Refinishing Hardwood Floors - is this a DIY or Professional job?

Hi -
I just closed on a 1940’s house in downtown Austin. Although my initial intent was to hold and rent, I will probably have to flip it. I just got an estimate of $6,500 to replace damaged planks and refinish the entire house (appx. 900 sf). I consider myself to be pretty handy, but have never done hardwoods before. For $6k, I’m tempted to try, but don’t want to make a bigger mess! Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Just put in laminate and call it a day.

If my math is right, you could cover every floor in the house, including the kitchen and bath, with $60/yard carpeting for the bid you got refinishing/repairing the wood.

Don’t put that kind of money into a 900 sqft flip.

Javipa is SPOT ON!!

I just finished a 2,000 sq ft house with carpet and $32 per lineal foot vinyl (Lowe’s new market stuff that looks exactly like laminate) for less than what you are being quoted.

One other thing…hardwood floors can ONLY be sanded and refinished so many times and you hit the groves and mortices and it is over.

Do like Javipa says…go for carpet and laminate or vinyl.

Thank you for the suggestion of laminate/carpet. You don’t think it will reduce the sale value?

There’s a guy at my local Lowe’s store that does floor sanding on the side. We’ve used him for several of our rentals. He usually charges about $1 per square foot to sand, stain, and seal the floors. Some turn out better than others. Some of them have been amazing. I’m not sure how many planks they’re talking about replacing, but that quote sounds really really high. I love refinishing the old floors because I generally only have to put on a coat of urethane if they look a little worn after tenants move out.

I’ve done it myself once and it was more time and work that what it was worth. I used an oscillating floor sander rented from Home Depot rather than a drum sander since it was my first time and I didn’t want to gauge the floors. Took a full day to sand 100 sq ft, another day to stain, a half third day for the first coat of finish, and a half fourth day to lightly sand and apply the 2nd coat. It came out beautiful but as I mentioned, it was a lot of work. If you can find a guy for $1 a sq ft that would be the route I’d take.

Thanks jmd_forest - that’s what I thought…I think I’ve decided to leave the floors alone in the bedrooms and hall - they are in pretty good shape. Patch a small area in the dining room - and carpet the family room - where the floors are trashed. As much as I would like to learn a new skill, I may leave the dining room to a professional!

If you are going to flip it do quick change and put new carpet. If you were going to rent it I would refinish the floor. The bid was way to high. From my experiences the carpet and the laminate will not last more than 4 years, renters a tuff on housing. My first rental I installed a staple in engineered hardwood and last year I just put my first coat of varithane on it. I have another house with carpet and that looks like it should be replaced after 3 years.


If your going to flip it, install a floating laminate floor yourself. it will take two days and That way you keep with the current style of the house. If your going to rent you can either refinish the current yourself(labor intensive) or there is a newer product out is vinyl flooring that is patterned after wood planks and installs just like wood flooring. Again you can install this product yourself it goes for $1.50 to $4. a foot if you opt for the higher quality there is usually a lifetime warranty on the product so if a tenant happens to damage any part of te flooring then you just pull up the damaged section send it back get a replacement. I always keep extra on hand so when I pull it up I drop in the extra stuff while waiting for the manufacturer to send me the replacement vinyl. It can be found at lowes and home depot. I use this product on my rentals for owners that want the look of rich wood flooring but want it to wear like a tile floor. Bottom line if your handy a bid of $6500 is way to high do it yourself.

Cliff :beer

Hardwood floors in bedrooms do nothing to increase the resale value. Carpet the bedrooms and refinish the living room and hallway. New installation should be $7/sq ft or so and a refinish should be $2.50 or so per square foot.

Sanding and staining are not hard. But it would be very helpful if you have a friend that has done this before. You can sand the floors in one day with a drum sander and edger from HD. Replacing the damaged boards may be tricky.