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How Much Does it Cost to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Adriana Aziz
August 22, 2022
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There’s no doubt about it; hardwood floors are beautiful to look at in any interior space! Along with its beauty, wooden flooring is also quite comfortable under your feet. However, while they add charm and character to the space, like all things, they can eventually wear out as well.

The minor drawback of hardwood floors is that they need to be maintained regularly for them to keep looking their best. Fortunately, all it takes is a good refinishing of the floor to restore any lost lustre. 

Types of Damage That Warrant Refinishing Hardwood Floors

man applying laquer to hard oakwood floor with a red rolling brush

Here is a quick look at some of the damage/problems that refinishing hardwood flooring can resolve:

  • Scratches & Wear: Between the daily foot traffic it bears and accidental scratches and dents, the damage to the floor becomes fairly evident. Refinishing helps undo this and return the floor to its former glory.
  • Darkening & Staining: It's impressive how much refinishing wooden flooring can do for the aesthetic of a room; a brighter hardwood floor without blemishes makes a space look larger, and more inviting.

How to Fix a Budget When Refinishing Wooden Flooring

man wearing overalls pushing an old green floor sander over a hardwood floor in an empty room

Now, before we jump into the process and learn how much it will cost to refinish hardwood flooring, you need to be aware of what you are working with in order to get the best value for your money and effort.

Take a look at the two major factors that affect costing to ensure that you are staying within your budget, yet not compromising on quality.

Type of Wood

Since there's several different types of wood you can use for flooring, the cost will vary based on this. Tougher wood like Maple and Oak may require more effort to sand than softer types like Cypress.

Type of Finish

The type of finish applied to the floor will affect the costing as well. Knowing the type of finish you're looking for helps you estimate the cost better.

Here are some common types of hardwood floor finishes to consider:

Solvent-based Polyurethane

 The more expensive option, this coat is arguably the most durable due to its resistance to scratches and stains. You can expect it to last for up to 10 to 15 years.

Water-based Polyurethane

This coat will not release toxic fumes into the air, nor will it leave an odour. While it isn't the most durable, you can still expect a good 7 to 8 years without needing to refinish it.

Oil-based Varnishes

Oils maintain a more rustic, traditional look for wood finish. Being relatively inexpensive, they can get the job done cheaper, albeit lasting a lot less longer than the synthetic alternatives. You would probably need to refinish your hardwood every 2-4 years when using oil-based varnishes.

The Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors

man wearing white rubber gloves using a cloth to relaquer hardwood flooring

To have a clear idea of how much it costs to refinish hardwood floors, you first need to understand the process, materials, and equipment required for the job. This holds true regardless of whether you are attempting to refinish the floor yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you. 

DIY Cost & Process to Refinish Wooden Flooring

If you're one to do your own renovations and don't mind getting your hands dirty, you could sand, restore, and polish the floor yourself, albeit with a fair amount of effort.

Keep in mind that this process isn't as easy as it may seem; sanding down hard to reach places and baseboards is a lot more difficult than it appears. The removal of furniture and covering everything else before sanding also requires a lot of manual labour. The sawdust builds up fast during sanding and so vacuuming between rounds is essential. 

Bear in mind that the floor should have a very smooth finish after the sanding; something that many individuals find hard to achieve. If you require staining or dyeing of the wood, it takes some skill to dye the wood without leaving streaks or blots. Professional help is generally recommended with projects like this since you have dedicated tradies who are trained for this.

With that said, you will need to rent an industrial drum sander to get the sanding done. This should cost you roughly about $60 a day. Along with that, whatever dyes or finish you purchase, could cost you anywhere between $15 to $25 a square meter, depending on the need and the types you purchase.

Steps to Refinish Hardwood Floors

  • Begin by preparing the area. Remove all furniture, cover everything that can catch the sawdust, and look to make sure that the space is closed off while sanding. 
  • Test the sander in an inconspicuous place first so that you know what you're working with. Start at a coarse grit of about 20-60, and work your way into the finer grits like 120 as you progress. Keep vacuuming the sawdust between rounds of sanding. 
  • Once you've sanded down the blemishes and imperfections, vacuum one last time, and wipe down the area so that no dirt and dust is left behind.
  • Now, open the space up so there is enough ventilation for the finish to dry, and for you to work. 
  • To apply the finish, follow the instructions mentioned on the label of the tin as the application process may vary from one type to another. There are many different floor finish applicators that can be used for the job, however, we advise sticking to the tool recommended for the type of finish you are using. Lastly, ensure that the first coat cures well before applying the final coat for drying.

Cost of Hiring a Professional to Refinish Hardwood Flooring

If you've decided to work with a professional service, you will likely get better results than if you were to do it yourself, provided that you have enlisted the help of an experienced company or contractor.

With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when hiring any professional service:

  • Since there are no specific qualifications required for finishing and polishing services, it's advisable to look into reviews or ask for references from previous clients
  • Make sure you ask for before and after images of any previous projects they've worked on 
  • Always get multiple cost estimates from different companies/contractors so that you can find better value for your money

Overall Costing

Depending on the provider of the service, where you live, and what floor and finish you are working with, the cost will vary. 

Remember that many professionals will provide separate quotes for sanding and varnishing, so it's a good idea to clarify these costs during the initial discussion. 

Sanding, depending on the type of wood, can cost you anywhere between $10 to $25 per square metre. Some harder woods require more effort to sand down and therefore, incur higher rates.

The finish itself can cost you approximately $15 to $30 a square metre based on whether dye is needed, and the type of finish it is.

With that in mind, you could expect an entire refinishing job, to cost somewhere between $25 to about $60 a square metre, inclusive of labour. Of course, the cheaper end of the spectrum here is based on things like the wood being easier to sand down, use of oils for the finish, discounted rates from the provider, etc. 

Whatever you decide to go with, keep in mind that refinishing your hardwood floors every few years or, as and when needed, is imperative to maintaining the floor's longevity, and its aesthetic appeal, too! 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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