hardwood flooring cost

Hardwood Flooring: Materials & Installation Cost

Is it time to replace your old floors? You can’t go wrong with hardwood flooring.

Yes, it is more expensive than some of the alternatives, but it really is an investment in your home. Hardwood flooring goes with pretty much any style of décor.

It is timeless and it doesn’t go out of style. Hardwood flooring is also extremely durable.

Plus, it is the number one flooring option that potential homebuyers are drawn to.

So, if you decide to sell your home at any point, you are already ahead of the game. And you can expect to get more out of your home than you would with other flooring types.

What does it cost to install hardwood flooring? That depends on a few different factors.

Let’s look further at what you can expect to pay to have hardwood flooring installed in your home.

Cost Factors for Hardwood Flooring

  • Number of square feet needed
  • The type of wood you choose
  • The brand you choose
  • Shipping, delivery, and sales tax

There are many different choices when it comes to hardwood flooring. And each of these can impact the cost of it.

Solid or engineered hardwoods?  Exotic or native species?

Hardness, thickness, type of finish…all of these factors play a role. So how do you choose?

The best place to start is by determining how much flooring you’ll need.

Do this by measuring the square footage of the floors you plan to cover. And make sure to add an additional 5% to account for waste and planks that must be cut to fit.

When you come up with a price per square foot, this will help you to narrow the field of options.

Here’s what you can expect to spend per square foot for traditional solid wood flooring:

  • Soft woods such as pine cost between $3 and $6 per square foot.
  • Popular native woods such as cherry and oak cost around $5 to $10 a square foot.
  • And exotic woods like Brazilian walnut and mahogany will cost you about $8 to $14 per square foot.
  • Engineered hardwood flooring costs are very similar to those of the solid variety.
  • Basic engineered hardwood flooring that has a 1/12-inch-thick veneer (or less) and three core layers will cost between $3 and $5 per square foot.
  • Mid-range engineered hardwoods that have a veneer thicker than 1/12, but less than 1/6-inch-thick and five core layers will cost between $5 and $10 a square foot.
  • High-end engineered hardwood flooring with a 1/6-inch-thick veneer (or more) and seven core layers will cost between $8 and $13 per square foot.

Where you purchase your flooring can impact the cost, but probably not as much as the brand that you choose. Most stores offer competitive pricing and some may even offer a price-match guarantee.

However, different brands are priced differently. And a cheaper price on a similar product does not necessarily mean you are getting a better deal.

Look for brands that have strict quality control standards. Generally speaking, those located in the USA and Canada have more stringent guidelines than some of those made overseas, especially when it comes to engineered hardwood flooring.

Another cost to factor in is delivery to your home. If you order it online, there will probably be a shipping cost.

If you purchase it in a store, you may be able to take it home yourself and avoid a delivery charge. However, if this isn’t feasible for you, most stores will deliver flooring to your home for a fee.

And finally, don’t forget to factor in sales tax (if your state charges it). If you order online, you may not have to pay a sales tax depending on where you purchase it, but it is best to factor it in as a cost.

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Hardwood Flooring Installation Cost Factors

  • Type of hardwood flooring
  • DIY or Professional installation
  • Level of difficulty of the installation
  • Removal of old flooring
  • Subfloor issues
  • Additional materials
  • Moving furniture
  • Where you live

The type of hardwood flooring you select can impact the installation costs.

Solid hardwood flooring must be either nailed, stapled, or glued down to a subfloor. You can install engineered hardwood this same way, but you can also install it as a floating floor, and it can go on top of existing flooring.

How does this impact the installation cost? It affects it in several ways.

First, solid hardwood flooring is best left to the professionals. In addition to installing a proper subfloor and laying each plank, the installer needs to know how much room to leave between each board for expansion and contraction.

Getting this wrong can cause your floor to buckle when it expands, or have gaps in the floor when it contracts.

Next, because solid hardwood must be nailed, glued, or stapled, you will have to pay extra for the materials to do so.

For example, if your floor is stapled to a subfloor, it can cost you an extra $50 for the box of staples. And if your floor is glued down, expect to pay another 35 cents to $1.00 for adhesive materials (plus extra for labor since it is more time-consuming).

You can also hire a professional installer for your engineered hardwood flooring. Or, you can save a few dollars on installation with these boards by doing the job yourself.

Many engineered hardwoods come ready to install as a floating floor, which is a relatively simple DIY project. And floating floors can typically be installed on top of existing flooring, which saves time and money.

If you need to remove existing flooring, you can save some money by doing this yourself. Otherwise, there’s a removal charge for the old flooring.

With either type of flooring, if you hire a professional, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $5 per square foot for basic installation. Just remember that this number is before the additional charges.

Underlayment is one of these additional charges. Regardless of the type of hardwood flooring you choose, you will need an underlayment and this can range anywhere from four cents to $1.25 depending on what you need.

The level of difficulty will also impact the cost. If you want hardwoods on a staircase, or fitted around electrical wiring, it takes longer and so the cost will go up.

Your subfloor’s current condition will also impact the overall installation cost.

It needs to be clear of nails, staples, and other debris. And it needs to be relatively level.

If your installer has to clean it up or level it out, it will cost you extra.

Another factor that impacts your total installation cost is finishing materials and labor to install them. Typically, you will want to add baseboards and trim to close the gap between the floors and walls.

To do so, you will need to purchase materials. You can do this on your own, or have your installer provide them.

Either way, it is going to cost extra. On average, trim and baseboards cost around $2 a square foot, though you can find ones cheaper and certainly more expensive.

The cost to install trim and molding is around $1.25 a square foot. However, if you want the nail holes painted over or caulking, there will be additional fees for each of these as well.

If you currently live in the home, then you probably have furniture. If you want the installers to move it for you, they’ll charge for this.

So, if you are looking to save a few dollars, moving your furnishings out of any rooms that are being remodeled is one simple way to do so.

And finally, your location can impact the cost of installation. If you live in or close to the city that your contractors work out of, then it will be less expensive than it is for someone who lives in a remote location.

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Engineered vs. Hardwood Flooring

So, now that you have a general idea as to the costs of purchasing and installing hardwood flooring, what type of flooring will you choose?

Not only do you have to decide on color, grain, and species, you must choose whether to go with engineered or solid hardwood. Let’s compare the two.

First of all, both types are hardwood flooring. Some people have a misconception that engineered hardwood is not really hardwood, but this is not true.

They are both made from 100% real wood. They are just constructed differently.

Solid hardwood flooring is simply constructed out of solid pieces of wood. It is typically ¾ -inches thick and can be sanded down and refinished repeatedly.

Engineered hardwood flooring is made with a core of either plywood or solid hardwood and it has a top layer (or veneer) above the core layer that is also made out of hardwood.

Both types of flooring are beautiful, timeless, and add value to your home. And both are very durable.

However, you can refinish solid hardwoods more times than you can engineered hardwoods. The thickness of its veneer impacts how many times you can refinish engineered hardwood flooring.

So, if this is a concern, choose one with a thicker veneer.

Because of its construction, engineered hardwood is more resistant to moisture and heat than solid hardwood flooring. Solid hardwood flooring expands and contracts based on humidity levels.

Therefore, you are more limited as to where you can install solid hardwoods versus engineered hardwoods.

So, where exactly can each type of floorings go in your home? We’ll explore that more in this next section.

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In Which Rooms Can You Install Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood flooring looks beautiful in a home. And, it makes it more attractive to potential homebuyers.

So, if resale value is on your mind, then installing hardwoods is a good investment. However, there are some rooms that it shouldn’t go in.

And this is especially the case with solid hardwood flooring.

Because it is sensitive to moisture and humidity, it should not be installed below ground level. So, if you have a basement to cover, choose a different type of flooring.

It is also not recommended for bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms. Each of these areas is more susceptible to water and moisture.

However, solid hardwood flooring can go in bedrooms, living rooms, home offices, and just about any other type of room.

Engineered hardwood flooring has fewer limitations. While it is are not considered to be the best option for bathrooms, it is still an option.

Why? Because engineered hardwoods are more resilient and less affected by moisture than solid hardwoods.

So, if you want a uniform hardwood flooring look throughout your home, engineered hardwood is the way to go.

It can handle the traffic and moisture in kitchens. And it can also be installed in basements as long as the moisture content of the concrete below the flooring does not go over four percent.

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Ways to Keep the Costs Down

If staying within a budget is on your mind, there are some ways that you can help to keep the costs down.

First, shop around for your hardwood flooring. Sometimes stores offer special pricing or clearances on their flooring.

Compare brands, stores, and look online for the most competitive pricing.  And install the flooring yourself to save on installation fees.

But, if you plan to hire a professional, get multiple bids on the project from licensed and insured installers. As a general rule, you should get three different estimates before choosing a contractor.

Finally, do some of the work yourself. Discard old flooring, move furniture to another room, and do any other prep work that you can to save on labor costs.

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Conclusion

The best way to budget for hardwood flooring is to calculate all the costs and potential costs in advance.  That way, there are no surprises.

If you know in advance what your budget is, it will help you to determine what type of hardwood flooring fits within your parameters.

Different species, grading, and brand can impact the price. And while solid and engineered hardwoods are priced similar, you can expect to pay more in labor costs for solid hardwood flooring.

You can save even more money by installing engineered hardwoods yourself. However, even if you choose to hire a professional, there are ways to cut costs by doing some of the prep work yourself.

Whatever you choose, hardwood flooring is worth the investment. It is an attractive and timeless look that will add warmth, beauty, and value to your home.

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