Just How Much Will it Cost to Refinish my Hardwood Floors?
Trying to determine the cost to refinish hardwood floors can often feel like a guessing game. And while it’s no secret that refinishing your hardwood floor has a substantial impact on the look, feel and energy of your home, identifying and planning for the cost of the process can be far from easy.
Truth is, there’s no real, definitive answer to give when clients ask us how much it’ll cost to refinish their floors. There are many variables that go into the cost of refinishing hardwood floors. And for that reason, prices can range from $1.50 per square foot to $10 a square foot. While some variables depend on fixed circumstances (i.e. where you live) others are unique to you and your needs. To help aid in estimating what your refinishing project might end up costing, our experts at Patrick Daigle Hardwood Flooring have broken down a list of the major variables.
The first, and most obvious, variable that comes into play is the square footage you’re looking to refinish. Do you only have two rooms with hardwood flooring in your home or are you working with two entire storeys of hardwood? It’s also important to note that when undertaking this home improvement job in particular, going full force ahead and refinishing all of your hardwood flooring in your home is highly suggested. Not only will it likely result in a better rate, but there will be more consistency in the look of your home. It also avoids unattractive lines between rooms clearly demarcating where you’ve done the work and where you’ve haven’t. Only refinishing part of your home will temporarily save some money, but in the long term you actually might spend more splitting it into separate jobs. Regardless of exactly how many square feet you’re looking to refinish, you should expect a flat fee to be calculated into your rate. This fee will cover the cost of set up, the equipment and transportation. Because it is more efficient and cost effective for the pros to set up once for a larger space than multiple times for smaller spaces, the more square footage you have, the better your price will often be.
Knowing exactly what type of result you’re looking for will also help determine the cost of the job. This is determined by both the current condition of your flooring and the desired final look. For more worn floors, you’ll likely need to sand the space prior to applying the coats of finish. Sanding is necessary to get out deeper damages and scratches that have surpassed the superficial layer of finish and reached the actual hardwood. It requires more labor and additional machinery which will increase your overall cost. For less worn floors, you can sometimes get away with not sanding and merely applying a few coats of finish. Similar to the condition of your hardwood, whether or not you are adding a stain to your flooring makes a large impact in your overall cost as well. If you’re looking to do so, staining can add somewhere between an extra $0.50 to $1 per square foot. The staining would take place after any potential sanding and before any polyurethane or commercial clear coat is applied. Typically staining will add another day to the project which also contributes to it being a more expensive choice. Darker stains might require extra sanding or other prep that other stains might not need. The complete cost impact for both staining and sanding are dependent on the square footage, which in the case of larger spaces actually has the potential to help you get a better ‘deal’.
Other than labor, the type and amount of product necessary for refinishing has a significant impact on the overall cost to refinish hardwood floors. There are a few things that impact what type of finish you can use including the type of wood and your budget. Generally, oil based polyurethane is suggested for hardwood. It’s less expensive and more durable than water based poly. The main exception to this rule would be for whitewashed or grey flooring. In these cases, water based finish is a must. Water based finish is more expensive, but actually takes less time than oil based poly. (For a more in-depth comparison of the two, check out our previous blog on the subject!) Either type of finish will also likely be less expensive in a larger quantity — another way more square footage can work to your advantage. On the lower end of the budget, given costs of products, you’re likely to be able to get a two coat deal — commercial based clear coat and oil based polyurethane — for $1.50 a square foot. This deal is what we suggest when refinishing your flooring to sell your home (check out our previous blog for more on selling your home!), or for rooms with minimal traffic. Two plus coats of commercial clear coat and polyurethane is standard, but depending on consistency of wear, we might suggest more coats to properly protect your flooring. Of course, as you add more coats of the poly, the cost will increase. But more coats means more durability, which in turn means less frequent future refinishing. Added cost up front can definitely save you money in the future.
It’s also worth noting the other indirect expenses that are added to the direct cost to refinish hardwood floors. Given the refinishing process requires minimal walking and disturbance of the flooring until it’s finished, you will need to plan for where you can stay during the process. Additionally, if you are particularly sensitive to smell you might want to be out of your home for a little longer than the actual refinishing will take as polyurethane can be a strong scent. Refinishing the flooring also requires furniture to be moved which isn’t necessarily something your contractors will do for you. Consider asking up front if that labor is something they offer and how that will affect your estimate. If not, be ready to tackle it yourself or to hire movers to do this for you. Being prepared for these extra costs will ultimately make your refinishing experience much more positive and stress free!
As a general rule, experts suggest refinishing your hardwood every 10 years max — every 5 if they get lots of wear. And if you’ve found yourself at that point of refinishing, it’s understandable to be concerned about determining exactly how much it’ll cost you. While you can estimate the cost to refinish hardwood floors partially based on square footage alone, the variables above — potential sanding and staining, and products used — will all have a significant effect on the cost. If you’re in the greater Connecticut area, don’t hesitate to give us a call for all your hardwood needs! Our expert contractors here at Patrick Daigle Hardwood Flooring will have your floors looking as good as new in no time!