Laminate flooring is a durable, manufactured product made to look like real hardwood, stone or tile. Some laminates are also textured to add to the look of the "real thing." Laminate flooring tends to be quite durable and can be more scratch-resistant than some natural products. Flooring contractors install laminate flooring to ensure long-term enjoyment and durability. Using a contractor is a good idea, especially if the installation site has any irregular angles or if the subfloor needs to be prepped or repaired prior to installation. Most professionals can also remove existing flooring and haul away used materials—sometimes for no additional charge, though you should be sure to ask.
Labor and materials
Typically, laminate floors cost $3–$8 per square foot, including installation. Costs for the flooring material itself start as low as $1.50 per square foot. Most contractors and flooring retailers that offer installation services charge a flat fee based on the total square footage of flooring to be installed. Laminate flooring is often less complicated and time-consuming to install than hardwood because it clicks together and can be installed over existing flooring rather than needing to be glued to the subfloor—thus, installing laminate is likely to cost half as much as installing hardwood in the same space. Materials costs will run 30 percent to 70 percent more for hardwood than laminate.
Most flooring contractors can make repairs to the subfloor if they are discovered while pulling up existing flooring. Most pros will charge an hourly rate of $50–$70 plus materials (such as plywood) to make repairs.
As with any home remodel or improvement project, there’s always the chance of running into cost overruns. Some contractors will agree on a fixed-cost project fee upfront for floor installation. Otherwise, it’s not uncommon to see cost overruns of 7 percent to 15 percent higher than a contractor’s original estimate—especially if the space where the floor is being installed has irregular angles or curves that require custom cuts. On the other hand, many contractors offer volume discounts to clients who have more than one space that needs flooring.
- Some licensed contractors offer workmanship warranties on installation, and most good-quality laminate flooring is covered under a materials warranty. As you might expect, higher-quality, more expensive products generally carry longer warranties.