Is It Cheaper To Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Carpet?

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.!
Sharing Is Caring!

When it is time to refinish hardwood floors, many homeowners try to think of other ways to get the job done as refinishing seems like an expensive task.

A common example is carpeting the floors so the existing hardwood floors will not bear as much damage from that time onwards and as carpets are considered cheaper, a lot of money can be saved on the project by choosing carpeting over refinishing.

However, flooring experts do not support this view and claim that hardwood floors are cheaper to refinish than carpet. So, who is in the right?

To make the point clear, the immediate expense of installation of carpets is much lower than the hardwood floor refinishing cost but the additional expenditures involved make the refinishing process much cheaper as compared to carpeting the floors.

Whenever you are thinking of getting hardwood floors refinished, it is not a one-time decision but is something long-term which will keep supporting you for a considerable time.

However, carpets are not a reliable option as they do not have much durability and last only a few years.
Besides, if they are placed in a commercial environment or somewhere with high traffic, they are sure to get worn out quickly.

Which is Cheaper Refinishing Hardwood Floors or Carpet

However, there are still many perks of carpets and situations where they might be suitable and a lot of detailed factors upon why it is cheaper to refinish hardwood floors over carpeting them.

So, make sure you read the article till the end to get all the necessary information to make a well-versed and comprehensive decision.

What Is Floor Carpeting?

Floor carpeting refers to installing carpets on existing floors for added comfort, design, and other features. Carpets can be installed over any surface, such as hardwood, vinyl, laminate, concrete, and much more.

What Is Floor Carpeting

Carpeting floors is an affordable and smart way of adding a flooring appearance to your house without installing flooring.

Many homeowners who can’t afford expensive flooring types, such as hardwood, tend to get much cheaper flooring and place carpets on top to get the luxurious textures and designs they always wanted for their floors.

Besides, carpeting is often preferred over refinishing hardwood floors due to its high cost.

Many homeowners who think refinishing hardwood floors is too much of a task and not affordable at the moment will turn to carpeting the floors so that the floors underneath are not damaged further and the house has a homely touch.

What Is Hardwood Floor Refinishing?

Refinishing hardwood floors is a basic cosmetic procedure to renew the finish of your floorings. It does not involve any structural changes and is only a simple procedure.

Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Simply put, you can call it a facelift to your existing hardwood floors. Refinishing involves the removal of the existing varnish, seal, and stain, as the surface of the wood needs to be exposed for further proceedings.

This is followed by sanding the entire floor using sandpaper or sanding machines, which grind down the surface of the wooden planks to make them smooth even after the damage they have retained.

This also exposes the wood and makes the natural grain appear fuller. Once this is completed, a cleaning session removes all the sawdust and shavings from the floor, and the surface is cleaned spotlessly.

In addition, the floor is now coated with a fresh stain which can be of a different color to change the look.

Finally, the floor is sealed using a varnish or a sealant to add additional protection and save the wood from any unwanted damage.

As this procedure is fairly superficial and does not require any boards to be stripped off or changes in the structure or the subflooring, it can also be applied to many other types of floorings.

You can’t possibly refinish the floors multiple times without repercussions; while the hardwood floors can be refinished 6-7 times, engineered hardwood does not share the same capacity and can only be refinished 2-3 times before it becomes too weak and thin.

Is It Cheaper To Refinish Hardwood Floors Or Carpet?

It is certainly cheaper to get hardwood floors refinished rather than to get them carpeted. While many homeowners might get offended and want to argue, hear this out.

Hardwood floors’ installation and material costs are much more expensive than carpets. However, they do not require as frequent replacements or maintenance as carpets do.

This makes them much more affordable for a longer time and proves them as a sustainable option.

It is Cheaper To Refinish Hardwood Floors vs Carpet

If you still need help understanding the point, look at the detailed comparison below so you can comprehend the point better.

Resale Value

Considering the resale value of an item or the amount of value it adds to your property is crucial when deciding over hardwood vs carpeted floors.

It is a unanimous fact that hardwood floors offer more resale value than carpets and add more appeal to the house for potential buyers.

Resale Value: Hardwood Floor vs Carpet

It is proven by many studies in the US that people will readily pay a higher sum of money for a house with hardwood floorings as compared to one with carpeted floors.

Besides, many people start their house hunt from the point that they want to see houses with hardwood floors installed in them.

In addition, as we will discuss later, hardwood floors have far higher longevity than carpets, making them a suitable investment if you are planning to wait to sell the house.

However, if you are someone who likes to flip properties and it is time to refinish the hardwood floors, you can also compare the cost of getting new engineered hardwood floors installed, which will cost you a lot less than carpeting the existing floors.

Overall, hardwood floors are a far better investment for a long-term opportunity, and if you are looking forward to adding more texture and taste to your property to increase its worth, it would be most suitable to refinish your hardwood floors than getting them carpeted.


If you have hardwood floors in the house requiring a new finish, you might be thinking of alternatives so you don’t have to keep up with the maintenance and cleaning required to care for hardwood floors.

However, you will be surprised that hardwood floors are much easier to maintain than carpets.

Maintenance: Hardwood Floor vs Carpet

It is far simpler to clean the dust, spills, or build-ups from hardwood floors as they are not as thick and absorbing as carpets. They can be swept, mopped, and dam-mopped without effort, and overall cleaning is not very complex.

Besides, even if you did not care for hardwood floors for some time or were not present in the house to do so, and it has resulted in a buildup layer on the surface, it is very easy to clean that.

However, if the same case had been for carpeted floors, cleaning and washing the carpets is too much of a task which involves various complex steps and procedures that one would not want to go through.

Another important factor in the maintenance of carpets is to maintain their pristine shape because carpets can easily get deshaped due to the actions of dust, dirt, and wind.

Furthermore, it is very hard to dry them as hanging the carpets on a wire is not an option. The weight of the carpet itself can cause it to lose shape, and during drying, it is already heavier due to the increased water content.

In addition, the daily cleaning of carpeted floors involves vacuuming daily to prevent the accumulation of dirt and other unwanted substances in the carpet’s fibers.

But the task doesn’t end here; in stains or spillages, you can’t simply wipe or damp-mop like hardwood floors.

It would be best to use special shampoos and cleaning treatments to cure the affected or stained area.

Besides, every stain would require another washing session; be it partial if not for the entire carpet, but you can’t just leave it be as it can destroy the structure of your carpet fibers over time.

Therefore, hardwood floors are much simpler and easier to maintain in the longer run, which is why they are preferred over carpets when refinishing the old hardwood floors in the house.


Contrary to common beliefs, the cost of refinishing your hardwood floors is not as much as people think it is.

Refinishing hardwood floors is, in fact, a very affordable option when you compare it with the cost of other alternatives, such as carpeting the existing floors.
While many might think this is just a statement that statistics can’t back, allow us to elaborate.

Many people only consider the installation cost when it comes to carpeting the existing floors.

However, this is certainly not accurate as you need to add the costs of labor, transportation, repairs (if necessary), other materials, and the overall maintenance cost to get a comprehensive budget.

This will not only allow you to get the right budget for the task but also allow you to predict if you can sustain your decision in the long run.

Cost: Hardwood Floor vs Carpet

For instance, the average cost of getting a floor carpeted (only material) is $1 per square foot. However, this is for the lowest quality, which would barely last you 2-3 years and does not include installation charges.

If you move towards more durable options, you will come around a cost of almost $3 per square foot of your floors.

Again, this does not include any installation charges or other such expenses. If you add the labor costs and costs of transportation, you can expect the cost to increase to $6-8 per square foot.

Such qualities will last you 3-4 years but will be more durable under high traffic. Although the cost can go up to $20 per square foot for the high-end wool carpets, we will not consider them in this discussion.

With an average budget of $6-8, we expect the cost to be around $900 to $1200 for a room of 150 sq. ft. However, if you are going for the cheaper solutions, the total cost can be somewhere between $450 to $600.

But it is to be kept in mind that this cost will have to be reimbursed every few years and will certainly increase according to the inflation rates and the time passed.

On the other hand, the cost of refinishing a hardwood floor ranges from $3-$8. Our simple math would allow us to determine that a 150 sq. ft room size of 10×5 would cost you around $450 to $1,200.

The variable cost depends on the type of wood you have, the amount of damage or wear and tear it has received, and the type of cleaning, sealing, and buffing you may opt for.

Using the same formula, a hardwood floor of 100 sq. ft would cost around $3000 – $8000 to be refinished.

However, you can keep a margin of $500 – $1000 based on factors such as the size of the house, access to the house, labor costs in the area, quantity and quality of the materials, and the cost of preparation, sanding, staining, and sailing.

The price might also vary depending on other factors, such as unfinished work taken up by another contractor, the type of hardwood floors you have, the extent of damage and the materials/labor required to fix that, and the post-process cleanup charges.

All of these would be combined to reduce the cost of your hardwood floor refinishing. However, this cost can be reduced by a major factor if you can do the task yourself.

At least 40% of the above cost is labor cost which can be eliminated if you take on the project yourself.

While the cost of carpeting might seem significantly lower, let us look at the total budget required in an average 10-year time frame.

On average, a carpeted floor would require to be renewed every 4 years if you are using a decent quality.

This means your total expense would be 2.5 times the original cost ($700 average), which equals $1750. If you add maintenance costs of 10 years the sum can go up to $3000.

However, if you are getting hardwood floors refinished, they require one finish every 10 years or so, depending upon the type of finish and the amount of traffic the floors receive.

Therefore, a generous estimate of 1.5 times the actual cost ($900 average) would end up somewhere around $1350.

Moreover, the hardwood floors do not require as much maintenance, so the total cost can be expected to be somewhere around $1800.

Hence, if you are looking for a long-term solution, getting hardwood floor refinishing is the best option compared to carpeting the existing floors.

Hardwood floors are durable, long-lasting, and much more affordable than carpets from almost all perspectives.

Refinishing/Installing Hardwood Floors Over Carpets

Many people want to get hardwood floors in their houses and refinish the existing ones not because it is affordable but because it has a much more attractive appeal.

However, there are a lot more reasons which can justify the refinishing of hardwood floors over getting them carpeted.

As technology has advanced, many people who previously had reservations about hardwood floors being bland and non-versatile have also been satisfied.

This is because hardwood floors are not present in various styles, colors, designs, textures, and aesthetics which can rightfully complement the atmosphere in your house.

Below are some reasons which can compel you to get hardwood floors refinished in your houses:

  • Having children or pets in the house can be a major factor that you should choose to get hardwood floors refinished. The reason is that hardwood floors express exemplary durability and can take wear and tear in terms of scratches and spillages without being extensively damaged quickly.
  • Hardwood floors are a suitable option if someone in the house has any allergies, such as pollen or dust allergy. These can get trapped in the carpet’s fibers and are released when pressure is applied. Hence, resulting in triggering your allergies and becoming a source of pain and irritation. Hardwood floors, however, are much easier to maintain and do not support any allergies.
  • It is much easier to deep clean hardwood floors, and the frequency required is once in one to two months. On the contrary, carpets need to be deep cleaned every week to ensure that they are not being stuffed up with dust over time.
  • Hardwood floors offer a considerable ROI, and even if you think they are a hefty investment, they are surely worth it. According to recent studies, it has been calculated that hardwood floors offer returns of up to 106% depending upon the quality and the type of wood. This would mean a 100% return on your investment and a further 6% appraisal of the property’s overall value. Not to boast about the hot-selling feature that hardwood floors add to your house.
  • Another important factor in refinishing your hardwood floors over carpeting them is if you live in a hotter environment. Hardwood floors are cold upon touch and do not get hot very easily. Hence, if you live in an area with higher average temperatures, carpets would increase the intensity of the heat by a significant factor, whereas hardwood floors can help keep the house much cooler.
Refinishing Installing Hardwood Floors Over Carpets

Installing Carpets Over Hardwood Floors

Although carpeted floors require a lot of maintenance and are not as durable or long-lasting, they have many perks that must be noticed in any situation.

Many people do not refinish their hardwood floors not because it seems expensive but because they want to enjoy the perks of carpeted floors.

Installing Carpets Over Hardwood Floors

Here are some possible reasons for getting carpets installed on your floors:

  • If you live in a colder climate, carpets will be your greatest savior. You can save money on gas and electricity as heaters won’t be necessary if time. The carpets are warm and do not let the floors get cold. Hence the house’s temperatures remain moderate, which is impossible with hardwood floors.
  • Carpets allow you to walk barefoot without having to worry about cold floors or getting your feet dirty. The soft and cozy feeling under your foot is unmatched and can’t be experienced if you have hardwood floors.
  • Being on a budget does not mean you can’t enjoy floors with an exquisite touch. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to refinish the floors, you can get carpets with beautiful designs on a very reasonable budget and still adorn the look of your house’s interior. You can change the designs when the carpets require replacement and hence, keep the designs in your house up to date without having to go through the complex and expensive cost of refinishing the floors.
  • If you live in an apartment, a flat, or on the upper portion of the house and do not want to disturb your downstairs neighbors, carpets are the best solution. They are excellent sound absorbers which will make the floors and the entire house much more sound-proof. Hence, if you are concerned that the landlord might be hard on you if you make too much noise upstairs, consider installing carpets to counter this problem.
  • If comfort is your number one priority, you must choose carpets over anything else for your floors. The amount of softness and coziness the carpeted floors provide is unmatched by any other type of flooring. Carpets make your rooms and the house much cozier and give an overall friendly and welcoming appeal.
  • Having children in the house, especially babies or toddlers, means you must install carpets in your house. Children often fall while playing or walking, and carpets can give their fall a cushioning effect and prevent chances of possible injury. They make the floors safer for your children to play or wander around.
  • Another important factor is the overall cleaning of the house. Cleaning the carpets is much easier than hardwood floors provided you vacuum every day and not let any spillages happen. If you can maintain this habit, carpets are your best solution, as they do not require much maintenance. A simple vacuuming would be good enough, and you won’t have to sweep, damp-mop, and polish the floors now, as with hardwood floors.

Is It Worth It To Refinish Hardwood Floors?

Refinishing hardwood floors is worth it, provided they would last you almost a decade on good refinishing.

Hardwood floors are far more durable than any other flooring option due to their natural strength and resilience.

And while many may argue about their prices and refinishing costs, they are natural resources that are not easy to come by.

Besides, refinishing your hardwood floors allows for great diversity as you can choose a different colored stain and change the entire look of your hardwood floors from something like golden brown to dark and misty oak.

What Is The Cheapest Way To Refinish Floors?

The cheapest way to refinish hardwood floors is to carry out the entire process yourself and not hire any professional service. If you are willing to put in the effort, you might save a lot of money.

On average, you can save at least $2000 on the project of refinishing all the floors in your house by doing it yourself, and the maximum possible concession you will get from DYing the project would be roughly $5000.

This is mainly due to the extensive labor costs, which might vary according to your area. Besides, you can choose the products yourself and make sure to select a varnish and stain with the best results under a reasonable budget.

Please remember that you must never try to save money on the quality of the products.

While you might save much money on labor costs and service charges, please don’t hold back on the quality of the products as it can mean adding or subtracting a few years from the life of your new finish.

However, you must only take up this project if you think you can pull it off, as a small sanding or staining mistake can turn out to be pretty expensive in terms of repair, and in worst-case scenarios, you might even have to get your floors replaced after all.

What Is Healthier Carpet Or Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors are certainly far more healthy as compared to carpets. Carpets can trigger allergies such as pollen and dust as they can get trapped in their fibers.

Moreover, some cheaper categories also release VOCs over time due to the low-quality colors used in manufacturing.

VOCs can be extremely dangerous and can cause respiratory problems, allergies to skin, eyes, and throat, and even cause cancer in animals, especially dogs.

Hence, if you are concerned about the health and well-being of your family members and pets, you must install hardwood floors in your house.

They do not leave any lint on the floor or trap any dust or pollen on the surface.

This makes them the safest option and the most desirable among people who don’t want to get their families sick due to the adverse effects of carpets on one’s health.

What Are The Cons Of Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

Hardwood floors’ most prominent cons are the installation expense and the hard surface. If you have children at home, it might not be as safe for them to play on hardwood surfaces as they can get hurt if they fall.

Moreover, colder climates and hardwood floors do not go hand-in-hand because hardwood floors are always cold and do not retain heat. This makes them unsuitable for winters or cold climates.

Another notable con of hardwood floors is the complex procedure of installation. While carpets must be laid down on the surface of the floors or fixed at the ends, hardwood floors are much more difficult to install.

You must prepare a subfloor layer and cut the boards according to the room’s dimensions.

Furthermore, fixing the joints and fastening the planks with nails, screws, and glue is another extra task that is a headache.

Moreover, it is very hard to repair hardwood floors once damaged. While all you need to do with carpets is replace them, this might not be possible for hardwood flooring.

Wooden floors must be stripped off to be repaired and fastened back into the structure. All of these are complex procedures that require professional services.

This would result in added expenditures and many headaches for quite some time once the floors have received extensive damage.

Bottom Line

Hardwood refinishing is costly when you think of the immediate expenses but it is a much more reliable option when you look at the bigger picture.

Hence, it is recommended that if you can spare a little more budget, you must go for refinishing hardwood floors which will allow you to stay tension-free for the next decade.

The maintenance cost of hardwood floors is the bare minimum and the upkeep is very easy.

Besides, it will also give you a considerable amount of return if you are planning to sell or rent out your property anywhere in the future.

However, if it is becoming difficult to spare the budget for the entire refinishing and you are inclining towards getting your floors carpeted, hold your horses as we have an idea that you might like.

Try refinishing your floors without sanding using a chemical bonding method which will save you a lot of money and labor cost.

Besides, it will also allow you to refinish your hardwood floors without having to sand the floor and the overall cost would be even less than carpeting your hardwood floors.

Hence, if you also have worn-out hardwood floors in your house and you are at the verge of deciding whether to get carpets or refinish the existing hardwood floors, make sure to consult all the important factors mentioned above and then make a comprehensive decision for your floors.

Leave a Comment