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Cost of Hardwood Flooring

how much does hardwood flooring costDon’t let your remodeling budget go over-board by hidden surprises – understand what the average installation costs for Hardwood flooring is near you by using our handy calculator.

As an experienced licensed home improvement contractor, I know first hand what it should cost for various levels — from Basic, Better, and of course the best.

The Hardwood flooring cost estimator will provide you with up to date pricing for your area. Simply enter your zip code and the square footage, next click update and you will see a breakdown on what it should cost to have Wood Flooring installed in your home.

HardWood Flooring cost Calculator
Zip Code Sq. ft.
Basic Better Best
Material Prices $390.00 – $420.00 $480.00 – $515.00 $585.00 – $675.00
Installation Cost $105.00 – $110.00 $130.00 – $150.00 $165.00 – $175.00
Total $495.00 – $530.00 $610.00 – $665.00 $750.00 – $850.00
Average Cost to install hardwood flooring per square foot $5.13 $6.38 $8.00

How Much Does Hardwood Flooring Installation Cost?

Hardwood flooring installation costs on average $6.75 per square foot for basic materials and installation. However, this doesn’t include: site preparation, sub-flooring fixes, baseboard removal and jogs in the room. Expect to pay an additional fee of $1-3.00 per square ft. for additional work.

Fewer flooring options offer the versatility and longevity of wood, and the good news is — it’s more affordable than ever. Priced from $6.75 to $23 per square foot installed, both traditional and engineered hardwood flooring come in options for every budget range. Nationwide, the average cost to install 1000 square feet of hardwood floors to your home is about $8750, including labor and materials — each contributes 50% of the total cost.

Traditional HardWood Flooring Costs

Hardwood flooring comes in two distinct varieties — solid, or traditional, and engineered. What’s the difference in construction, price and installation cost?

Traditional hardwood planks are all wood. They’re exceptionally durable and with proper care can last a century or more. Because traditional wood is vulnerable to moisture damage, however, it’s not suitable to install below ground or in areas of your home where humidity is high like a bathroom or kitchen. Exposing traditional hardwood to water or steam can cause it to swell, buckle or grow mold.

Solid Hardwood flooring cost range from $2–$16 per square foot — most homeowners opt to spend spend between $8 and $12 for a mid-grade product. Prices vary significantly by wood type and quality. From the lowest to highest, expect to pay $1350 and $11,500 for wood flooring depending on your choices.

Traditional Hardwood Types

Hardwood flooring cost is loosely divided into three categories: Low, mid and high.

Low-priced choices are typically softwoods like pine. Costs average $2-$6 per square foot, but its affordability doesn’t mean it’s low-quality. It simply commands a lower price because it grows fast, it’s readily available, and it requires less processing before heading to market.

Soft flooring is prone to dents and scratches, so for homeowners with pets and kids, it may not be the best choice. Still, others believe the lived-in look it develops over time adds to its aesthetic appeal.

Mid-priced hardwood flooring is the most popular choice. Varieties include:

Wood Flooring Type Flooring cost Per Sq. Ft.
Labor cost Per Sq. Ft.
2″ 1/4 plank width.
Oak $2.50 – $6.50 $2 – $4
Maple $4.50 – $9.25 $2 – $4
Hickory $3.75 – $7.35 $2 – $4
Cherry $3.50 – $7.50 $2 – $4
Teak $3.25 – $4.75 $2 – $4
Ash $2.75 – $4.25 $2 – $4
Bamboo $4.25 – $7.50 $2 – $4

Harder than pine, mid-priced planks are damage-resistant. At $6 – $10 per square foot, they’re an excellent choice for heavy-duty applications from kitchens to high-traffic entryways.

High-priced hardwoods are less common and run $10 per square foot or more. Many are imported, so the cost of transportation adds to the price. Choices like mahogany and walnut are famous for their beauty and sustainability, while exotic species such as kempas, cypress and tigerwood are valued for their rarity.

Traditional Hardwood Quality

Hardwood is natural — its grain and character marks define both its look and quality.
Character marks include:

Knots

Knots are dense, round spots that form in tree where branches meet the trunk. “Sound” knots are attractive and smooth. The knots in utility hardwood may have chunks of wood missing that affect the integrity of the flooring.

Wormholes

Worms leave marks as they work their way through trees. These can look like holes or tunnels. In floor grade lumber, they should be no more than 1/4-inch wide.

Streaks

Streaks are bands of color caused by mineral and sap deposits within tree rings. They affect only the look of wood, not it’s integrity.

Most hardwood flooring in the United States is graded according to standards developed by the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) and promoted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).Grading is similar to that used for all hardwood lumber, regardless of its purpose, but more emphasis is placed on appearance versus other quality factors such as hardness.

Hardwood Floor Grades include:

Cabin Grade

Cabin grade flooring is inexpensive but sturdy. It’s ideal for applications where the durability of hardwood is desirable, but a finished look isn’t required. Cabin grade flooring is the most rustic in appearance with deep knots, streaks and wormholes. Bundled lots of this so-called “utility” flooring may contain many unusable boards, so the proportion of waste is higher. Consider cabin grade flooring for playrooms or workshops.

Clear Grade

Taken from the heartwood of the tree, Clear Grade wood is free of heavy character marks, and the grain and color are consistent from board to board. Clear grade flooring is costly, but it creates a smooth, uniform look for a living area or library. Engineered wood manufacturers use it for veneers.

Select

Like Clear Grade, Select Grade planks are free of most imperfections. Cut from both heartwood and sapwood, expect slightly more variation in grain and color. Although it’s easier to mill than Clear Grade, Select Grade wood still accounts for less than 15% of a given tree, so it’s typically bundled with clear grade and sold to make veneers.

#1 Common

Common Grade wood is the most popular for flooring for both it’s character and price. Planks rated #1 have more character than Clear and Select Grades but without the knots and wormholes found in Cabin Grade. For homeowners who want an organic yet finished look, #1 Common Grade is ideal.

#2 Common

Wood rated #2 Common Grade is slightly more rustic than #1 Common — it retains much of the quality of tree from which it came. Variations depend on the type of wood, but knots and streaks are common. It’s the perfect choice for country décor, and it’s ideal for families — dings and scratches fade away against its irregular pattern.

Traditional Hardwood Flooring Installation Costs

The average labor cost for installing hardwood flooring is $2 – $5 per square foot, in addition to the price of materials. Fees vary based on local labor rates and the complexity of the job.

Installing a hardwood floor requires:

  • Removing your current flooring
  • Installing a plywood substrate if one doesn’t exist
  • Dry fitting different boards to blend colors and grain
  • Installing trim and thresholds where your new flooring meets a door
  • Sanding and finishing unfinished hardwood

What can make wood flooring installation more expensive?

Installing a hardwood floor is straightforward, but stairs add to the cost because they require more cuts and nearly twice as much installation time as floors. Expect to pay $100 – $200 per step or $1000 for an average staircase.

Additional costs may include fees for moving large furniture, disposal of old flooring and floor finishing.

Engineered Wood Flooring Costs

Engineered wood planks are constructed with a multi-layer core topped with a thin layer of veneer. Core layers are made of durable but inexpensive wood while the top is made from high-grade lumber. The result is a product that looks as good as high-end traditional hardwood flooring but with a twist — it can be installed almost anywhere because it’s heat-, cold- and moisture-resistant.

The number of times engineered wood can be refinished correlates to the thickness of the veneer – the thicker it is, the more often it can be done. Better engineered woods can be refinished up to 10 times — with regular care, that’s more than a lifetime for some homeowners.

Engineered Wood Flooring Types

Engineered wood can be topped with virtually any veneer — the sky’s the limit. Expect to find as many choices as with traditional planks, and because select high-end veneers cost less than comparable solid wood boards, luxury woods may more affordable.
Popular choices include:

Maple

colors range from soft ivory to vibrant red, and the look is uniform. Prices run $9 –$12 per square foot.

White Ash

colors vary from light gray to warm blonde with variations in grain but few knots or holes. White Ash is tougher to engineer, and that’s reflected in the price of $12–$14 per square foot — that’s 25% more than all-wood White Ash planks.

Brazilian Cherry

colors are a blend of reds and browns with bold streaks. At $3 – $6 per square foot, it’s beautiful and economical.

Heart Pine

valued for its vintage charm, heart pine has an antique look. Colors range from almond to red with knots, and it’s priced at $7– $10 per square foot.

Engineered Wood Flooring Quality

Like traditional hardwood, engineered flooring is roughly grouped into one of three quality levels.

Low-priced options feature three inner layers with surface veneers measuring 1/16 –1/12-inch thick. Depending on the type and quality of wood used for the veneer, prices range between $3 – $6 per square foot. Brazilian Cherry and Acacia are popular selections.

Mid-priced choices have a five-layer core with a slightly thicker veneer. Prices range from $5 – $10 per square foot with oak and maple being top choices.

High-end options are top of the line with six or more layers and quality veneers as thick as 1/6-inch. Costs range from $8 to $15 per square foot for choices such as ash, and select species of walnut and mahogany.

Engineered Wood Flooring Installation Cost

Installation fees are comparable for both traditional and engineered wood — $2 – $3 per square foot because, in most cases, the process is the same. However, engineered flooring is factory finished and uniform — the quality control is high, and less time must be spent dry-fitting boards — cutting down on labor hours.

Hardwood and Engineered Wood Finishes

Traditional hardwood and engineered wood are similar in most ways, including material and installation costs, but for some homeowners, the choice could come down to finish.
Hardwood floors come both finished and unfinished. Finished flooring comes pre-stained and covered with a protective polyurethane topcoat — just install it and go.

Unfinished wood is less expensive, so it’s an attractive option if you’re on a budget or if you have an old-world finish in mind.

A polyurethane is harder than oil, so it’s more resistant to scuffs and stains. Oil, however, offers a more natural look that’s easy to maintain. A quick coat over nicks and scratches makes them disappear – unlike polyurethane, there’s no sanding or buffing required.

All engineered wood flooring comes pre-finished, but like tile and vinyl flooring, the choice of finish is yours. Choose from matte, semi-gloss or gloss.

Hardwood Floor Costs vs. Other Materials

Wood is not the least expensive flooring, but it’s cost-competitive, and it’s among the best long-term values.

Compared to wood flooring at $8750, consider the average prices for installing 1000 square feet of alternative materials:

  • Carpet — $900 – $2600

It’s inexpensive, warm and quiet, but it requires more maintenance and has a shorter lifespan.

  • Tile — $3250 – $4100

Tile is durable and water-resistant, but it’s loud to walk on and feels cold underfoot.

  • Vinyl — $790 – $2900

Vinyl is warmer and easy to clean, but it lacks the multi-dimensional depth and longevity of wood.

  • Wood Laminate — $1500 – $3800

Wood laminate flooring is durable, easy to install, and it comes in as many color choices as hardwood, but the lifespan is limited to about 30 years, and it can’t be refinished.

  • Bamboo — $870 – $1800

Bamboo looks like a wood floor, and it’s popular among millennial homebuyers for its sustainability, but it delicate compared to hardwood and scratches easily.

How to Save Money on Your Hardwood Flooring Project

Wood floors are challenging to install, so it’s a job best left to professionals. But for the budget-minded, there are ways to save.

  • Avoid furniture moving fees by doing it yourself.
  • Save on both labor and materials by choosing unfinished flooring and add the topcoat yourself.
  • Avoid “bargain” lots of irregular wood — the waste can be significant, offsetting any savings.
  • Shop around online and at local discount flooring stores to get the most competitive pricing for your budget. Pick it up yourself or ask for free delivery.
  • You’ll save on labor and disposal fees by removing and disposing of your old flooring. Homeowners can use local landfills for free — contractors have to pay by the ton.
  • Floor tile in homes built before 1980 could contain asbestos. A contractor can test flooring for you and recommend remediation services if necessary.
  • et at least 3-5 estimates before hiring a Wood Flooring contractor — estimates are typically free, unless it’s a service call for a repair.
  • Expect the Wood Flooring prices to fluctuate between various companies – each and every company have different operation expenses and over-head.
  • Try to get prices in late Fall, early winter – you should expect aggressive pricing discounts by waiting for a contractor’s down season.
  • Try to budget and additional 7-15% more on top of what our calculator gives out – I.e; difficult configurations, patterns, etc. The additional complexity of your Walls and sub-flooring, trim work will add to the Hardwood Flooring cost.
  • Visit every supply house that sell your particular brand of Wood Flooring and try to negotiate a better price with each supplier – I save on average 20%.

Final Thoughts

Hardwood floors are not only beautiful, but they’re also easy to maintain, and they can add up to 2.5% to the value of your home. It’s a worthwhile long-term investment.

View Other Flooring Costs and Options: From Vinyl, Hardwood, Laminate, and Carpet Styles

  • Vinyl & Laminate
  • Hardwood & Engineered
  • Carpet & Tile

References:

  1. The HUD PATH Rehab Guide Volume 5: Partitions, Ceilings, Floors, and Stairs U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research.
  2. American Society of Professional Estimators, — How to Estimate the Cost of Commonly Used Flooring Systems.

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