How Much Does Hardwood Flooring Cost?
When homeowners are shopping for hardwood flooring, knowing the different options and their effect on price can keep the project within budget. Hardwood flooring cost typically runs from $2,484 to $6,804, with $4,568 as the national average.
- Typical Range: $2,484 to $6,804
- National Average: $4,568
Hardwood flooring can add texture and warmth to any room, but what is the cost to install hardwood floors? Several factors come into play when homeowners are estimating hardwood flooring cost. According to HomeAdvisor and Angi, the typical cost range runs from $2,484 to $6,804, with the national average at $4,568. Flooring professionals charge between $6 and $12 per square foot, and high-end jobs can run as high as $13 to $25 or more. On average, approximately 50 percent to 75 percent of the project budget will go to materials and the rest to labor costs. Hardwood flooring costs can fluctuate due to the type of wood, the width of the planks, the stain chosen, the type of adhesive, and the flooring style. Some hardwood flooring professionals will include the removal of old wood flooring or carpeting in the price of installation and trim, but others may charge separately for that service. Regardless of the style chosen, installing wood flooring not only improves the overall appearance of the room but also adds resale value and helps to increase the marketability of a home.
How to Calculate Hardwood Flooring Cost
Knowing how to calculate the overall hardwood floor installation cost will take away any sticker shock down the road. To figure out hardwood flooring cost per square foot, homeowners can calculate the square footage of the room, then add 5 percent to 10 percent for cuts and waste. That figure is then multiplied by the square foot price to find the total cost. The typical range for price per square foot is between $6 and $12, so it may be worth it to calculate both the low and high end of possible costs. It’s important to include the price of extras such as nails, moldings, and thresholds. The formula for calculating overall cost is:
(square footage + 5 percent to 10 percent of square footage) x price per square foot = cost
For example: (400 + 40 = 440) × $6 = $3,520 for a low-end estimated cost
Factors in Calculating Hardwood Flooring Cost
The factors that go into calculating hardwood flooring cost include the square footage of material, labor, and wood type as well as color, grain, plank width, style, pattern, and thickness. Whether the wood flooring is engineered or traditional solid hardwood will also play into the cost. There are many options available when it comes to choosing hardwood flooring. Accounting for these factors should provide homeowners with a fairly accurate estimate of the overall cost. According to David Goodell, founder of Woodworking Clarity, “When you are dealing with a reputable company, you won’t get hidden costs. They tend to charge a bit more, but they cover everything needed.” Being aware of the differences within each category will help homeowners select the wood flooring that’s right for their home.
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The larger the area where hardwood flooring is being installed, the higher the costs for labor and installation. On average, installing hardwoods costs between $6 and $12 per square foot. However, that price can jump to $13 to $25 if the space is very large, like an entire floor of the home. Installation for a small space that is only about 500 square feet will cost around $3,000 to $6,000. For an area of 2,000 square feet, homeowners can expect to pay up to $24,000.
Hardwood flooring comes from many different tree species, and each type has different colors, prices, and durability. The cheapest wood flooring is usually pine, which can run from $4.50 to $10 per square foot. Other, less expensive wood species of hardwood, such as oak and hickory, cost between $6 to $13 per square foot. More expensive species, such as Brazilian walnut, can run up to $11 to $20 per square foot.
Wood floors are graded by their physical characteristics. Wood flooring that has been graded “clear” has a uniform color and lacks knots or other imperfections. A “select” grade is given to wood flooring that has more of a natural appearance with knots, variations in color, and mineral streaks, while a grade of “No. 1 common” is given to wood flooring that has more color variation and may have wormholes. No. 1 common flooring costs between $6 and $11 per square foot installed. “No. 2 common” flooring is more rustic than the “No. 1 common” grading and costs between $9 and $18 per square foot installed. The “clear” grading is the most expensive, with the price going down according to the grade. Homeowners can expect to pay $12 to $23 per square foot installed for the highest-grade wood floors.
Wood flooring typically comes in boards that measure 3 inches wide or less. Wide plank flooring can cost anywhere from $4.50 to $18 per square foot for the boards plus the cost of labor. Fewer boards are required to cover the area when using wide planks and, in turn, labor costs are typically lower.
Wood Color and Grain
The first thing homeowners may think of when deciding on types of hardwood flooring is the overall color. For a light and airy look, they can turn to paler woods, such as ash and maple. Hickory and oak add warmth and should work for a room that needs a medium wood shade. For those who prefer a darker wood color, mahogany and walnut provide a dark, rich tone. Each type of wood varies in price range, with oak and hickory on the lower end and mahogany on the higher end.
Wood grain also affects the price. Plain-sawn planks, with the grain running across the plank in a wavelike pattern, are the most affordable. Quarter-sawn and rift-sawn planks, which have the grain running in lines down the length of the board, are more expensive. Some wood types, like oak, have a tight and highly visible wood grain, while others, like white ash and acadia, have a variation of grain patterns and contrast.
Wood Style and Pattern
The different styles and patterns available for hardwood flooring affect the overall cost. Wood-look tile ranges from $15 to $20 per square foot or approximately $900 to $2,900 for a total installation. This isn’t actually hardwood but tile that looks like wood flooring. Though more expensive than wood, it’s much more durable and rot- and warp-resistant in potentially damp places like basements. Herringbone wood flooring patterns add 30 percent to the installation cost. A herringbone pattern is created by installing the planks at an angle, resulting in more waste and a longer installation. Traditional parquet flooring costs $20 to $45 per square foot if installed piece by piece. Today, it’s more common to buy parquet-style flooring kits with premade wooden tiles that look like the classic parquet design. These kits can run $7 to $15 per square foot or $15,000 on average.
The standard thickness for wood flooring is 3/4 inch, which can cost up to $6 per square foot. Some hardwood flooring can be found as thin as 5/16 inch, but this can make refinishing more difficult down the road. Solid 3/4-inch planks can be sanded and refinished up to 10 times. Thinner boards are more affordable at $2 to $5 per square foot, but they can’t be sanded as much and will not stand up to repeated refinishing.
The harder the wood flooring, the longer it takes to install. Exotic hardwoods, like teak and Brazilian walnut, have a longer installation time than softer woods, like pine. Angled and intricate patterns such as herringbone require more cuts and result in more flooring material waste, which drives up the cost. Complex room layouts or rooms with counters require more installation time and raise the hardwood flooring cost. On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $3 and $9 per square foot for labor, or about 50 percent of the overall cost.
Another major cost factor in the price of hardwood flooring installation is geographic location. Prices can vary across the country; for example, in New York hardwood installation costs between $2,370 and $6,080, but in California those costs rise to between $3,150 and $9,340. Prices in states that are closer to the center of the country are typically lower; for example, homeowners in Iowa pay about $3,580 to $4,900 on average. If the desired flooring material is not common in a particular region and needs to be shipped, the price may be significantly higher.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When homeowners are budgeting for hardwood flooring costs, there are usually additional price factors and considerations. Labor costs for hardwood flooring can run from $3 to $9 per square foot and can vary due to the type, width, and style of wood flooring being installed. Installing unfinished hardwood flooring, which requires finishing after installation, can lead to additional cost, as can repairing or replacing existing hardwood or subflooring, repairing floor joists, adding additional coating, or installing wood-look tile flooring.
Repair vs. Replacement
For homeowners who like the look of their current flooring, it may be possible to repair or refinish the existing hardwood flooring. But how much does it cost to refinish hardwood floors? Hardwood floor in good shape can be refinished to restore the luster it once had; hardwood floor refinishing costs about $1,800 on average. Solid hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Engineered wood can also be refinished, though fewer times. Engineered hardwood flooring refinishing costs between $3 and $5 per square foot.
Traditional vs. Engineered Hardwood
With engineered flooring, the base is plywood and the top is a finished wood veneer. Engineered flooring might not last as long as solid hardwood flooring, but it does perform well for a more affordable upfront cost. For homeowners who are looking to spend less on wood flooring, engineered flooring is a lower-cost option. Engineered wood flooring has superior durability and moisture resistance and can range in price from $4.50 to upwards of $16 per square foot depending on wood type. On the lower end of the price range are wood boards that have three core layers and a veneer that’s between 1/16 and 1/12 inch thick. In the midrange are boards that have a five-layer core and a thicker veneer. At the top end, some engineered flooring has seven or more core layers and a 1/6-inch-thick exotic hardwood veneer. Some of the most popular engineered flooring options are maple, heart pine, white ash, bamboo, Brazilian cherry, Brazilian koa, and acacia. One of the biggest benefits of installing more expensive solid hardwood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times, which means that for many homeowners, it’s likely to be the only flooring they’ll have to buy for their home.
Floor Joist Repairs
Repairing a subfloor costs around $500 to $800, and if the joists also need repairs, homeowners can expect to add another $40 to $60 per square foot. This may be necessary if there is extensive rot, moisture, or insect damage. Goodell advises, “When your floorboards start to creak more than usual, are not even, or doors begin to stick, you know there must be a problem either with your subflooring or floor joists.”
Finish and Coating
To extend the durability of wood flooring, homeowners can add a coating of a protective seal called a finish. Finishes are typically made from polyurethanes or prefinished UV-cured urethanes, oils, or oil hybrids. Finishes applied and cured in a factory are usually more durable than ones applied after installation. The big bonus of using prefinished wood flooring is that residents can walk on the flooring directly after installation without having to wait for the coats of finish to dry. Prefinished hardwood flooring costs an extra $2 per square foot. Installing unfinished wood flooring can raise the labor costs an additional $2 to $7, since the wood will need to be finished after installation.
Alternative Flooring: Wood-Look Tile Flooring
Installing wood floor alternatives such as wood-look tile flooring runs anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot. Wood-look tile is tile flooring that has the appearance of wood. It’s more expensive to install than wood flooring, but it’s more resilient and is resistant to rotting and warping. Another popular option is parquet-style tiling, which costs about $7 to $10 per square foot.
Types of Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood floor costs can vary due to the type of wood used in the floorboards. Each type has different ranges in color and price. Renowned for their rich tones and durability, exotic woods and wood from tropical areas are more expensive than the more cost-friendly domestic woods. The following are some of the most commonly used hardwood species and their associated costs.
The average cost for maple flooring runs from $3 to $6 per square foot. Dent resistant and good for high-traffic areas, maple can range in color from white to pale red.
Pine is usually the cheapest of the wood flooring types, commonly running from $4.50 to $10 per square foot. It’s known for the rustic knotty patterns in the grain, with colors ranging from light beige to a rich golden amber. The downside of pine is that it’s on the softer side and dents easily.
The main benefit of sustainable bamboo is its extreme hardness and durability; bamboo flooring costs between $5 and $11 per square foot. The color can run from pale yellow to green.
White ash flooring averages $9 to $13 per square foot. It can range in color from soft, light tan to pale gray, with either visible knots or a clear grade without color variations or imperfections. It’s worth noting that white ash can be difficult to stain.
Hickory flooring can cost from $6 to $13 per square foot. It has notable color variations and, because it’s hard and durable, is a great option for high-traffic areas.
The average cost for red oak flooring is between $8 and $13 per square foot. It has a reddish, tightly visible grain and is exceptionally durable. Red oak flooring is known for creating a warm and welcoming ambiance in any room.
White oak flooring ranges from $8 to $15 per square foot. Despite its name, it’s darker in color than red oak and has brown and yellow undertones. White oak has a minimal smooth grain and lends itself to more modern home decor.
Brazilian walnut flooring runs from $11 to $20 per square foot. An exotic hardwood, it’s extremely hard and durable but is expensive to install.
The cost of cypress flooring averages $8 to $18 per square foot and can run between $4 and $8 per square foot for labor. Cypress is a relatively soft wood that will take on a distressed and aged look when used in high-traffic areas. It has an arching, swirling grain and is honey-gold in color.
Engineered Heart Pine
While engineered hardwoods typically cost less than true hardwoods, engineered heart pine is a costlier and higher-end option than natural pine flooring. Homeowners can expect to pay around $10 to $11 per square foot for this material.
Engineered maple flooring costs about $10 to $12 per square foot and tends to be a more durable option than natural maple.
Engineered White Ash
Engineered white ash is another higher-end engineered wood option and costs about $12 to $13 per square foot.
Do I Need Hardwood Flooring Replacement?
The elegant beauty of hardwood floors can give way to noticeable wear and tear over the years. There are several red flags that indicate flooring replacement is in order.
One of the benefits of having hardwood floors is that they can be sanded and refinished again and again, but how often is too often? Floorboards are only so thick and can’t handle endless sanding and revarnishing. Too much sanding will result in thin and weak floorboards that could potentially crack. If the hardwood floors have reached this point, it may be time to replace them.
Scratches and Wear and Tear
Furniture that’s moved, daily wear and tear, and pets can cause scratches in wood flooring. A few scratches are expected, but if they cover a large area of the flooring or if they’re deep gouges, repair or replacement may be in order. If the wood flooring has chips and scrapes that penetrate deep into the wood, the flooring becomes susceptible to water damage due to the missing coating or varnish. Worn stain can lead to more serious issues such as splintered or warped wood, both of which call for a replacement.
Water damage is a common concern for homeowners with hardwood flooring. Engineered wood flooring is more resistant to water damage than solid hardwood, although both types of flooring can stain, warp, rot, and separate if exposed to significant amounts of water due to plumbing issues or flooding. Significant water damage is one of the main signs that wood flooring needs to be replaced. A telltale sign of water damage is cupping, where the center of each board has begun to dip.
Exposed nails that poke through the top of the flooring can cause pain and injury for anyone who steps on them. Nails usually pop up in high-traffic areas where the chances of stepping on one or stubbing a toe are high. If there are many exposed nails over a wide area of flooring, it may be time to look into hardwood flooring replacement.
The color of wood flooring may change over time due to sun exposure or water damage. This is especially noticeable if some parts of the flooring have been more exposed to sunlight than others. Superficial discoloration can be fixed with refinishing, but gray or very dark stains may be a sign water has damaged the structure of the wood and that the flooring needs to be replaced.
Creaking floorboards usually mean the wood is rubbing against the subfloor or itself and can be a sign that the structural integrity of the wood flooring is compromised and weak. Wooden floorboards that bend or creak can signal water damage or a shifting foundation. Hardwood floors that dip or swell are symptoms of larger structural problems.
Benefits of Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood floor in a home offers numerous benefits, among them adding to the overall value of the home and helping increase its marketability. Brand-new hardwood flooring can transform a home by providing a fresh new look.
Increased Home Value
Professionally installed hardwood flooring can last for generations. Both repairing and replacing wood flooring can raise the property value, making it a long-term investment. On average, the return on investment (ROI) for hardwood flooring is 70 percent to 80 percent, so the cost of hardwood floors is well worth it. This is true of both solid and engineered hardwood.
The cost to install tile floor or carpet may be lower than for hardwoods, but hardwood flooring can last for many more years without having to be repaired or replaced. Some scratches or dents are to be expected, but they are easily remedied with refinishing. Even this type of maintenance is usually necessary only once a decade or so.
Hardwood floors require relatively little maintenance. For general upkeep, they need weekly sweeping, vacuuming, mopping with one of the best hardwood floor cleaners, and occasional deep cleaning. It’s important to stay vigilant about spills and stains to keep them from penetrating the wood. Other precautions like using furniture pads will further extend the life of the hardwoods. When they do start to look dingy, a new wax coat or finish will get them back to looking like new.
Carpet may be comfortable and reduce noise, but even when cleaned regularly, it collects dust, dirt, and other allergens. Having hardwood floors may improve a home’s air quality, since dust is easily swept and mopped away without leaving a trace.
Hardwood floors are a classic option that never goes out of style. Even among various types of wood and finishes, most wood floors are compatible with any design style. If the homeowner decides that they want to change the look of a room or want a warmer finish, they can always stain the wood to their preferred shade.
Hardwood Flooring Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Hardwood floor installation is usually best left to the professionals. Improper installation not only looks unsightly, but the flooring can warp, split, and shrink. According to Goodell, there are myriad ways DIY installation can go wrong, including “damaging wiring or plumbing, not preparing the subfloors or slab properly, and not providing enough space when gluing or nailing the hardwood floors. The last one might be the worst of all, because the floors will look great initially, but as soon as the weather changes and the wood expands, it could ruin the entire installation.” Additionally, any problems with the joists or subfloor add an extra layer of complication that the typical homeowner may not be prepared to deal with.
Finding professional hardwood flooring contractors who know how to install hardwood floors correctly and have the proper equipment is worth the expense. Installing a hardwood floor goes beyond measuring and gluing or nailing down floorboards. A professional will know how to install the flooring correctly, how to allow for adjustments for humidity and temperature, and whether to use a vapor barrier. Professionals also have the skills to install custom patterns and exotic hardwoods as well as manipulate around features, such as fireplaces, closets, and counters. Homeowners who are looking to save money and want to try installing wood flooring themselves are advised to use an engineered floating floor; they’re much more forgiving than solid hardwood, and it’s easier to fix installation mistakes. But, as Goodell advises, “Unless you have thousands of dollars to risk, always use a professional.”
Hardwood Flooring Buying Tips
For homeowners who want to install hardwood floors in their home, the following questions can help them decide what type of hardwood flooring they need and how to estimate hardwood flooring cost.
- Where will the hardwood floor be located? Different locations need different types of hardwood flooring. Kitchens and entryways need harder wood to keep up with the high traffic level, while bedrooms and home offices are good locations for softer woods. Basements benefit from engineered wood flooring, which resists warping from water damage.
- What is the hardwood floor being installed over? If the hardwood floor is covering a flat and solid subfloor, any flooring will work—from nail or glue-down hardwood to click-together engineered strip flooring. If a new wood floor is being installed over existing wood flooring, thinner boards will work better. If hardwood flooring is being installed over concrete or tile, nails cannot be used, and it’s better to use click-together flooring or flooring that can be glued down. For homes with radiant floor heating, engineered flooring is ideal because it’s thinner and more stable than solid wood and will allow the heat to permeate the flooring without causing damage.
How to Save Money on Hardwood Flooring Cost
Installing hardwood flooring can be expensive, and the additional costs associated with installation can quickly add up. One way to save money is to install the cheapest flooring option, but there are other ways to save money and install affordable wood floor options without compromising on quality and style.
- Refinish instead of replace. The cost to refinish hardwood floors is significantly less than the cost to replace them. If there is no extensive water or structural damage to the wood flooring, consider sanding and refinishing to restore the existing hardwood floor.
- Shop around for the best price. While it may feel like a hassle, getting more than one quote and comparing prices could save hundreds of dollars on the overall price of the installation.
- Break the project into phases. Rather than replacing flooring in all rooms at once, consider having some work done now and saving up to finish the project at a later date.
- Consider wood species. Many homeowners start shopping for hardwood flooring with the flooring color in mind. Keep in mind that there are many species of wood and that each one varies in color and price.
- Consider grain. The way that the wood is cut affects the appearance of the grain and the hardwood flooring cost. Grain patterns that run across the plank are usually the least expensive, while grains that run down the length of the plank are more expensive.
- Consider the grade. Wood flooring that has been graded “clear” has a uniform color and lacks knots or other imperfections. The “clear” grading is the most expensive, and the price goes down according to the grade. Homeowners who don’t mind a more natural character to their wood flooring can save money.
- Opt for engineered flooring. Solid hardwood flooring is typically more expensive than engineered wood flooring, but since some types of engineered flooring have high-end exotic veneers, the price can be similar.
- Do it yourself. For ease of installation, engineered wood flooring is recommended for homeowners with strong do-it-yourself skills and who are interested in tackling the entire project in order to save on hardwood flooring cost. Buying Home Depot flooring, for example, can also save money on hardwood flooring costs. However, for homeowners who want to save money but feel nervous about installing a hardwood floor, doing just part of the job can save some money. For example, a professional may charge a fee to rip out and dispose of the old flooring, but this can be a manageable task for homeowners to complete on their own.
Questions to Ask About Hardwood Flooring Installation
The cost to install flooring is not insignificant, so it’s essential to get the right person for the job. Asking a hardwood flooring professional some direct questions can help minimize miscommunication, save money, and get the desired results. What follows are some questions to ask contractors about hardwood flooring cost.
- Is there a fee for estimates?
- How long will installation take?
- Are you insured and certified?
- Do you have workers’ compensation?
- Is your work under warranty?
- Do you have references?
- What form of payment do you accept, and can it be made in installments?
- Are there any additional costs that could come up?
- Will you order the materials?
- What can you tell me about how any moisture, rot, or insect damage in the subfloor will affect the hardwood installation cost?
- Does the overall price include removing the old flooring?
- How is the old flooring disposed of, and is there an additional charge?
- Do I need to move the furniture before installation, or will you take care of that?
- Will I have to pay if you come back to fix a problem?
- Does my subfloor need any repairs before the new flooring is installed?
- Will you be responsible for cleanup?
- What is the acclimation process (the process of conditioning the floors to adjust to the home’s climate conditions) for this type of flooring?
Deciding on hardwood flooring and keeping the overall hardwood flooring cost down can be a daunting process. The following are some frequently asked questions about hardwood flooring cost to help guide homeowners in their decision.
Q. How much does it cost to install 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring?
Installing hardwood flooring costs between $6 and $12 per square foot. That averages out to $3 and $7 per square foot for materials and $3 to $5 per square foot for labor. An estimate for 1,000 square feet of hardwood flooring runs between $6,000 and $12,000.
Q. How long do hardwood floors last?
Some prefinished hardwood floors come with a 50-year warranty. With regular care, a solid wood floor can last twice that long. The average warranty on engineered wood floors ranges from 10 to 30 years.
Q. How do I maintain my hardwood floor?
It’s important to know the best way to clean hardwood floors so they last as long as possible. Spills need to be wiped up immediately, and furniture pads are recommended to reduce the potential for scratches and scrapes. Additional maintenance includes dusting or sweeping hardwood floors daily, vacuuming weekly to avoid scratches, and using wood cleaner monthly to keep floors shiny.
Q. When is the time to replace my hardwood floor?
It’s time to replace hardwood floors when there is visible water or structural damage. Other reasons to replace are when the wood flooring has been sanded multiple times, there are gouges and scrapes, nails are popping up through the flooring, there’s excessive wear and tear, or the boards creek or bend.
Q. Does hardwood flooring increase home value?
Hardwood tends to be the most desirable flooring for many buyers because it is durable, easy to clean, and elevates the look of the home. Return on investment (ROI) for installing hardwoods is between 70 percent and 80 percent on average.
Q. What type of wood is the most durable for flooring?
Harder materials like red oak, Brazilian cherry, and hickory tend to be the most durable.
Sources: HomeAdvisor, Angi, HomeGuide, Nerdwallet, Realtor.com