinishing hardwood floors can a lengthy process when you consider moving furniture, prepping the floors, dealing with all the dust and learning how to use the sanding equipment.

Factors to Consider When Refinishing Hardwood Floors

With that being said, don’t rush into refinishing hardwood floors. Even though they’ll improve your home in more than one way, it’s still a big decision.

To make sure it’s the right one, consider these three factors before proceeding.

1. Not all hardwood floors are the same

Condition, location and type of flooring will dictate the cost of sanding and staining. If you’re refinishing a symmetrical (square or rectangular) area or room with no stairs or difficult nooks, the cost per square foot could be quite affordable.

However, if you are refinishing floors in a multi-level townhome or in a property that has small closets and laundry areas that need to be refinished, the cost could increase drastically.

If the condition of the subfloors is also bad, and require replacement, then the project cost could increase substantially.

2. Other home updates may be wiser investment

A report from the National Association of Realtors concluded that, while refinishing hardwood floors are almost always a valuable addition to any home, there are several other projects that tend to add more to a home’s value.

For example, in terms of both “appeal to buyers” and “likely value to home for resale”, the top three projects were:

  • Kitchen renovation
  • New roof
  • Bathroom renovation

In terms of projects that are likely to be more valuable if you sell, adding a new bathroom or master suite also beat out “new wood flooring.”

3. The ROI or refinishing hardwood floors

It’s extremely important that you consider the return-on-investment (ROI) of any home renovation, especially refinishing hardwood floors. As we’ve already touched on, installing new hardwood floors could increase your asking price by as much as 5-8%. But how about refinishing existing hardwoods?

Luckily the cost of sanding and staining is a fraction of the cost of installing new flooring. And the good news is that generally the ROI is higher as well. Based on our research, you can expect a return of about 30-70% when investing in refinishing. For example, if you spend $5,000 refinishing your floors, you may see a property value increase of up to $8,500 (70% ROI).

Is Refinishing Hardwood Floors Worth It?

The national average cost to refinish hardwood floors is about $4.50 per square foot. Depending on how many square feet you intend to cover, the average time investment is about 4-5 days for sanding, staining and two coats of polyurethane or equivalent topcoat.

Every year, thousands of homeowners make the investment and most are happy with the results. A survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 73% of Americans that refinished their flooring in 2019 would do it again if given the choice.

Speak to a Real Estate Agent About Improving Your Home’s Value

Few would argue that newly refinished hardwood floors don’t look incredible.

Most would also agree that there’s a certain allure to them, as well. Most homebuyers associate hardwood floors with greater value, compared to LVP (luxury vinyl planks) flooring for example.

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, it makes sense that you’d consider spending some money to increase its price. Contact us to learn more about selling your home.

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