How much does laminate flooring cost?
What are the cost factors?
How much does professional installation cost?
These are just a few of the many questions answered here in the most comprehensive and accurate Laminate Flooring Buying Guide available.
The topics covered in this guide are:
Here we go.
Laminate Flooring Cost Factors
Laminate flooring cost starts at less than $1.00 per square foot. That's cheap flooring! And you get what you pay for.
The top cost is over $4.00 per square foot. Quite a difference!
What explains the difference? These factors. They all play a role in the final cost of a laminate product.
There is no surprise here. You get what you pay for. 75-cent laminate is cheap stuff that might look good for 5 years with limited foot traffic.
If you don't want to replace your flooring that fast, expect to pay at least $1.50 per square foot. $2.25 and up is a better bet for durability.
Quality in laminate flooring is produced through a thicker wear layer, more durable cores and better locking systems that prevent separation and cupping. Some flooring is better due to coating and sealer that makes it resistant to moisture.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers give few details in their literature about the quality and dependability of the materials and design used in their laminate floor products.
But there is a way to understand the quality of the laminate flooring you are considering…the warranty.
Flooring warranties show what the manufacturer thinks of its product. A 15-year residential warranty with no commercial warranty is cheap. Expect to get 5-10 years out of the floor.
A combination of lifetime residential warranty plus a commercial warranty shows the flooring will be durable. Now you're talking about 15+ years of durability.
Whether Pad is Included
Attached pad, also called underlayment, adds 25 to 50 cents per square foot worth of value to the flooring. Pad on laminate planks reduces the potential noise made from hard shoes, dog's nails and dropped items. It also makes the floor slightly softer to walk on.
Note on pad: Attached pad is not a vapor barrier. When you lay laminate on concrete, put down separate vapor barrier with taped seams. This might be required by the flooring's warranty. It will definitely reduce moisture issues.
For the first few decades that laminate was available, the biggest disadvantage was that it didn't stand up to water. Wet-mopping was forbidden. Today's steam cleaners would have created a crisis.
Most laminate should still be cleaned with very little moisture – a lightly damp microfiber mop, for example, and a little warm water on a soft cloth for stuck-on messes.
However, the new generation of water-resistant/waterproof laminate handles wet mopping. There is even a laminate that can be steam cleaned.
Water resistance raises cost by 25 to 35 cents per square foot. True waterproof design adds up to $1.00 per square foot in value. It gives you more options for cleaning your floor too.
Note on steam cleaning: Laminate is non-porous, so bacteria and viruses can only reside on the surface. Damp-mopping and wet-mopping with a gentle sterilizing cleaner like a blend of water and white vinegar is sufficient to rid the floor of them.
There is no need to steam clean laminate in most circumstances.
Special Manufacturing Techniques
Cost is higher for laminate made to have more realistic woodgrain texture than standard laminate. The flooring might be called "handscraped" or "textured". One manufacturing technique is called "embossed in register", and labeled as EIR. This technique gives laminate the most realistic texture.
Who Makes the Flooring
Some sellers have lower prices because they make their own laminate – or at least they are the sole distributor of it. This eliminates "the middleman", so they can offer the flooring at a better price and still make a profit. Examples are TrafficMaster sold at Home Depot, Dream Home by Lumber Liquidators and AquaGuard exclusively only from Floor & Decor.
Laminate Flooring Prices
Alright, this is what you came here for, so let's look at pricing categories and what you get in each category.
Granted, our categories are arbitrary, but it is clear that each manufacturer makes laminate flooring at different prices to appeal to customers looking for cheap, good or premium laminate. It's the same way in every industry from furniture to appliances to automobiles.
Here is an overview table for quick comparison. It's followed by complete details.
$0.99 - $1.29
10-20years / None
$1.30 - $2.49
Up to Lifetime / Up to 5 years
$2.50 - $3.49
Up to Lifetime / Up to 15 years
$3.49 - $4.00+
Lifetime / Up to 15 years
$1.79 - $3.75
Up to Lifetime / Up to 15 years
Cheap Laminate Flooring – Up to $1.30 Per Square Foot
The cheapest laminate flooring starts at less than 60 cents a square foot. That's very inexpensive!
Here are the features you get and what you can expect from very affordable laminate.
Average Cost: $0.99 - $1.29/sq. ft.
Longevity: 5-10 years. Think of it like cheap carpet.
Selection: Poor. First, not all brands make cheap stuff. You won't find any Pergo, Mohawk or AquaGuard in this price range, for example. And those brands that offer very inexpensive laminate have less than 10 style/color choices.
Construction: This is often 7mm and 8mm flooring with basic construction with a thin protective finish that wears through quickly with heavy foot traffic. It can be scratched through by dragging heavy furniture or by a rambunctious dog of 75+ pounds with untrimmed nails.
AC Rating: AC3 – Residential only.
Water-resistant/Waterproof options: No
Warranty: Residential warranties of 10-20 years. No commercial warranty.
Best Use: Cheap laminate has many uses – Spruce up a home to sell. Install it in lightly used areas like a guest suite or vacation home. Put it on the wall as paneling.
Basic Laminate Flooring – $1.30 to $2.49 Per Square Foot
Most major brands make flooring in this range, mostly for residential use but a few with commercial ratings.
Average Cost: $1.59 - $2.29
Longevity: 8-12 years in the average home. If the home has no pets and a "shoes off" policy, and if care is taken not scratch or damage the flooring, it will probably last longer.
Selection: Very good. Much of the laminate sold at home improvement stores like Lowes, Menards and Home Depot and chains like Lumber Liquidators falls into this price range. But you'll find this grade of laminate at most independent flooring stores and online sellers too.
Construction: Thicknesses from 8mm to 12mm are available, some with attached pad. General construction is decent, so there shouldn't be issues with the floor coming apart in the first decade.
AC Rating: Most has the residential-grade AC3 rating.
Water-resistant/Waterproof options: Two examples show pricing. Dream Home X2O by Lumber Liquidators starts at $1.79. Tarkett AquaFlor costs $1.99-$2.29. Most other laminate with water-fighting features cost more than $2.29 per square foot.
Warranty: Residential warranties of 20-30 years are common. Dream Home from Lumber Liquidators has a few 50-year warranties in this range. Pergo makes a few options at the upper end of this price range with a Lifetime residential and 5-year commercial warranty. Find them at the Home Depot and Lowes.
Note on warranties: Laminate warranties don't cover normal wear. If the protective layer wears through, that is NOT a warranty issues. Few laminate floors in busy homes look good after 15 years, even if it has a "Lifetime" warranty. Flooring makers largely use warranties as a marketing tool. The warranty covers manufacturing defects. Some basic-grade laminate warranties cover stains, but there are usually quite a few exclusions.
Best Use: Residential flooring when cost is a major factor in the decision. Basic laminate grades are ideal for bedrooms and other low-traffic and part-time areas such as cottages, cabins, guest apartments and man caves.Brands: The best options in this category include Dream Home, Select Surfaces, Quick Step Studio at Lowes, Tarkett at Menards and TrafficMaster at Home Depot.
Better Laminate Flooring – $2.50 to $3.49 Per Square Foot
This is the best-selling laminate flooring.
Average Cost: $2.69 - $3.29
Longevity: 15+ years in most homes when the Care & Maintenance instructions are followed. Expect 5-12 years in light commercial settings. It's durability will be determined by the volume of traffic and the general care it receives.
Selection: Excellent. This is where you will find the most styles. Browse smooth, textured, handscraped, embossed in register (EIR) in a full range of colors. There are options for all design plans – Rustic, traditional, Old World, contemporary, modern and more.
Let's talk about Shaw for a moment. While there are things we don't like about the brand, it's one of the few that offer mixed-width and long-board collections. And they are priced in this range. The mixed width lines have 3 widths: 3.5", 5" and 6.375". This gives the flooring a little more of a random or non-uniform appearance that many find appealing. The long boards are nearly 8 feet long while standard planks are about half that length. Long planks leave fewer seams, again another look that many like. There are more details in our Shaw Laminate Review and Buying Guide.
Construction: Most is either 10mm or 12mm. Some has attached pad. The wear layer is thicker for longer life without clouding from abrasion or wearing through.
AC Rating: There is a mix of AC3 residential and AC4 light commercial ratings.
Water-resistant/Waterproof options: This is the range where water-resistant flooring starts. See the Waterproof Laminate Flooring section below for more details.
Warranty: Residential warranties are 30, 50 and Lifetime. Those with commercial warranties range from 5-15 years.
Best Use: This is versatile flooring used in any residential setting. Laminate with AC4 rating is appropriate for light commercial space like retail, office suites and medical offices.Brands: This is the sweet spot for most major brands – Pergo, Armstrong, Mohawk and Shaw. Much of the Select Surfaces laminate from Sam's Club is in this price range. Some AquaGuard fits here too.
Best Laminate Flooring – More than $3.49 Per Square Foot
Just a few brands make high-end laminate, and it is usually just a few lines from each.
Average Cost: $3.59 - $4.19 per square foot.
Longevity: 15+ years when properly cared for. Durability is about the same as the last group. The quality is the same to slightly better. The cost is higher due to things like better woodgrain texturing, premium photographic layers and waterproof design. Some have thicker wear layers, so should last longer without wearing through.
Selection: The limited selection is mostly upscale handscraped and EIR styles. Armstrong Stones & Ceramics selection is one of the most interesting lines in this range.
Construction: A lot of these "Best" laminate has pad attached. Thicknesses are mostly 10mm to 14mm (with pad attached). There are a few thinner flooring.
AC Rating: Mostly AC4, but a few are just AC3 for residential use only.
Water-resistant/Waterproof options: Some options. Most actually costs less than these products.
Warranty: Mostly Lifetime residential warranties. Commercial warranties of 5-15 years. A few do not have a commercial warranty.
Best Use: Any residential setting and many light commercial uses.
Brands: The best selections in premium laminate flooring are from Armstrong, AquaGuard, Shaw (Repel only) and Quick Step NatureTEK. You won't find any Pergo, Dream Home or Mohawk (or other brands) in this category.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring – $1.79 to $3.75 Per Square Foot
This is a category that includes laminate that is best described as "water resistant" as well as options with genuine waterproof technology.
Average Cost: $2.49 - $2.99 per square foot. A few lines cost less. Shaw Repel starts at $3.10.
Longevity: 10-15+ years. Quality ranges from good to very good. Traffic and care of the floor are huge factors in how long it lasts.
Selection: From 5 to 30+ styles per brand, so you shouldn't have trouble finding flooring that will fit your design scheme.
Construction: There are two types.
AC Rating: AC3 or AC4
Warranty: Mostly Lifetime residential warranties. Commercial warranties are 5, 10 or 15 years on those laminates that have one.
Shaw Repel has the worst warranty of the leading brands of waterproof flooring: 30-year residential and no commercial warranty. Yet, it's the most expensive. In short, it is not a good value.
Best Use: This flooring is designed for areas typically "off limits" for laminate. These include bathrooms, laundry rooms and areas below grade like basements and lower levels of tri-levels.
Our Best Waterproof Laminate Flooring Guide has comprehensive details on the best brands. It includes a discussion of the technology each uses and pricing for all water-resistant/waterproof brands.
Cost of Accessories and Supplies
There is more to laminate flooring installation than just the planks.
This section discusses accessories and supplies and when you need each of them. Plus, of course, their costs.
Foam Underlayment / Laminate Pad
What is it: Thin foam padding, often polyethylene or polypropylene. It may be combined with a vapor barrier (see next product).
Why is it used: It is part of every laminate job. Some products come with underlayment attached.
The foam pad has several purposes. It adds a little bit of cushion to the floor for comfort. It also has a small insulation value and helps muffle noise. Choosing an underlayment with added noise reduction is essential when installing laminate on upper floors.
Also, most laminate flooring is floating, meaning that it isn't fastened to the subfloor. When it heats up and cools down, it expands and contracts. Without the pad, this movement would slowly but surely damage the underside of the laminate, leading to damage.
Cost: 30-70 cents per square foot ($0.30-$0.70) depending on its thickness and whether vapor barrier is included
Vapor Barrier / Moisture Barrier
What is it: This is a type of underlayment that forms a waterproof barrier when properly installed and taped at seams.
Why is it used: Whenever laminate flooring is installed over concrete, a moisture barrier must be placed between the two materials.
This is because concrete allows the transfer of moisture through, for example, a slab foundation or basement floor. If moisture reaches the underside of most laminate flooring, it will cause swelling, staining, cupping, plank separation and other forms of damage.
Some brands make their own barrier. Pergo Gold at 60 cents per square foot is one example. Most is less expensive.
Cost: 15-80 cents per square foot. ($0.15-$0.80). Underlayment at least 6 mils thick should be used. The more expensive types are combination pad and vapor barrier.
What is it: A narrow length of plastic, lightly crowned or slanted on top. It sometimes has a slot on one or both sides where flooring planks fit.
Why is it used: When two types of flooring come together, like laminate and carpet or tile, a transition strip covers the seam.
Some strips are reducer strips. One side is higher than the other. Reducer strips are used when the two floor materials are not the same height.
Cost: 60 cents to $2.25 per linear foot.
Stair Nosing / Bullnose
What is it: Nosing is the little piece of laminate that extends over the front edge of a stair tread.
Some laminate brands make their own nosing to exactly or closely match some of their flooring products.
When is it used: On stairs only. This video shows you what it is and the basic installation method.
Cost: $1.50 - $2.75 per linear foot.
What is it: Adhesive used to glue down pieces of laminate.
When is it used: On laminate stair treads and when installing laminate on walls and ceilings.
Cost: $6 - $9 per tube.
What is it: Waterproof sealer
When is it used: A few waterproof laminate floors like Pergo WetProtect must be sealed with silicone around the perimeter of the floor. The warranty requires it for full waterproof protection.
Cost: $5 - $10 per tube.
Expect to pay $2.00 to $3.25 tops for laminate flooring installation labor.
Here's how that breaks down in most projects:
Removing old flooring: 35 to 75 cents per square foot for laminate, vinyl, wood and carpet. Tile costs up to $4 per square foot. If you have tile, ask if the laminate can be installed on top of it. This is possible in most cases when the tile is in decent condition and level.
Flooring Installation with Trim: $1.75-$2.50 per square foot. The more open the floorplan is, the lower on the range the cost will be.
Stairs: $60-$100 per stair. That's a lot, but the work is time consuming. For a short set of 3 stairs, expect costs to be close to $300. For a full flight of stairs, cost will be $750 to $1,200.
Here are sample jobs using the factors discussed above.
Full Two Story
Full Ranch Home
First Floor - Open Plan
Bonus Room - Open
Is DIY Laminate Flooring Installation an Option?
Many handy homeowners lay their own laminate.
This section isn't a "how to install laminate flooring" guide. Those are available from all the major manufacturers – written, illustrated instructions and video tutorials.
This is an overview that will help you decide if you want to take on the challenge.
There is an easy part and more difficult parts.
The easy part is installing the planks, aka the flooring field. Most laminate flooring planks have cleverly designed edges that easily lock together with surrounding planks.
The manufacturer's instructions make it clear and give tips on how to stagger rows, align the pieces and click or tap them into place.
But wait, some say, isn't installing the planks 90% of the job? Yes – in terms of square feet of flooring. In terms of time, it's about half the time.
The challenging parts pre-installation are:
- 1Measuring accurately to have enough flooring. The amount should include about 5% overage for trimming, waste and having spare planks for future repairs.
- 2Choosing the right molding pieces like transitions between flooring types.
- 3Planning the layout of the flooring for optimal aesthetics.
Difficult parts of installation are:
- 1Properly spacing first planks away from the wall to allow for slight expansion. Most brands make spacers, or your retailer can sell you universal types.
- 2Preparing the first pieces along a wall. Many brands require that you cut off the tongue part of the tongue & groove design. Directions and videos are available.
- 3Preparing the last pieces along a wall. Again, instructions are available.
- 4Stairs. Even pros don't like stairs.
Now, here are our recommendations:
You should consider DIY if you are:
You should consider DIY if you are:
Some homeowners start with a small project – a spare bedroom or a storage area guests rarely see. It's a good way to determine whether DIY laminate flooring is your cup of tea.
Best Places to Buy Laminate Flooring Online
Selection, comparison and price are better when shopping online.
So, what are your best options? Here are the 5 best places to shop for laminate online.
- 2Floor and Decor
- 3Build Direct
- 4Home Improvement Stores
Wayfair sells 10 million products from more than 10,000 suppliers, and there's plenty laminate flooring on the site.
A recent search turned up almost 400 results for laminate flooring on Wayfair.
Brands sold include a lot of Shaw and Armstrong products plus Mohawk ($$), Kronoswiss ($$$), Branton ($), Montserrat ($$), Elesgo ($$$) and Mannington ($$-$$$).
An unusual find was some gorgeous parquet laminate ($$$$) from Quick-Step
Search filters include Styles (Wood Look, Tile Look), Species (all you can think of and more), Gloss Level (Low, Medium, High), Thickness and Cost including a Min to Max option.
There are fewer reviews than on Amazon, but they're useful.
A way that Wayfair is better than Amazon for shopping for laminate is the You Might Also Need section that shows you transition strips and nosing.
2). Floor and Decor
AquaGuard is sold exclusively at Floor and Decor, and we think it is one of the top brands available.
There are local Floor and Decor stores in some parts of the country, so you might be able to order online and pick it up locally or can have it shipped to your home.
Search filters include AC Rating, Color, Finish, Thickness and Clearance.
3). Build Direct
This large retailer of building materials sells a lot of laminate. About 130 options are available.
As with other sites, you can view it by Best Seller, Priced High to Low and Priced Low to High.
Brands are Lamton, Montserrat and Dekorman.
The most useful Search Filters include Pad Attached, Water Resistant, Color, Texture, AC Rating, Sample Available, Brand and Price with Min to Max.
We also like that Build Direct offers helps such as Laminate Reviews, FAQ and Vinyl vs Laminate sections.
4). Home Improvement Chain Stores
You can shop and buy online at Lowes, Home Depot and Menards.
Have flooring shipped to your home or order and possibly save on shipping charges by picking it up at the store.
You'll find common filters on each including Brand, Style and Price with Min to Max functions.
In our opinion, Lowes offers the best online shopping experience followed by Menards.
We've mentioned Lumber Liquidators, which mostly sells house brand Dream Home.
No surprise that this behemoth makes the list.
But what we don't like about Amazon is that all kinds of products related to laminate flooring populate the search results for laminate.
These include fasteners, underlayment and cutting tools. There are far more "Sponsored" results than not, so sorting through the results can be a time-consuming hassle.
Complaints aside, you can still browse a lot of laminate flooring on Amazon.
Brands sold include Armstrong, Kronoswiss, Pergo, Quick-Step, Elesgo, TrafficMaster and Mannington.
Search filters include Department, and selecting that filter weeds out some of the accessories.
Other filters are Keywords (Plank, Locking, Stone, Distressed, Rustic, Hardwood, etc.) and Price with a Min to Max option.
Reviews and Q&A are very useful, but it's getting harder to determine which reviews are fake and which are real. Fakespot.com can help.
How to Find a Quality Laminate Flooring Installer at a Fair Price
Get estimate from several installers with a track record of quality installation: That's the key to getting your laminate installed correctly at a reasonable cost.
One option is to make a list of flooring installers in your area, and start researching them.
- 1View their website to learn about their experience and whether they are licensed installers
- 2Check Google, Yelp and Better Business Bureau Reviews to weed out installers with low ratings
- 3Narrow your list to about three that you want to interview personally
- 4When you reach them, ask about the experience of the crew, not just how long the company has been in business
- 5Get written estimates from flooring installers you believe will do a good job
- 6Hire the company with the right combination of experience and price
That approach typically takes two weeks to a month.
There is an approach that is faster and more convenient
Use the Free Estimates tool on our site.
You will receive estimates from three qualified installers in your area.
Much of the work has been done – The flooring contractors are pre-screened to be sure they are experienced, licensed and insured.
Review their estimates, qualifications and experience, questions you have and choose the installer you believe will do a great job.
This approach often takes a week or less.