Hardwood Floor Refinishing Cost

How much does it cost cost to refinish hardwood floor?

Whether it's red oak, pecan, walnut, cherry a rich gleaming hardwood floor is hard not to love. It is hands down the most stunning flooring available, not to mention durable, healthy and long living. But like any natural material it needs periodic maintenance beyond vacuuming and cleaning. Hardwood floors will remain beautiful for about 20 years before it will begin to look dull, discolored, and scratched and will need to be refinished. Scratches and the old finish will be sanded out and the floors will be refinished to a like new condition. Never try to do this yourself. Always hire a seasoned professional to sand and refinish your precious hardwood floors. Accordingly, a well care for hardwood floor lifetime is roughly about 120 to 160 years. There's no other flooring-apart from stone-that will serve you this well or this beautifully.

Living rooms and kitchens get the most use. Living rooms usually cost most because they tend to be the largest room in the home and the cost is calculated by square foot. Let's consider an 18'x20' or 360 sq.ft. living room and a 12'x12' or 144 sq.ft. kitchen and a 12 stair staircase.

We are looking at the costs of refinishing of two rooms of hardwood floors that have seen better days and a staircase.

Cost breakdown


  • Many floors simply need to be sanded 1 in preparation for the finish.
  • Sanding 1 costs are generally around $1.80 per square foot according to the RSMeans Contractor's Pricing Guide.
  • Some newer wood floors with very little wear will not need sanding 1.
  • Often the refinisher will need to uncover the hardwood floor first. Hardwood floors are often found under carpet, or several decades of old linoleum 2 and tile.
  • Carpet Removal and Disposal is generally around $1.00 per sq.ft.
  • Taking up other flooring is about $1.46 per sq.ft. according to RSMeans.
  • Hardwood in the kitchen often becomes water damaged without the proper sealer/finish and needs to be replaced. This may be only a few boards or several. If it's a 1'x3' area, for example, it would add around $50 or $6.85 per sq.ft. according to RSMeans.
  • $648 for a 360 sq.ft. living room or $250 for a 144 sq.ft. kitchen for an average job.
  • If carpet has to be taken up and disposed of the prep work for the living room would increase to $1000.
  • If the kitchen needs old flooring removed and sanding 1 the prep work would cost around $210.
  • If a lot of wax needs to be scraped $575 would be added.

Refinish: Once the floor has been prepped and is clean, sanded 1 smooth, and ready for the finish the refinisher will stain the wood and apply two or three coats of sealer to protect and add shine.

  • Cost of staining is about $1.49 per sq.ft.
  • $535 for a 360 sq.ft. living room.
  • $215 for a 144 sq.ft. kitchen.
  • The oil finish is $1.81 per sq.ft.
  • $650 for a 360 sq.ft. living room.
  • $260 for a 144 sq.ft. kitchen.

Stairs: The stairs have 12 steps (treads) and the cost of sanding and finishing combined is $45 per tread for a total of $540.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • Some enhacement include designer effects like:
  • Wire brushing which creates a distressed or textured look, this would cost $3-$5 per sq.ft.
  • Or custom finishing techniques such as fuming (a chemical that turns the wood gray for a natural aged look), smoking (ages the wood for a rustic look), these would cost around $1 ​more per sq.ft.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Bedrooms are around 129 sq.ft. in general and would cost about $610.
  • Staircases that have oversized treads, a lot of pie-shaped treads or are circular in style would cost more based on he extra hours worked and material. If baseboards, vents, or thresholds need to be replaced it would also cost more.
  • To keep refinishing costs down it's advisable to remove old carpeting and other flooring that is covering your hardwood floors yourself before you hire a professional to refinish your floors. Carpeting, pads 3, and sheet flooring can be removed quite easily, while tile is a more labor intensive.
  • Since sanding 1 is necessary and sanding 1 removes a small amount of your wood depending on how deep scratches are, it can only be done six to eight times in the lifetime of your hardwood floor.
  • If the hardwood has been painted in the past -this was often done- the old paint must be stripped. This process begins at $2.00 per sq.ft.
  • If the hardwood has a lot of old wax that must be scraped this will bring the prep cost up about $4.00 per sq.ft.
  • Refinishing is a messy job. If you have a very busy household you might want to take a short vacation during this time.
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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Sanded: Process of removing the top surface of a material, such as wood, using sandpaper and/or a specialized sanding machine (for large surface areas)
2 Linoleum: An inexpensive flooring material made from linseed oil, resins, recycled wood flour, cork dust, limestone and mineral pigments, on a canvas or jute backing.
3 Pads: A cushion placed under a carpet to absorb impact, thus extending the life of the carpet

Cost cost to refinish hardwood floor varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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Salinas, CA
San Antonio, TX
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Smyrna, GA
Southbury, CT
Suffern, NY
Texarkana, TX
Tulsa, OK
Verbena, AL
Warren, MI

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