Unless you have a very reliable contractor, plan on getting multiple quotes on any item over $1000. $3.50/sq ft is highway robbery unless your talking about a very small area. You can almost get new hardwoods installed for that price.
Having just refinished with a flooring guy who was very chatty I will pass on a couple points. Things that contribute to a greater price per square foot are: flooring covered with paint ( I could barely get anyone to even quote me on this and we wound up doing it ourselves), stairs, staining (it is an extra coat), nails poking up, water based finish. I was told the water base would have been almost a dollar more a square foot. Get a couple quotes and maybe you can get the price down.
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