How much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors? The question mainly depends on whether you will do it yourself or get someone else to do it. Like with every other home improvement, the cost consists of three parts: labor, materials, and tools. Another factor to consider – the square footage of your floor. The short answer to this question is:
|The cost to refinish hardwood floors (DIY option)||300 sq. ft||$250|
|The cost to refinish hardwood floors (hiring a professional)||300 sq. ft||$900 – $1500|
However, we encourage you to read further, as the price may not be the most crucial factor while choosing to DIY or hire professionals.
Maintenance is one of the most important things when it comes to hardwood floors. Wood is an organic material, and it will wear out sooner or later, inevitably. Refinishing will restore the beauty of your floors and will prolong their life. It is an easy process that you can do yourself, and it costs almost nothing.
But Where do you begin? What tools and materials will you need? When does it make sense to renew your floors completely, and when you should call a professional? Let’s take a more in-depth look at the refinishing of hardwood floors.
Refinish or Restore?
So your hardwood floor is wearing out, and you’ve decided to refinish them. But before moving any further, it’s crucial to know the difference between refinishing and restoring. Both are similar, but when you restore hardwood floors, the whole finish remains unchanged. When restoring, you only fill in the micro-scratches and match floors’ overall appearance. Meanwhile, refinishing hardwood floors mean that you entirely remove the old finish and apply a new one.
When choosing between these two options, inspect the condition of your hardwood floors. If there are a lot of worn patches, you will probably need to refinish the floor completely. But there’s no need to apply a new finish on the whole floor if there are only a few wear marks. Think of restoration as a ‘shrunk refinish.’ You use the same technique, but instead of refinishing the whole floor, you only restore a small patch.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors (the DIY option)
If your option is DIY, then it’s obvious we can skip the labor factor and get straight to the part of materials and tools.
Let’s take a look at the tools you will need to refinish hardwood floors and their prices:
- 16″ Floor Buffer Rental – $45 for 24 hours;
- 16″ Thin Maroon Buffer Pad – $8.50 apiece (you will need more than one);
- Microfiber Floor Hardwood Mop – $24.99;
- Respirator – $20.52;
- A 3-inch paintbrush – $5;
- Paint roller with an extension -$22.49;
- Dust vacuum rental – $45 a day.
Assuming that you will finish the job in 24 hours, the total cost of tools is $200.
You will also need a protective finish for your hardwood floors. There are several most popular choices, and the prices vary:
- Water-Based Polyurethane – $50 per gallon;
- Oil-Based Polyurethane – $40 per gallon;
- Wax – $20 per gallon.
Let’s assume that you will use a water-based polyurethane finish for $50. With one gallon, you will cover about 300 sq. ft and apply two coats.
So, the cost to refinish 300 sq. ft of hardwood floors will cost you around $250.
Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors (hiring a professional)
Although you might think that the cost of materials and tools are the same here, that’s not entirely true. Professional contractors can get materials at better prices, as they are buying in bulk. Also, they already have their equipment, so they don’t need to rent it.
But of course, the largest part of the cost is labor. We’ve checked five different contractors, and the average price per square foot varies between $3 to 6$. So, a 300 sq. ft area would cost between $900 – $1800. Keep in mind that this is approximate because there are factors that may increase the final cost of refinishing hardwood floors. Let’s take a closer look at what those factors are.
Factors that Affect the Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors
If your floors only need a new finish, there’s a chance your project might fall into the $3 – 6$ category. But several factors impact the final cost of refinishing. These include:
- The square footage. Usually, the price per sq. ft drops depending on the size of the project. The smaller the area, the higher the price per sq. ft, and vice versa. So, if you need to refinish only 300 sq. ft of hardwood floors, maybe it would make sense to DIY.
- The type of finish. As we have already mentioned, the prices of different hardwood floor finishes vary. So, the total cost may change accordingly to the type of finish you choose.
- The number of coats applied. The durability of the finish will also depend on the number of coats. The more coats, the more durable and long-lasting your hardwood floors will be.
- Type of wood. Some hardwood floors may require more buffing than others.
- Stairs. If you want to refinish them too – it’s an additional $40 to $75 per stair tread.
- Extra work like moving furniture or removing carpet – may also impact the final cost.
Pros and Cons of Refinishing Hardwood Floors Yourself
DIY may sound like an excellent choice in terms of money but might not give you the best result. As you earn your living from whatever it is that you’re doing, the contractors do the same by building, renovating, etc. They are doing it every day, so they know every aspect and detail about their job. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of refinishing hardwood floors yourself.
Price. At first sight, the DIY option does look way cheaper than hiring a professional. A proper finish lasts for 7 to 10 years. But if done wrong, you might need to redo it within 2 to 4 years.
Sense Of Achievement. It’s a great thing to know that you did it yourself. You will learn something new will feel proud of yourself. Also, the skills you’ll acquire in the process will come in handy in the future.
It will require your time. As with anything else you do, hardwood floor refinishing will require your time – lots of it, to be more precise. You will need to go to the rental shop and bring all the tools. Next, you will need to spend some time picking the finish. The prep will also require your time – move furniture, remove old carpet, clean the floors, etc. After that comes the major part of the work: removing the old finish, vacuuming the dust, and applying several stain layers. And the worst part is that it is impossible to tell precisely how much time it will take. An experienced contractor might complete the same job two or three times quicker than you.
The result might not be what you’ve expected. If you’re doing this for the first time, you will make mistakes. For example, you might not remove the old finish properly – therefore, the stain will not penetrate evenly. You might also hire the wrong equipment and waste your time, or, even worse, damage the hardwood floors.
The finish might not last long enough. As you are doing this for the first time, you might apply too much or too little stain. Therefore, the finish might not last as long as you’d expected, and you will need to redo it after two or three years.
If you have asthma – it’s not for you. For those who are allergic to dust or have asthma, the DIY is not an option. Even though the dusting machines have vacuums that suck up the biggest particles, there are still lots of unfiltered dust.
Although there are more cons to the DIY option, don’t limit yourself to the other one. Refinishing hardwood floors is not rocket science – so you can give it a try. If you need to refinish a small area, then the DIY option might be the most logical choice. But if there are lots of rooms that need a refinish, your best option might be to call a professional.