While there are over a dozen types of flooring you can use throughout your house, only a handful actually add value to your home. Hardwood flooring is the top option if you want to increase the price of your abode, and it’s not nearly as expensive as it used to be thanks to a new breed of engineered products.
Whether you want solid hardwood flooring or prefer engineered planks, deciding to install hardwood flooring in your home isn’t something to take lightly. Our guide will walk you through all the important factors that come into play with hardwood flooring prices while touching on the price of installation as well.
Types of Hardwood Flooring
Consumers have been able to purchase flooring in various forms for decades, from sheet laminate to vinyl tiles and click-lock PVC planks. With hardwood, you have two choices as you can use solid hardwood flooring in your home or purchase an engineered product.
Hardwood Flooring Cost Factors
Choosing a type of hardwood for your home can have a lot to do with the cost of installation, but it’s not the only factor you need to consider. The areas below all affect hardwood flooring prices, regardless of how it’s made.
This is where a lot of homeowners can have their heartbroken. Species refers to the type of tree that’s used in your flooring, and there are two main classifications with Domestic and Exotic species. The most popular domestic trees used in flooring are Red Oak, White Oak, and Hickory.
All three are considered affordable and durable, whereas Walnut and Maple tend to be more expensive. You can also find flooring made from Cherry, Beech, Ash, and Birch at various price points. With domestic species, expect to pay around $4.00 to $9.00 per square foot.
Any wood that’s listed as “Exotic” comes from outside the United States and is more expensive. These unique planks can bring some interesting options to the table, however, like the incredibly durable IPE or Tigerwood.
Other popular options include Brazilian Cherry, Santos Mahogany, Wenge, Teak, and Rosewood. While it can be difficult to impossible to find some exotic species in solid hardwood form, engineered boards are easier to track down and cheaper. Prices for exotics start at around $5.00 but can exceed $15.00 per square foot.
After you consider the cost of which species you’ll use, it’s time to think about how thick you want your floors. Solid hardwood flooring that’s ¾” thick is going to last a long longer than flooring that’s only 3/8” thick, but you’ll have to pay more. On average, you can usually give ¾” planks a “major” sanding at least 3 to 4 times if you have significant surface damage.
With engineered flooring, the thickness also affects the price, but it’s the veneer you need to focus on – not the overall thickness. Only engineered flooring with a thick veneer can be refinished, and how thick the veneer or wear layer varies from 1mm to 8mm thick on premium products. As a rule of thumb, anything under 2mm can’t be sanded, and you may be pushing your luck at the 2mm range as well.
Length & Width
Bigger isn’t always better, especially if you are on a tight budget. Hardwood flooring prices are affected by this rule, and it’s something you’ll have to seriously consider when browsing through extra wide planks.
Hardwood flooring can range from around 2 ½” to over 8” wide, depending on your needs and preferences. There has also been an influx of engineered and solid boards that are longer than usual, which also increases the overall price. Simply put, if more wood is required to produce the planks, they will be more expensive.
Colors and Style
Stains or coloring won’t have a big impact on prefinished wooden flooring, but it may play a part in which brand you choose. Grey Oak planks from the Home Decorators collection are going to look completely different when compared to the same style of Grey Oak boards from Kährs. Larger brands with more expensive products usually have more expensive catalogs with more colors and styles to choose from.
The biggest factor that raises the cost of hardwood flooring from a style standpoint would be finishing techniques. Smooth boards can be less expensive than hand-scraped planks, and you’ll need to pay a premium if you want flooring that has been weathered by artisans the old fashioned way. Whether you prefer your planks sanded and smooth or full of knotholes in a rustic grade, there’s an option for you as long as your budget can handle it.
Quality is always important with any product, but it isn’t as much of a concern with solid hardwoods as it is with engineered flooring. Solid hardwood flooring is milled from a piece of timber, so there’s no chance of structural failure unless moisture and rot take hold.
For every solid hardwood manufacturer, there are a dozen companies making engineered products. That means quality control is something you don’t want to take lightly, especially considering the number of unfamiliar brand names and small companies producing this style of hardwood flooring.
The warranty will give you a good idea of the quality of engineered flooring, and many products have separate guarantees for structural defects and general wear. As you’d expect, you’ll pay top dollar for boards with a lifetime guarantee, while cheaper planks may only be warrantied for 15 to 25 years. With solid boards, the warranty generally only applies to the factory wear layer or finish.
Hardwood Flooring Cost
As you can see, a variety of factors can affect the price of engineered or solid hardwood flooring. Before you think about whether you want to install floors yourself or hire a professional, it’s important to understand how much the material will cost. While there are too many styles and species for us to list, our table covers the most popular options from brands, both big and small.
To know how much flooring you’ll need for your project, you need to find the square footage by multiplying the width and length of the room. It’s also important to keep the waster factor in mind as well, so always order a bit more flooring than you’ll actually need for the job.
¾” x 2 ½”
$4.39 sq. ft.
½” x 7 ½”
$4.00 sq. ft.
¾” x 5”
$5.99 sq. ft.
Rodeo Drive Gucci
½” x 5”
$5.49 sq. ft.
¾” x 2 ¼”
$2.63 sq. ft.
5/8” x 4 ¾”
$4.89 sq. ft.
¾” x 3 ¾”
$6.59 sq. ft.
5/16” x 5”
$3.79 sq. ft.
Hardwood Flooring Installation
Now that you know some of the key factors that go into the price of hardwood floors and how much your flooring may cost, it’s time to talk about installing hardwood flooring. Compared to tile or sheet-based flooring solutions, we feel that hardwood flooring is a DIY-friendly option. Some species are harder to work with than others, which means a professional could be a better option depending on your needs.
The Cost to Install Hardwood Flooring Yourself
What you’ll need to install hardwood flooring depends on the type you choose. Tools are required for both engineered and hardwood flooring that you may not have in your garage, but engineered flooring is the easiest option by far. The majority of these floors also use a click-lock system, which allows you to piece boards together like a puzzle although glue is an option as well.
With solid hardwood flooring, the planks have to be secured in place. That involves nails, which means you will need to rent an air compressor and at least one nail gun unless you own one. You can nail planks into place by hand or use fastening systems, but a flooring nailer will save your back and shave hours or even days off the project. Drill bits are also required for woods that rank high on the Janka scale like IPE.
Tools of the Trade
Installing solid hardwood may be completely different than putting down engineered flooring, but some of the tools you’ll need stay the same across the board. A vapor barrier or underlayment is something you can’t do without unless you want your new hardwood floors ruined by moisture. While typically inexpensive, price varies by quality and can range from $50 to $200 per roll.
Both styles require a saw, so you’ll need to acquire a circular or miter saw. Anything that can make a clean cut through ¾” wood will do the trick, although ripping a board can be easier said than done. You’ll also need a speed square or straight edge, measuring tape, pencil, and a few other inexpensive tools. For engineered boards, an adhesive may be required as well if you don’t pick up planks with a click-lock system.
Are you installing hardwood throughout your home or just in one room? That can make a major difference on how much you’ll need to spend on additional accessories. Adding a new register in one room isn’t that bad, but if you want wooden grates throughout a 2,800 square foot home, it is going to get expensive.
Grates are just one overlooked expense that homeowners may forget, but you also have to consider baseboard, trim, and transition strips from room to room. While it’s impossible to put an accurate price on those items, you can expect to pay between $200 to $2000 on “extras” like molding, floor grates, and wooden transitions strips.
Hardwood Flooring Installation Problems
The biggest thing that keeps homeowners from installing hardwood flooring themselves are issues with their existing floor. It could be as simple as carpet that needs to be removed before you can install hardwood or more complex like mold or bad joists.
If you have a bad subfloor in your home, the old has to come out, and new plywood has to be installed before flooring can be put down. It’s not necessarily an easy process, and if you have to hire it out, it can run between $300 to several thousand dollars. Leveling a floor is inexpensive if you can get by with a few bags of a self-leveling product whereas mold remediation will set you back thousands.
While those are just a few common issues you can encounter, you aren’t going to know what you are dealing with until you remove your current flooring or begin prepping it for hardwood installation. It’s also important to consider time, as you could end up having to temporarily relocate if you run into problems that can’t be fixed quickly. Having to take extra days off work for what was “supposed” to be a weekend project isn’t ideal, and neither are hotel rooms.
Professional Hardwood Flooring Installation Cost
One advantage of hiring a professional to install hardwood flooring is the fact they can handle everything from start to finish. They can give you a price that includes the flooring, transitions and even remove and haul off your old flooring.
Have an issue with your subfloor? They can deal with that as well, along with any other issues that tend to appear during the floor installation process. Depending on the contractor, you may or may not get a detailed estimate that shows what you’re paying for labor and materials. In our research, we found that most consumers pay an average of $6.50 to $9.00 per square foot for engineered hardwood flooring installation.
With solid hardwood flooring, prices start at around $8.00 per square foot, including materials and the average labor cost although it largely depends on the species and thickness of the flooring. Labor could be up to half of the price, and neither of our estimates takes into account “extras” or any subflooring repairs. Those may be included in the price of a professional installation or broken down separately in your contract.
Best Places to Purchase Hardwood Flooring
You can find engineered flooring locally from Lowes, Home Depot, Floor & Décor, along with stores like Menards and Lumber Liquidators, depending on where you’re located in the United States. All the big retailers generally have a “store brand” or two, along with larger brands like Cali Bamboo, Armstrong, and Shaw. The options are even more expansive online when you factor in flooring stores and sites like Wayfair, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.
Solid hardwood is harder to find through larger hardware stores, although Lowes and Home Depot both carry a number of lines. Flooring stores are your best option for solid hardwood locally, but online there are countless options to choose from. It may be the only way you can find Tigerwood flooring that’s 8” wide, but wood is heavy, and shipping isn’t cheap, so keep your budget in mind.
We hope our guide helped clear things up for you when it comes to hardwood flooring prices and the installation cost. Both solid and engineered products will provide you with a nice return on your investment, and can outlast other styles of flooring by decades when properly maintained. If you’re not sure whether solid or engineered hardwood is the right choice for you, be sure to check out our hardwood flooring buying guide!
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Q: Does hardwood or engineered flooring need to acclimate?
A: Yes, but how long depends on the type of wood and the manufacturer. Expect to have the flooring sitting out for 3 to 7 days before installation.
Q: What is the hardest flooring I can buy?
A: With domestic or affordable species, that would be Hard Maple. For exotics, there are several tough woods, but Brazilian Walnut and Teak are two of the most common.
Q: How much extra hardwood flooring do I need to account for waste?
A: That depends on the product as we’ve seen some budget-friendly boards listed as high as 15%. In most cases, you can expect 5 to 10% for waste.
Q: Is it cheaper to buy unfinished flooring?
A: It can be, but the savings may be insignificant by the time you actually finish or stain your flooring on-site.