What is the Cost of Hardwood Floor Refinishing (and why are contractor’s prices so different)?

Are you confused about hardwood refinishing contractor pricing? Simply put, there are a lot of reasons why some contractors charge less and others charge more, but most of it has to do with completely distinct services that may be recommended for a floor in some circumstances, but not in others. Here are few examples:

  • Screen and Finish – This is a simple one day process that consists of lightly scoring the surface of existing finish and applying a new top-coat or two. Screen and Finish should only be completed if the existing finish is fully intact and only shows minimal wear. It is really something that should be viewed as long-term care of a floor’s finish and is not a substitute for full refinishing. Usually you can expect to pay between $1.25 and $2.00 per square foot for this simple service.
  • Dustless Wet Sanding – This is another long-term maintenance process that uses solvents to deep clean and chemically abrade the existing finish in preparation for a new topcoat. You can expect to pay around $1.00 per SF.
  • Full Refinishing – This is a multi-day process that involves completely removing the existing finish and applying three new coats of polyurethane finish. Generally you can expect to pay between $2.70 and $4.00 per or even $5.00 per SF depending upon the severity of the floor’s condition and the complexity of the floor’s shape.

If a floor has significant scratches, exposed wood,  or questionable care, the only remedy is a full refinishing that fully removes the existing finish down to the wood. Too often inexperienced refinishers misjudge a floor’s condition and claim that a screen and finish treatment is all that is necessary to restore the finish. However, these methods will only provide a short-lived improvement in appearance and nave even cause the new finish to flake off.  Screen and finish treatment or wet-sanding is aggressively pushed by some contractors because its low cost makes an attractive sell and possibly also because the contractor or crew may not possess the skill to carefully sand a floor without leaving ghastly roller marks.

Still, even for a a full refinishing service there are operators  that charge bargain basement price prices for a full refinishing  but provide inferior work quality. These turn and burn operations are only interested in getting in and out of a job as quickly as possible.

Your best bet is to be proactive spend a few minutes reading online to educate yourself about the process and when or why refinishing is needed. In this way you can be more aware of whether a full refinishing is needed and proceed with estimates in a more informed and confident manner. Finally, choose a contractor with proven quality, references, and experience.

Leave a Reply