hardwood flooring costs

Hardwood Flooring Prices: Complete Guide & Factors

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

Yes, the cost for hardwood floors is higher than for some of its alternatives, but the funds you spend really are 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 will already be 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 factors.

Let’s look further into hardwood flooring options and costs so that you know what you can expect if you want them 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 factors can impact the cost.

Cost Factors For Hardwood Flooring

Solid or engineered hardwoods?  Exotic or native species?

Hardness, thickness, and type of finish all of these factors impact price. 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 (red oak or white 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 ⅙-inch-thick veneer (or more) and seven core layers will cost between $8 and $13 per square foot.

Where you purchase your flooring from can also 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, 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, companies located in the USA and Canada have more stringent guidelines than some materials made overseas, especially when it comes to engineered hardwood flooring.

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

If you purchase it in a store, you may be able to transport materials 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 you live in a state that charges it). If you order online, you may not have to pay a sales tax depending on where you purchase from, but it is best to err on the side of caution and factor it in as a cost.

How much does hardwood flooring cost? That’s a question without a specific answer, but after considering all these factors, you can effectively ballpark a potential number. Now, let’s find out which installation process factors can increase the cost of your new floors.

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Hardwood Flooring Installation Cost Factors

  • Type of hardwood flooring
  • DIY or Professional installation
  • Level of installation difficulty
  • Removal of old flooring
  • Possibility of subfloor issues
  • Additional materials
  • Furniture movement
  • Region in which 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, meaning it can go on top of existing flooring.

Hardwood Flooring Installation Cost Factors

How does this impact the hardwood floor installation cost? Flooring type can affect cost in several ways.

First, solid hardwood flooring installation 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 develop gaps between planks when it contracts.

Next, because solid hardwood must be nailed, glued, or stapled, keep in mind that the extra materials to do so will incur a cost as well.

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

If you are considering engineered hardwoods, you can also hire a professional to install. Alternatively, you can save a few dollars by tackling 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 both 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 old flooring.

With either hardwood planks or engineered hardwood, 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 covers installation only, and does not account for any additional charges.

Underlayment is one such additional charge. Regardless of the type of flooring you choose, you will need an underlayment, and this can range anywhere from four cents to $1.25 per square foot depending on what you need.

Your job’s level of difficulty will also impact the cost. If you want hardwoods on a staircase, for instance, or fitted around electrical wiring, the process takes longer and the cost will go up accordingly.

Your subfloor’s current condition will also impact the overall installation cost. It needs to be clear of nails, staples, and other debris. It also needs to be relatively level. If your installer has to clean it up or level it out, such additional efforts 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 floors and walls.

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

Either way, extra materials mean extra cost. On average, trim and baseboards cost around $2 per linear foot, though you can find options that are cheaper and certainly those that are more expensive.

The cost to install trim and molding is around $1.25 per linear foot. However, if you want nail holes painted over or caulking to be added, expect 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 pieces for you, they’ll likely charge for doing so. If you are looking to save a few dollars, moving your furnishings in advance out of any rooms that are being remodeled is one simple way of doing so.

And finally, your home’s location can impact the cost of hardwood installation. If you live close to where your contractors are based out of, then the job will likely be less expensive. If you are in a remote location or live far from your contractor’s headquarters, expect to pay for travel costs..

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Engineered vs. Hardwood Flooring

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

Engineered vs. Hardwood Flooring

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

First of all, both options are considered hardwood flooring. Some people have a misconception that engineered hardwood is not “really” hardwood, but this is untrue.

Both are made from 100% real woodl; they are simply constructed in different ways.

Solid hardwood flooring is 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 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 frequently than you can engineered hardwoods. The thickness of its veneer impacts how many times you can refinish engineered hardwood flooring. So if refinishing is a concern, choose a thicker veneer to ensure longevity.

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.

So, where exactly can each type of flooring 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 any home. It also makes your home more attractive to potential future buyers.

So if resale value is on your mind, then installing hardwoods is a good investment. However, there are some rooms that they shouldn’t be installed in. This is especially the case with solid hardwood.

Because it is sensitive to moisture and humidity, solid hardwoods should not be installed below ground level. If you have a basement to cover, you are best off choosing a different type of flooring.

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

However, solid hardwood flooring is a nice fit for bedrooms, living rooms, home offices, and just about any other type of room.

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

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 exceed four percent.

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Ways To Keep The Costs Down

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

Don’t Buy Right Away

First, shop around for your hardwood flooring. Sometimes stores offer special pricing or clearance events. It’s never smart to buy the first floor that you see and love.

Compare brands and stores, and look online for the most competitive pricing. If your project is not time-sensitive, wait for seasonal or Black Friday sales when materials are discounted.

Lower Grade

Getting a lower-grade hardwood floor is a sacrifice many are willing to make in order to  keep total project costs down.

Planks that belong to the “No. 1 Common” grade have a wider color variation, and that’s what people usually find appealing. However, you can easily find excellent choices that belong to the “No. 2 Common” grade, and for a lower cost.

Buy Your Materials

If you let the contractor buy materials, your project will probably cost more. This doesn’t mean that you need to go to the first improvement store and purchase the cheapest materials available; you should still seek out quality products.

Save On Installation

There are so many things to consider when it comes to installation, including whether you can tackle the job yourself. Self-installation will definitely lower the overall  project cost, but make sure you know what you’re doing before getting started.

Get Multiple Offers

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 cost estimates before choosing a contractor.

One trick that can come in handy is having your floors installed during a slow season. For example, professional installers are less busy during winter and might be inclined to give you a lower rate.

Consider looking at companies and contractors that offer free estimates so that you don’t have to spend too much on acquiring the estimates to begin with. Getting an approximate calculation free of charge is great, especially if you can’t decide on which professional team you want to hire.

Remember, your quote will not represent the final and exact cost of the project, but it will be a solid estimate of what you’ll need to pay.

Get To Work

Finally, do some of the work yourself. One of the easiest ways to save money is to discard the old flooring yourself. If you hire a contractor to do this part, you’ll have to pay for their services. Since some hardwood floors can be installed on top of your old flooring, don’t hire someone else to remove it if removal is unnecessary.

Also, you need to consider disposal of the old flooring. That can cost as well when someone else takes care of it. Do your research and decide whether disposing of old flooring materials yourself is worth the savings.

If it is in good condition, try selling the old flooring, and invest the funds into your new hardwood flooring.

Another step to consider tackling on your own is moving furniture to another room. Yes, I’ve already hinted that installers will charge extra to do so, so why not do it yourself? Even better, get help from your friends, neighbors, or relatives, and you’ll be done in no time.

The same thing applies to carpets. Don’t pay a contractor to rip them up if you can do it yourself. Also, complete any other prep work that you can to save on labor costs.

Refinish

If you already have hardwood floors at home, consider refinishing them instead of replacing them. This will significantly lower the cost of your project, especially if your floors are in good condition.

Don’t let a few scratches fool you! After the refinishing process is done, your floors will look as good as new.

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FAQs

Are Hardwood Floors Worth It?

When you first research hardwood flooring prices, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But remember that the high cost comes with many benefits that will justify your investment.

There are solid reasons why paying up is worthwhile, one of which is durability. If you’re planning on staying in the house for a long time, this type of flooring is one of  the best investments you can make. The fact that these floors are resistant to wear and tear and can last for decades make them worth considering.

Let’s not forget how stunning, rich, and timeless this type of flooring is. Hardwoods will upgrade the décor in most rooms of your home; you won’t have to splurge on expensive furniture.

Next on the list of bonuses comes easy maintenance. You’ll immediately notice that hardwood is simpler to take care of when compared against many other flooring types.

Both engineered and solid hardwood floors can be sanded down and refinished as I mentioned before, making them feel like new floors, even after years of wear and tear. These are just some benefits that you’ll see thanks to hardwood flooring. You’ll quickly  understand what makes them so beloved and worth every single dollar of your investment.

Do Hardwood Floors Add Value To My Home?

Hardwood floors will add value to your home, whether you opt for solid or engineered wood. If you’re trying to make an investment that will pay back in the future, this home improvement is it.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, refinishing your hardwood floors is the top money-back value factor among potential homebuyers, industry professionals, and real estate agents.

Also, if you’ve been looking to install brand new hardwood floors, go ahead and do it. According to this same survey, you will recover 91% of the costs. In other words, you will recoup the money you paid for quality flooring by selling the house at a higher price.

The reason why people love buying houses with hardwood floors is that they are so gorgeous to look at, they last for generations, can be refinished (sometimes even more than once, depending on the type); they are easy to clean, and withstand wear and tear, among other pros.

Do Hardwood Floors Make Your House Colder?

This type of flooring will not only elevate the appearance of your rooms, it can also help you lower your utility bills. Wood is a material that stores heat and balances the temperature inside your house. It provides a consistent temperature by preventing significant variations.

Hardwood floors will not make your house colder. On the contrary, they will make it warmer by retaining the heat that can otherwise escape through a number of other flooring types. Although wood will make your home appear and feel warmer, it can give you cold feet while you’re walking around the house. A great solution to this problem is to pair hardwood floors with carpets and rugs that elevate the décor and keep your toes warm.

Hardwood floors have a high thermal mass, which means they can first absorb then store heat, making your home cozier. However, there is a list of other factors you need to consider, so make sure that you consult with an HVAC technician to know all the steps you need to take before installation to optimize heat insulation with this type of flooring.

The initial hardwood flooring investment is higher than alternative flooring types, but it will pay off in the long-term by slightly lowering a part of your utility bills. This is definitely a factor to think about before deciding which flooring material works best for you.

Can I Install These Floors Myself To Lower The Cost?

Installing your own hardwood floors is an option, but the safest way to go is hiring flooring contractors. As I said previously, engineered hardwood floors are easier to install than hardwood planks, so you may try doing so without a professional’s help.

Solid hardwood floors, on the other hand, are not as simple. Enlisting the help of a professional for installation will pay off in the end. This is not a flooring type that you can just glue or staple; rather, it requires knowledge and experience to install properly.

The reason why I suggest that you always consult with a professional first is because these are expensive materials that will cost a lot to replace if something goes wrong.

Stapling and gluing sound simple, but the processes are much more complicated than they sound. There are special tools that you’ll need, and the chances are you might not have them readily available. You may end up spending much more money on new tools that are essential to the installation process.

Finally, professionals know a lot about different types of wood, how these materials should be handled, contraction, gaps, how to deal with different unexpected situations, how to handle corners, uneven floors, and much more.

If you have basic knowledge of flooring, and are ready to learn, go ahead and try your hand at installation. Educate yourself, watch tutorials, and read all there is available about the hardwood material you’ll choose. This will best equip you to avoid any mishaps.

Before you decide to install floors yourself, make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of this DIY project and get estimates from several flooring installers to know how much you’ll be saving.

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Conclusion

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

If you know in advance what your budget is, you can best determine what type of hardwood flooring fits within your parameters.

Different species, grading, and brand can impact a material’s price. And while solid and engineered hardwoods are priced similarly, 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.

Whichever material 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.

If you have any comments or first-hand experiences with hardwood flooring, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media.

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About Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer, blogger, and home improvement finatic. She loves to write about things that will transform your house into your dream home. Jennifer is a graduate of Texas A&M University. LinkedIn.

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