House renovation projects often involve a flooring redo. When it comes to hardwood floors, you have two options.
- Refinish the hardwood floor
- Replace it with laminate or install new hardwood flooring.
The most important factor while making this decision is the cost. Hence, it is important to consider the cost of both options; refinishing or installing new floors.
In this article, we will answer a common question asked by thousands of homeowners; is it cheaper to refinish hardwood floors or replace them with laminate? It is important to consider the cost of both options, so you know how much you will be paying and which option is better for your home in the long run.
Is it Cheaper to Refinish Hardwood Floors or Replace them with Laminate?
The Simple Answer: It is cheaper to refinish hardwood floors than replace them with laminate or install a new hardwood floor.
Cost of Refinishing Hardwood Floors vs. New Floors
Refinishing Hardwood Floors
The average refinishing cost per square foot of hardwood floor is $3 – $8. For a room size of 10 by 15 (150 square feet), the refinishing cost will be between $450 and $1,200 for refinishing one room. Similarly, the refinishing cost for 1000 square feet of hardwood floor will be $3000 – $8000. The price can vary $500 – $1000 depending on factors like home size, work location, labor costs, quality and quantity of materials, preparation, sanding, staining, and coating/finishing.
The price also varies slightly depending on the hardwood floor installed in your home. Other factors like damaged pieces, contractor charges, preparation work, and post-cleanup charges also impact the final cost.
DIY refinishing or hiring a contractor can hugely impact the final cost. Labor costs make up the biggest part of refinishing costs. You can take out these costs if you go for a DIY refinishing. However, you will need to rent out a sanding machine and arrange for a long list of supplies. Moreover, refinishing the hardwood floor is intensive and requires time and energy.
DIY refinishing involves the risk factor of sanding or staining mistakes. These mistakes can be pretty expensive and usually occur when you don’t have any knowledge of the work, often leading to floor replacement.
On the contrary, hiring a contractor is costly but brings peace of mind. You don’t have to do anything. When hiring a contractor, you can cut some costs by taking care of prep work like carpet removal, moving furniture, and post-refinishing cleanup.
Replacing with Laminate: The national average cost to install laminate flooring in a 150 square feet room is between $800 and $1450. The price includes all the costs like labor costs, material, installation, and removal of old floors. The differences are substantial if you compare the price for refinishing hardwood floors, which are $3 to $8 per square foot. You will be paying $450 to $1200 for refinishing hardwood floors.
You will save around $250 in refinishing one room if you go for a high-end job. The savings will be more if you prefer a low-end job. Calculate these savings over 1000 square feet area, and you can save up to a thousand bucks.
Installing new Hardwood Floors: The cost of installing a new hardwood floor is $8 -$14 per foot. For a room of 150 square feet, installing new floors costs $1200 to $2100. On the contrary, refinishing costs $450 to $1200. You could save up to 50% if you chose to refinish over installing a new hardwood floor.
Which is more durable: laminate flooring or hardwood flooring?
Laminate flooring is cheap, but hardwood flooring is more durable. It can be easily refinished and restored to its original life. Laminate floors can be repainted, but they don’t show satisfactory results like hardwood floors. Go for hardwood floors if you want durability, a natural look, and high resale value for your property. Overall, it all depends on your budget and preferences.
When refinishing hardwood floor isn’t an option?
Hardwood floors last for around 8-10 years on average. The recommended time for refinishing is after 7 years of installation, and a hardwood floor can be refinished 3-4 times. However, there are times when refinishing isn’t an option. If water damage has caused serious damage to hardwood’s structural integrity and the subfloor beneath, previous refinishing has made the floor too thin to support another round of refinishing, or you are looking to upgrade your property.
Refinishing hardwood is a better option in terms of cost-saving, outlook, and value. Laminate floors look cheap and don’t have the durability, and reliability of hardwood. The theoretical life of a hardwood floor is 10-12 years. If you take good care of hardwood floors, they can easily last up to 100 years, whereas laminate floors only last up to 15 years with proper attention and care.