DIY Floor Refinishing and Restoration or Contractor?

Posted by Aaron Schaalma

How to Decide Between DIY Floor Refinishing or Hiring a Pro

As a DIY enthusiast, it’s important to take on new challenges to improve your experience and skill. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, you should take it and try to learn as much as possible from the experience so you can further your ability. This will help you train yourself to become a better DIYer and help identify your own limitations. But it’s also completely fine to throw in the towel if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Let’s face it, we’ve all been in a situation before where it feels like we’re taking on too big of a job. DIY projects are a great place to learn and study new skills, but it’s also your own home. It’s completely understandable if you just want to get your home in a livable condition so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. So how can you pick between the two options? What’s really best for you and how can you make that decision? In this post, we’ll be looking at how to decide between a DIY floor refinish and restoration or hiring a pro.

Assess Your Skills and Resources

wiping-spill-hardwood Let’s be honest for a moment and ask ourselves how much DIY knowledge and skill we actually have. You really need to consider if you’re up for the task and if you even have the resources needed to carry out a project like refinishing hardwood floors by yourself.

Your Skills

First, assess how competent you are and what skills you have that could lead to a successful DIY floor restoration. Have you dipped your toes into flooring in the past? Do you know much about hardwood floors, the different materials and considerations to keep in mind?  Unfortunately we have seen DIY flooring projects where the home owner actually did considerably more damage to their hardwood floors which ultimately cost more time and money to repair. If you don’t know much about flooring and the different types of wood then you should consider hiring a contractor to sand and refinish your floors.

Project Scale

You should also keep in mind the scale of the project and resources available to you.  For example, if you want to redo all of the floors in your home, then you’re going to have a rough time getting it done by yourself. Consider how many rooms you’ll have to refinish and restore–is it really practical to do a project that big by yourself?  If you have a small home that you live in then this is completely doable, especially if you get some help. However, if it’s a large 3-bedroom home with multiple floors, you might be better off just hiring a contractor.

Your Resources

What about your resources? And no–this isn’t just a case of money.    Time is perhaps the biggest resource that limits us from carrying out big DIY projects ourselves. Nobody wants to live in a home with half-finished flooring for several weeks or even months. If you have to work a full day job during the weekday then you’re going to have almost no time to refinish and restore your floors.    You might consider taking a week off work or turning it into a weekend project. The reality is that a week or two isn’t enough time to refinish and restore all the floors in your home unless you have help.  

Your Equipment

Next, we also need to think about the equipment. When you hire a professional, they’re going to come equipped with thousands worth in high-end gear that can help you refinish and restore your floors with ease.    They make it look easy because they have big tools that allow them to get the job done quickly, and they have the training necessary to use them. As a DIY enthusiast, you’re not going to have the same tools or knowledge to carry out a big floor refinishing job.   You can rent things like sanders, but consider the amount of time you will need to rent this equipment. The cost can add up. Plus, you are not renting well maintained equipment. And if you don’t have experience using this equipment, you can do irreparable damage to your floors.  

Your Experience

Lastly, what about your experience in DIY? Have you carried out large-scale DIY projects before, or are you still a newcomer? If this is your first DIY project then you might want to practice on something a little smaller. Carrying out a whole-home DIY floor refinish and restoration project is going to be extremely daunting, even if someone gives you advice along the way.   At the end of the day, unless you’ve worked as a flooring contractor before or have friends in the business, hiring a pro is going to give you a much better experience. DIY is a great way to learn new skills to repair and improve your home, but flooring projects is one area of home improvement that you should hire an expert to tackle.   However, that’s not to say that you should never carry out your own floor refinishing and restoration. In fact, if the conditions are right, then you may be able to learn the skills required and finish the project within your budgeted time.  

Goal and Scope

before refinishing for maple wood floor

What’s the Plan?

Let’s be realistic for a moment and consider the possibility that you’re only planning to refinish or restore the floor in just a single room.    In this case, you’ll probably have a great time carrying out the project and will learn a lot of new skills to improve your DIY prowess. Doing just a single room means you don’t have a huge project on your hands. But even a single room can take a considerable amount of time.  

What Are The Conditions?

You should also take note of the quality and characteristics of your floor. Ask yourself if refinishing is even possible given its current condition. For instance, if your floor has suffered a lot of damage and hasn’t been fixed or replaced for many years, then it may be best to address those repairs first before you attempt to refinish it. This will involve a bit more work, but it’ll help smooth out any glaring problems that you have.  

What’s The Payoff?

Lastly, it’s a good idea to think about your reasons for wanting to refinish or restore your floors. There are two main points here; are you doing it to add value to your home, or is it to add personal taste and flavour to your home?   If you’re doing it to add value to your home then it’s going to make more sense to hire a professional to do it. While it may appear to be cheaper to do it yourself, you have to factor in the time spent, errors, and equipment rental. In most cases, the money you lose from spending so much time on it can easily be made up if you hired a professional.   However, if you’re doing it to improve the overall look of your home, then it’s perfectly acceptable to try carry out your own project. After all, you could consider it more of a passion project than an investment in the value of your home. If this is your first flooring project, just be aware that we do see a considerable difference in the outcome of a DIY project vs our professions refinishing services.   Also, if improving the look of your home is of value, a professional with experience can offer you options for your floor refinishing that you may not have ever considered before and will know how to properly achieve the look you’re going for given the space and lighting.  

Time and Budget

wood floor stain samples Time and money are the two biggest factors to consider when deciding between a DIY project and hiring a professional.

Get Quotes From Local Businesses

First, consider speaking to multiple contractors to get an idea of how much you’d have to pay for what you need. Getting quotes from different businesses allows you to compare their services and prices with their reputation. If the quoted price is too high, then you may be tempted to just carry it out on your own. If the price is comparably lower, you may want to understand why. Take for example, these before/after photos and review from one of our clients Google's service review:
"Aaron at Signature Custom Flooring really saved our floors and our sanity! My fiancee and I tore out the dingy carpet covering a big chunk of the house and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to refinish the floors ourselves. After 2 months of working on it during our nights and weekends, trying to make progress with our busy schedules, we finally thought we were finished. However, when we put the stain on we discovered that there were a bunch of spots where it looked really terrible. That's when we called a professional, and we couldn't be happier that we found Signature Custom Flooring!Aaron came over to assess the situation, and offered his advice on what would work best to fit our needs and leave us with a great looking floor. He was also able to start less than 2 weeks after we first met with him, and had the whole thing done in one weekend while we were out of town! If only we would have called him right away we would have saved a ton of time, effort, and expense. He even was able to cover a bunch of unsightly nail heads in the stairs, which we didn't even think would be possible.We would recommend Signature Custom Flooring to anyone with flooring needs - Aaron is very professional, courteous, and willing to answer questions, and will make sure your floors are something you can be proud of."

- John Menn

Get Real Numbers For Time and Resources

Once you have an idea of how much it’ll cost to do the project professionally, you can try to budget your time and money to do it yourself. Consider how much time you might need to take off work, all of the equipment you’ll need to purchase and rent and also the supplies you might need when restoring your floor.  As you can expect, this is going to take a lot of time to plan out.

Does It Make Sense?

However, if the scope of your project is rather small and you’ve got experience from previous projects, then you’ll probably have a much easier time doing this. The key takeaway here is to remember that the size of your project directly correlates to the success of it as a DIY endeavor Far too many first-timer DIYers tackle large-scale projects without understanding the gravity of their responsibilities. In short, plan ahead and budget for everything. Compare what you’d be spending on the project from a DIY perspective to what local contractors are quoting you on. Decide for yourself if the time and effort investment is worth the potential savings and experience you’ll gain from carrying out a DIY project.


Hiring a professional is arguably the easiest way to get a DIY floor refinishing or restoration done quickly. It’s the least amount of hassle and you’ll be in professional hands at all times. With that said, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for someone that is interested in DIY projects. You don’t get many opportunities to improve your skills as a DIY enthusiast, and a flooring project is something that you can learn a lot from if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and money However, it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve. If you set a low scope such as a single room and give yourself plenty of time, then you’re far more likely to complete a successful project and pick up some valuable skills and experience.