Wood flooring cost is a very important factor to consider before hitting the store to choose samples. The price you pay will depend on different things.
This article will show you the variables you’ll need to bear in mind that will influence how deep you need to dig into your pockets to fund your dream floor.
Wood Flooring’s Eternal Appeal
Like many people, you may love that wood flooring is classic, durable, and available in a lot of colors. Plus, it adds value to your home—making it a great long-term investment, especially when you decide to sell your house.
Unlike other types of flooring, wood can be refinished and repaired. The natural beauty of wood adds instant character to any room. Each piece features a unique color and grain.
You’ll love that wood floors are super easy to maintain. A weekly sweeping provides proper maintenance. Also, you have the option of dry mopping or vacuuming the floor.
On occasion, you may need to do a deep clean. Stain and odor resistant, wood is a great option—especially in comparison to carpet.
For those with allergies, carpet can be more a nuisance than an asset. But, wood flooring is eco-friendly. It won’t irritate allergies in the way carpet can.
Also, wood is a renewable resource so it’s better for the environment. Your ears will adore that it enhances the acoustics in the room. Movie night will be so much better.
The Lifespan of Wood Floors
Wood floors can last for decades. Professionally installed, high-quality wood that has been put in and finished correctly will go the long haul.
This is especially true if you care for the floor properly. High-traffic areas are no match for wood flooring. Your hallway, kitchen, and dining room are perfect places for wood floors.
Even when heavy foot traffic starts to get the best of your floors, you’ll be able to refinish them. Doing so will extend the floor’s life.
Isn’t it nice to know that you won’t have to replace your entire floor because of scratches and fading? Well-maintained wood floors can last fifty years. Try getting that type of longevity out of carpet or tile.
Measure for Wood Flooring
Break out your measuring tape or stick and measure your existing floor. Take notes and start calculating so you know how much you’ll need to buy.
To prepare your home for wood flooring you will need to get your measuring tape out. You’ll need to figure out how much wood you need to cover your floor. Divide your room into squares.
Measure the width and length of each area in inches. Break out the calculator and multiply the two measurements together. Doing this will tell you how many square inches are in the section.
Take that number and divide it by 144. This will tell you how many square feet are in the section. Add the sections together.
Next, round up to the nearest whole number. Now, add ten percent to account for waste and you’ll have an idea of the amount of wood you will need. This “cut allowance” takes into account the remaining scraps left over when the job is finished.
Cost to Install Wood Floors
Contractors calculate the cost of flooring based on the square footage. Installing wood flooring costs $4,125 on average. The average range most homeowners spend is between $2,311 and $6,115.
On the low end, you can expect to pay $1,200-$2,183 or $6 to $11 per square foot. On the high-end, you can expect to pay $8,357-$11,100 or $12 to $23 per square foot.
This price covers both materials and installation. Installation includes removal of the old floor, finishing, and trim.
The type of wood you select will also determine the price you pay. You have plenty of styles to choose from including solid and engineered.
The price of engineered wood varies greatly. Factors that influence what you’ll pay include the thickness of the top veneer and the number of layers of plywood under the wood.
Within those options are a variety of woods that range in strength and durability. The most expensive wood floors are stronger and more durable than other types of wood floors.
For example, Oak and American Cherry will run you $5 to $10 a square foot. More expensive options such as Brazilian Walnut and Mahogany will cost you $8 to $14 a square foot.
Ultimately, the type of wood and labor costs are the biggest driving factors in determining the price.
The cost of labor to install your wood floor will be a major factor to consider when putting together your budget. It’s best to use a contractor. Save the DIY stuff for easier projects. Creative Commons Installing a Hardwood Floor – Construction by Scott Lewis/ CC by 2.0
Labor Cost of Wood Flooring
Expect to pay $3 to $9 per square foot on average to cover the cost of labor when you hire a professional contractor. If you have floors that feature irregular shapes or vents, the price will be higher.
Labor costs will account for about 50% of the total cost of your project. Bear in mind that this price doesn’t cover the cost of delivery or material.
If you want more control over the quality, type, and style of your planks you can buy your own wood. But, it will cost you more.
On the other hand, if you let a professional handle the purchase for you, it won’t cost as much since pros receive flooring discounts.
Expect the unexpected—especially when it comes to house projects. Your contractor doesn’t know what he’ll run into until he starts working.
Typically, you’ll be given an estimate with a disclaimer saying you could incur additional costs. What’s lurking beneath your carpet and baseboards is as much a mystery to them as it is to you.
Especially is this the case with your subfloor, or area under the flooring. Your subfloor may not be flat enough. It may even be hiding moisture.
Whatever is revealed, it will have to be resolved at the source. Of course, this will involve more legwork and time, which costs more money.
If your contractor needs to even out your subfloor, you’ll be out of an extra $1,000 to $1,500. If your old floor needs to be removed and disposed of you’ll be charged.
Your contractor will also charge for little things you may not think about. He’ll tack on an expense for baseboards, which are charged by the foot.
He will also charge for vapor barriers. You’ll also need to fork over some cash to cover fasteners such as staples, nails, or glue.
While we’re on the subject of contractors, let’s talk about the importance of vetting them. Diligently check their references. Make sure that they have all the required licenses and insurances.
Detail the scope of work. Leave nothing out. Ask to be provided a detailed budget of the anticipated work.
Be crystal clear about the details of the work your contractor will perform. Then draw up a contract to document the agreement. It never hurts to have a paper trail should issues arise.
Once your budget has been established, and everyone is on the same page, get all the information in writing. Yes, you will need a contract that includes payment terms.
Get Your Estimates
Shop around for your contractor and get multiple bids. Estimates should be free. Your estimate will be prepared based on a division of labor and materials.
Additional costs may be itemized. When you get estimates, you want to avoid comparing more expensive types of wood against cheaper ones.
That would be like comparing the price of a Benz to a Kia. Save yourself the headache and get comparing estimates of similar materials.
When it comes to the estimate for labor, pay attention to the level of details used to outline the preparation and cleaning of the wood.
The cost of labor is a very important element in your decision of what to buy. However, there are other areas you should consider. Let’s take a look at a few of them below.
Colors and Style
Stains or coloring can play a big role in the brand you decide to use. The shade of grey you like in one brand will look different when produced by another brand.
Big name brands that carry more high-end products offer more expensive catalogs with greater color and style options to select. The finish of your wood flooring will be the biggest factor that boosts the price of the flooring from a style standpoint.
Smooth boards tend to cost less than hand-scraped planks. If you want to get fancy and install flooring that has been designed by artisans you’ll pay a premium price.
Length & Width
The wider or longer the plank, the more you’ll pay for it. If your budget is on the smaller side, it’s better not to go beyond a standard size plank.
Avoid extremes in width to keep costs down. A standard size such as the one pictured above is better for your budget.
The width of the plank can vary. It could be as modest as two feet or as head-turning as eight. It all depends on the look you prefer.
Bottom line, if the look you desire requires more wood to be produced, you will fork over more money.
Quality is king. In terms of importance it’s right up there with air. Solid wood tends to hold its own in this department in comparison with engineered flooring.
Considering that solid wood flooring is milled from a piece of timber, you don’t have to worry about the integrity of its structure being compromised unless rot and moisture get to it.
As engineered products become more popular, you’ll find that you have to search to find a reputable brand that carries quality wood flooring.
There are too many unknown brands from small companies that produce engineered wood that may or may not be up to snuff. Check the warranty.
You’ll have a better idea of the level of quality of the engineered wood. Several products carry separate guarantees that cover general wear and structural defects.
Planks that come with a lifetime guarantee do cost more. Less expensive ones may only offer coverage for 15 to 25 years.
Now it’s time to think about how thick you want your floors. Thick, solid wood flooring lasts longer, but it costs more.
If you decide to use engineered flooring, you’ll also need to focus on the veneer. You can only refinish engineered flooring if it has a thick veneer.
The thickness can vary from 1mm to 8mm on premium products. In general, anything around 2mm or less shouldn’t be sanded.
The species of the wood refers to the type of tree that was used in your flooring. Domestic and exotic are the two main classifications you’ll encounter. Hickory, Red Oak, and White Oak, are the most common domestic trees used in flooring.
They are durable and affordable. Maple and Walnut are on the higher-end. Ash, Beech, Birch, and Cherry can be found at various price points. Domestic species will run you around $4 to $9 per square foot.
Exotic wood originates from regions outside of the United States. This wood is more costly. Unique planks such as Tigerwood can inject an interesting look into any room.
Rosewood, Santos Mahogany, Brazilian Cherry, Wenge, and Teak are also popular options. These woods can be cheaper when crafted from engineered wood. Expect to spend $5 to $15 per square foot for exotic species.
If you’re looking for durability, consider a wood such as bamboo. It comes in a variety of hues from light tan to dark espresso as pictured above.
You should also take into account the durability of the wood flooring you select. Bamboo, Teak, Oak, and Brazilian walnut are the most durable woods.
But they are more expensive. Below is a breakdown of what you can expect from various woods in terms of price and characteristics.
Types of Wood Flooring
Ash Hardwood Flooring
Durable and tough to stain, ash is a type of hardwood that boasts a delightful range of coloration from soft tan to light gray to dark brown.
It features a bold grain like oak. White ash hardwood displays this distinctive feature quite well. However, it is more expensive. Expect to pay $12 to $13 per square foot for engineered White Ash.
Acacia Hardwood Flooring
Eco-friendly, acacia wood boasts a very low carbon footprint. Its coloring is medium to dark. This wood flooring option works well in homes that feature a classic or contemporary aesthetic.
Expect to spend around $2.90 to $5.25 per square foot for this type of flooring.
Bamboo Hardwood Flooring
Bamboo technically isn’t considered a true hardwood, but it carries many traits that hardwoods do. It is known for its water resistance and durability.
Plus, it shows fewer imperfections and scratches in comparison to other types of hardwoods. Let’s not overlook one of its best selling points.
It’s termite-resistant. Plus, it comes in many colors with interesting patterns. The pricing for bamboo is in the $2 to $6 per square foot range.
Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Flooring
Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring has become a popular option for many because of its rich, gorgeous coloring. The wood is soft.
So you’d be advised against installing it in family rooms and kitchens. Yet, this elegant hardwood would make a beautiful addition to a bedroom. Expect to spend around $4 to $7 per square foot.
Cypress Hardwood Flooring
Cypress is durable and stable making it a great all-around option for wood flooring. You’ll appreciate that it is termite-resistant.
Feel free to use it in any room of your house. It will cost you around $3 to $6 per square foot.
Hickory Hardwood Flooring
Hickory can take a beating. It works well in high-traffic areas such as stairways. This durable wood features amazing grain patterns.
Hickory would be an excellent option for stairs, hallways, or other high traffic areas. It’s as beautiful as it’s durable.
Also, it brings exceptional color variation to the table. However, it does have different looks between its planks so it’ll be hard to find uniform flooring.
But, you can get a distressed finish which will lessen that sporadic look. Prices are within the range of $3 to $8 per square foot.
Maple Hardwood Flooring
Made popular due to its natural, light coloring and polished surface, maple flooring has a medium-density and is considered to be harder than pine and oak. Perhaps you’ve noticed it in gyms and studios.
This sturdy wood is dent-resistant. It would make a wonderful addition to your home in high-traffic areas such as hallways. Maple comes in a variety of colorations ranging from white to a light red tone.
The average cost of maple falls within the range of $3 to $6 per square foot. Engineered maple is more expensive and usually goes for $10 to $12 per square foot.
Mahogany Hardwood Flooring
Mahogany is known for its deep reddish-brown coloring. This rich-looking hardwood is a popular option.
It looks regal in formal dining and living rooms. It has an elegant presence due to the depth of its color and grain. This luxurious looking wood costs an average of $6 to $8 per square foot.
Oak is very popular. It boasts a high level of durability and a beautiful grain finish. How could you not fall in love with its deep patterns, rich detailing, and earth tones?
Red oak and white oak are the options you have if you decide to go with this type of wood. Expect for Red oak flooring to be in the range of $2 to $6 dollars per square foot.
White oak is a bit more expensive. In addition to being water-resistant, it is highly durable. You can use it in the bathroom and kitchen.
Oak is a great flooring option for high-traffic areas that get exposed to moisture on a daily basis such as a kitchen.
These wet, high-traffic areas are perfect for this type of wood. Expect for it to fall within the range of $5 to $8 dollars per square foot.
Pine Hardwood Flooring
Pine is a softwood and catches dings easily. It will not do well in areas where it can get scratched.
Another inconvenient truth about this beauty is that it is the most challenging to refinish. The good thing about pine is that it is captivating.
You can find it in warm tones in ranges of amber to beige. Rustic knots throughout the plank create a charming, lived-in vibe. Expect to spend $2 to $4 per square foot for this flooring.
Teak Hardwood Flooring
Teak is known for its timeless, elegant style. Plus, it’s durable and resistant to discoloration and scratches. You can expect to spend within the range of $8 and $13 per square foot.
Tigerwood features bold black stripes in its grain. This type of wood is durable. Plus, it creates a strong statement in any room. Tigerwood will cost within the range of $5 to $7 per square foot.
Walnut Hardwood Flooring
Walnut flooring has beautiful grains and a deeper, richer stain than many other hardwood options. This durable wood includes American Walnut and Brazilian Walnut.
It’s a great flooring option if you have pets or active kids. It is an exotic wood choice so it will cost more to install. However, it offers enough visual stimulation that could justify the price.
You’ll find that it comes in various shades of exotic browns and features a distinctive grain. Walnut flooring will fall within the range of $6 to $10 per square foot.
Styles of Wood Flooring
While we’re talking about types of wood, we should also lay out the different styles of wood flooring. The way a floor is laid will have a big impact on the overall look and tone of your room.
Herringbone Pattern Hardwood
Herringbone pattern installations feature a contemporary zigzag pattern. Wood glue and nails are used to secure the wood in place.
Extra material is usually required to cover mishaps that can happen during installation. On average, you can expect the price of Herringbone flooring jobs to fall within the range of $4,800 for a 300 square foot room.
Parquet offers a striking design that’s perfect for those who appreciate a more creative and modern look. Creative Commons Varnishing Hardwood Parquet by Chris RubberDragon/ CC by 2.0
Parquet flooring uses small wood shorts to fashion geometric patterns. The end result is a high-end contemporary look.
You’ll want to use a seasoned contractor for this type of flooring installation. Intricate details shouldn’t be placed in the hands of newbies. You can expect to pay about $3,500 for 300 square feet installed.
Plank Wood Flooring
Plank wood flooring is the gold standard for installations. Traditionalists love this look. The planks are normally uniform in thickness.
However, they can be installed in a variety of lengths for those who crave more of a unique look. Longer strip and wider plank flooring will drive the cost for installations up due to the use of extra material costs. You can expect to pay about $4,500 for standard 300 square feet installations.
How to Lower Wood Flooring Costs
There are ways to bring down the price of wood flooring without compromising your standards for quality or stylistic preferences.
Armed with the right knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to choose a less-expensive option that suits your needs. Some areas to consider that will help you cut costs are listed below.
1. Consider the Wood’s Grain
The way the wood’s grain appears depends on the way the wood was cut while at the sawmill. The appearance of that grain will determine its price.
If your money is tight, go for a plain-saw cut as it is least expensive. The grain runs across the board, in patterns that appear wavelike.
If you can afford to spend more money, opt for a rift-sawn or quarter-sawn cut. This look displays the grain in lines that run down the length of the planks.
2. Get Rid of Your Old Flooring
Save money and rip out your old flooring yourself. You’ll need to find a way to get rid of it properly.
But it can be a great way to cut costs. If you don’t do it, your contractor will and he’ll charge you for it.
3. Opt for Refinishing Over Replacing
If you really love the look of your existing floor, then why not refinish it? It’s cheaper and you’ll be able to take a worn-looking wood floor and transform it into a thing of beauty.
Refinishing a floor is much cheaper than replacing one. You’ll need to break out your sander and put in a few hours of work, but it’ll be worth it if you’re on a tight budget. Floorwork II: The Edging by Nate Vack/ CC by 2.0
You’ll need to put in some elbow grease. The floor will have to be sanded. You’ll also have to add a fresh coat or two of finish to the flooring.
If you have solid hardwood, you’ll need to go through the refinishing process multiple times. However, engineered wood doesn’t need to be refinished as many times.
4. Select the Right Grade
It turns out grades are just as important in wood flooring as they were when you were in high school. Wood is graded by its physical characteristics.
Planks that lack knots and wormholes and that offer uniform color are graded “clear”. Wood that has a natural look receives the designation of “select.” This means that it has knots, color variations, and mineral streaks.
A “No. 1 common” grade isn’t as high-quality. It will have more color variations and knots. Also, it could have some wormholes.
“No. 2 common” is similar to No. 1 common except that it has a more rustic look. For the most part, you’ll find that wood graded clear costs more per square foot than select.
Select is more costly than common grades. However, when there are sales, you may be able to find deals that allow you to pay less for clear wood than select wood.
5. Shop According to the Species
Different species of woods offer a variety of colors and shades. If you have a thing for light-colored floors you may gravitate toward ash or maple.
But, if you’re more of a fan of medium-shade floors then oak or hickory may be up your alley. Lovers of dark-colored floors will appreciate the richness of mahogany or walnut.
Each species comes with its own price range. Mahogany is on the higher end, while oak and hickory aren’t as expensive.
If you want to go for a high-end look that drips richness, then consider mahogany. As seen here, this beautiful wood compliments different styles of decorating. African Mahogany-Bronze by Boa-Franc/ CC by 2.0
6. Decide on Solid or Engineered
You’ll need to decide whether you want to install solid or engineered wood. Solid wood is the result of cutting a plank straight from the tree.
Engineered wood has a veneer of hardwood that sits on top of several layers of plywood. The layers are created and positioned in such a way as to prevent any warping or bowing of the wood after it gets exposed to moisture.
Therefore, this type of wood is moisture-resistant. Both types of wood feature various qualities. You’ll have to do your homework to determine which type will be best for your budget.
Engineered Wood Costs
You will find that installing engineered wood typically costs $6 to $11 per square foot. But this is on the low end. The higher-end has prices that range between $12 to $23 per square foot.
But this is for exotic woods. Some of the most popular engineered wood species include oak, maple, and hickory.
Within these different species, you will also come across different finishes. So you’ll need to decide whether you want your floor to have a gloss, matte, or semi-gloss finish.
Take the time to select not only the type of wood you’d like but also the finish you prefer. If you like a weathered look such as pictured above, you should stick with matte. Sample finish by Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Is/ CC by 2.0
To install engineered wood, your contractor may use one of the most common installation methods referred to as floating. However, he could also use the gluing method.
If he chooses floating, then he’ll attach or click the panels. Doing this will block out moisture. If your subfloor is tile or cement, then floating will be the preferred method. It can also be used on a floor with radiant heat.
The great thing about engineered wood flooring is that in addition to being moisture-resistant, it offers increased durability. So if you have pets or little ones running around your house, engineered wood could be the best option for you and your family.
This modern alternative to solid wood can be installed on any level of your home, including the basement. Although it is durable and strong, you should avoid installing it in areas that have excess moisture. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding humidity and underlayment.
Solid Wood Costs
On average you will find that solid wood costs $7.80 per square foot. The materials typically cost $3.80 per square foot while the installation will run you $4.00 per square foot.
The method most often used to install solid wood is to nail it down. Just be aware that in order to perform this method, your home must have a wooden subfloor.
This can drive up the cost if you don’t have one in place already. After your wood is installed, you won’t be able to see the unsightly nails.
Using nails to install solid wood is popular because when it is done correctly, your boards will be secure for decades to come. Who doesn’t love a long lifespan?
Another perk of solid wood is that if a plank becomes damaged somehow, you can fix it many times. You also have the option of replacing it without worrying about messing up the surrounding floorboards.
The downside is that you will pay more to have solid wood installed with nails than you will for engineered wood options. However, at least you can rest assured that this type of floor can be restained and refinished many times.
You’ll be able to reap the benefits of solid wood for a lifetime. Wood flooring retains its value and beauty over the years when it is properly installed and well-maintained.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.