If it’s time to replace your old floors and laminate flooring is on your radar, it is an excellent choice. And here’s why.
Laminate flooring is very good value for the money. And even though it seems to get a bad “rap” sometimes, it is still one of the leading choices in flooring today.
It is easy to install, easy to maintain, and holds up well in high traffic areas.
Today’s laminate has the look and even some of the texture of hardwoods and natural stone, especially the higher quality laminate floors. Yet, the cost to buy and install it is much less than the flooring options it imitates.
Let’s look further at what it would cost you to install laminate flooring in your home.
- Factors: Materials Cost
- Factors: Installation Cost
- How Much Flooring do You Need (Measurements)?
- Where to Buy
- How to Save
Laminate Flooring Cost Factors
- The number of square feet you plan to cover
- The quality of laminate you choose
- The brand of the laminate
- Where you buy it
- Shipping, delivery, and sales tax
Laminate flooring is inexpensive to moderately-priced. And for many people, it is a great flooring option.
There are a few factors to consider when determining its cost. First, how much do you need?
Measure your floors to help you figure out the amount that you will need. And add another five to ten percent to this number to account for waste and trimmed pieces.
Once you know how much you will need, you can begin to look at the different options that are out there. The quality and brand that you choose will impact your final cost.
Each brand typically carries selections at different quality levels. The higher the quality product, the more it will cost you.
Prices generally run anywhere from $1 to $5 a square foot. And most laminate flooring costs between $2 and $4 per square foot.
Since quality is a major factor in the price, what criterion determine the quality of the laminate?
Laminate’s wear layer, overall thickness, and type of bottom layer all impact the quality of the flooring.
Cheap laminate may only cost $1 per square foot; however, it is about 1/8-inch thick and has an extremely thin top wear layer. This type of laminate is not recommended in high traffic areas as it will wear down much quicker than other options.
Medium-quality laminate is generally in the $2 to $4 per square foot range. It has a thicker wear layer on top, and overall is about 3/8-inch thick.
And high-quality laminate usually costs between $3 and $5 per square foot. It has the thickest top layer and an overall thickness of around 1/2-inch.
Some laminate flooring also includes a vapor barrier or attached underlayment as a bottom layer. This will increase the price of the laminate flooring; however, it can save you money in the long run.
Not only does the quality impact the price of your laminate, different brands have different prices for their laminate flooring.
Armstrong, Mohawk, Quick-Step, and Shaw have their basic laminate flooring collections priced between $1 and $3 per square foot. And their premium collections cost between $2.80 and $4.25 per square foot.
BerryAlloc, Bruce, Mannington, and Pergo basic laminate flooring is priced at around $1.55 to $3.60 per square foot. Their premium laminate flooring collections range between $3.50 and $5.25 per square foot.
Where and how you choose to buy your flooring is another factor. While most major retail and online stores are priced competitively, you can watch for sales or other discounts and save a few dollars.
Just make sure to factor in shipping, delivery, and tax into your final cost.
If you order online, you can plan on paying a shipping fee. If you purchase the product in a store, you have the option of taking it home on your own, or you can pay extra to have it delivered.
And, if you live in one of the 38 states that charge sales tax, include this fee in your calculations. In some cases when you order online, you may not have to pay sales tax, however, it is still a good idea to factor it in.
Laminate Flooring Installation Cost Factors
- Who installs it
- The complexity of the job
- The condition of your subfloor
- Removal of old flooring
- Additional materials needed
- Where you live
The first factor in determining how much an installation will cost is who does the installation. You or a professional?
Many laminate flooring options come with click-lock or tongue-and-groove technology which makes it a realistic DIY job. So, you can save significantly if you are able to install it yourself.
But if you are not a do-it-yourselfer, you will need to factor professional installation costs into your overall budget.
When you use an installer, there is a price per square foot installation fee. Average basic installation fees range from around $1 to $3 per square foot.
However, this price can go up depending on the complexity of the job. If laminate is going around plumbing, electrical, or HVAC equipment, this will cost extra.
If laminate flooring is going in small tight spaces, this will also cost extra because planks will have to be cut to fit the space.
Another factor that can impact the cost is the condition of your subfloor. Fortunately, laminate can be installed over most existing floors as a floating floor.
However, you may need to (or choose to) remove the existing flooring. If your contractor disposes of it for you, they will probably charge you for it.
And if old nails, dried glue, or other debris need to be removed or the subfloor must be leveled, these are also added expenses.
In addition to the cost of the laminate flooring, there will be other materials you may need to buy. For example, if your laminate flooring does not have an attached underlayment, then you’ll need to purchase underlayment.
Things like baseboards, caulking, or transition pieces also cost extra to buy and install.
Another factor that affects your overall cost is where you live. If the installers must drive a long way to a remote location for the job, then you can expect a trip charge.
How to Measure for Laminate Flooring
Measuring your home for laminate flooring is the first step to getting an idea as to what it is going to cost you to install it. And fortunately, it is pretty easy to do.
You’ll need a measuring tape and a pen and paper (because no matter how good your memory is, there’s still a chance you will forget these measurements if you don’t write them down).
Measure the room as you would a rectangle. If the room is L-shaped, then measure it as two separate rectangles.
In case it has been a few years since you took Geometry, the formula for calculating the square footage of a rectangle is width x length = square feet.
So, if your room measurements are 15 x 25 feet, then your total square footage for it is 375 square feet.
And remember to factor in an extra five to ten percent of square footage to account for waste and pieces that require trimming. That means that for a 375-square foot room, you should purchase about 394 to 413 square feet of materials.
Where to Buy Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is a popular flooring choice, and there are many options on where to buy it. You can order it online through various online retailers or visit a local flooring or home improvement store.
One benefit of buying online, especially from an online-only retailer, is that you may save some money. Since online stores do not have the same overhead as those with a storefront, their prices are generally lower.
Plus, if the online retailer is out of state, you may save on taxes because online purchases from other states do not require you to pay sales tax.
And, your flooring will be shipped directly to your home. So getting it home from the store is not an issue.
The downside to this is that you may not see exactly what you are getting until it arrives at your door. So if you go this route, make sure you order from a reputable company with a good return policy.
Also, some of these companies offer installation services, but with others, you may have to find contractors on your own.
Some popular online flooring stores are iFloor.com, BuildDirect, Wayfair, and Empire Today.
The company, iFloor.com, was the first online flooring store. They have a price-match guarantee, do not charge sales tax (unless you live in Georgia or Washington), and will let you return the flooring within 30 days if you are not satisfied with it.
BuildDirect is one of the leading wholesalers and manufacturers of flooring and building materials in the world. They offer a very large selection of laminate flooring and will refund your money within 30 days if you are not happy with the products you order.
With an easy website to navigate and extremely competitive pricing, Wayfair is another popular site to order flooring. However, their advertised “free shipping” policy for orders over $49 does not apply to flooring.
Empire Today offers a unique service. You can use their online store to select laminate flooring that you are interested in, then schedule and in-home consultation.
A trained salesperson will meet you in your home with the samples you selected and help you decide on what to order. They will then provide you with a free, professional estimate and even schedule the installation for you.
In addition to these options, many of the large flooring stores and home improvement stores offer both online and in-store services. Some of the more popular ones include Home Depot, Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Floor & Décor.
They provide trained sales associates who can guide you through the selection process. And they offer installation as part of the package.
Both stores have local retail locations and online stores, they both offer installation, and have very competitive pricing.
Ways to Save on Installation Costs
Shopping around for laminate flooring is a great way to cut costs on the product itself. But what about installation?
There are several ways that you can save on installation fees as well. The first and most obvious is to do the job yourself.
If you are handy at home and like DIY projects, installing your own laminate flooring is not a difficult task. However, if you prefer to pay someone to do it, you can still do some things to help reduce how much you’ll have to spend on the installation.
First, if the old flooring has to be removed, then do this job yourself. And let your contractor know you are removing it so that they do not include it in your cost.
You can remove nails, glue, and other debris from the subfloor. And remove any baseboards in advance of the installation so that your contractor doesn’t have to.
If it is concrete and needs to be patched or leveled, this is relatively easy to do on your own too for extra savings. And if the subfloor is wood, replace warped or damaged sections and sand down any parts that are unlevel.
Also, remove all the furniture from the room before your installer arrives, otherwise, you will get charged for this.
Another interesting, and not as well-known way to save on installation is by scheduling the job towards the end of winter. Why does the season impact the installation price?
Most people tackle home improvement projects in the fall, just before the holidays. So contractors are very busy.
However, once the holidays are over, business slows down and you have a better chance of getting a lower rate for the work. And always remember, get at least three quotes from three different licensed and insured contractors.
Laminate flooring is a cost-effective way to improve the look of your home. And if you shop around and do some research, you can find great deals on laminate floors.
The cheapest laminate is not recommended for high traffic areas; however, you don’t have to spend much to get a good quality product. And if you are willing to spend just a little bit more, it can resemble true hardwoods so much that your friends and family won’t even notice the difference.
Just be sure to factor in all the various costs associated with your new flooring, including installation.
While it would be nice if the installation charges were a flat rate based on square footage, this is rarely the case. Factors such as tight spaces, damaged subfloors, and even extra materials all weigh into the cost.
However, if you know about this in advance, then you can prepare and your final cost won’t be a surprise.