On national average, installing hardwood floors costs around $1.75 to $3 per square foot for basic installation. However, complications — like an uneven flooring, damaged underlayment, extensive prep or even expensive hardwoods — can increase this price dramatically, up to $9 or even more.
If your floor isn't level, the contractor may need to even out the subfloor that lays beneath the flooring. This can cost an additional $1,000 to $1,500, based on a national average. But the result is worth the cost: beautiful wood flooring improves the look of your home, feels marvelous under your feet and create a cohesive scheme that flows easily from room to room. Here's the breakdown of what installing new flooring may cost you.
What's in this cost guide?
- How much does hardwood flooring cost?
- How much does hardwood floor refinishing cost?
- How long does wood flooring take to install?
- How to hire a wood floor installer
- How to save money on installation
Based on a national average, hardwood flooring costs range from $1.75 per square foot to $9 or more, depending on how much prep work the installer needs to do. A lot of work goes into professional installation of hardwood floors: if your contractor must remove existing flooring, sand and prep the underlayment, retuck the transitions between flooring and carpet and move furniture or appliances, expect to see that basic installation rate increase. Of course, the type of wood used for flooring affects the cost, too: high-end materials like mahogany cost more as a base than sturdy but lower-end woods like oak or pine. Here's how you can expect pricing for your new floor and other cost factors to break down.
If you're installing solid wood flooring throughout a large home, you can expect to pay more for the installer's time. Most professionals charge per square foot — so installing hardwood flooring in a small, 500-square-foot living room will cost significantly less than replacing carpeting throughout a 2,000-square-foot home.
You don't want your shiny new hardwood flooring installed on a slope. (Trust us.) Getting your living space into hardwood shape may require leveling the subfloor, which is a rough surface that lays beneath both your underlayment and floor. If your underlayment and subfloor have been hiding beneath carpeting, damage is possible: mold or rot may be lurking beneath the surface, which may require additional labor (and cost).
If your subfloor isn't level, your contractor may pour concrete throughout the space to create an even surface. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500, based on a national average, for materials and labor if this is necessary in your space.
Not all floorings function the same — and the cost differences can be dramatic, too. Talk to your contractor about which type of solid wood may best suit your home. For instance, some woods dramatically expand and contract during temperature changes, leaving unsightly cracks during chilly seasons. If you live in the frigid north, you may want to pick a stabler wood.
Common picks are oak, maple and cherry. You may also be interested in trendy hand-scraped engineered hardwood for your flooring, or want to consider bamboo, mahogany, tigerwood or teak, or a number of other specialty woods. Your ultimate choice will likely come down to budget and decor. A common wood like maple may cost around $4 per square foot; a high-end choice like mahogany may come out to $9 per square foot.
Looking for an ultra-chic herringbone pattern? Want a parquet floor? Choosing complex wood patterns may drive up hardwood flooring costs — especially if you're pairing that desire with high-end flooring.
If your existing hardwood floors merely look a little schlubby, a complete revamp may not be necessary. Instead, consider refinishing your existing hardwood flooring. This process removes the scratches and cuts — common wood-floor features in homes with children, cats or dogs — and leaves behind a smooth, shiny surface. And as a bonus, refinishing is significantly less expensive, although if you're hoping to stain your existing floors you may end up paying a bit more. Based on a national average, here's what you can expect to spend:
|Floor Size||National Average Cost|
|100-250 square feet||$600|
|251-500 square feet||$750|
|501-750 square feet||$1,601|
|751-1,000 square feet||$2,100|
|1,001-1,500 square feet||$2,350|
|1,501-2,000 square feet||$3,500|
|2,001-3,000 square feet||$5,000|
Solid hardwood flooring needs to be acclimated before installation — that means pallets of hardwood planks may sit in your living room for up to a week. During this time, the wood adjusts to the moisture content of your home's air, preventing unsightly expansion or contractions.
Once the hardwood is acclimated, expect the actual hardwood floor installation to take a few days. You can save time with pre-finished hardwood planks, which are sanded and stained at factories before installation.
Most flooring contractors will be more than happy to provide a free estimate for your project. While they're on-site, they can get an idea of the scope of work needed: Will the floor need to be leveled? How much effort will tearing out the existing hardwood flooring entail?
Find your flooring contractor.
The bill for hardwood flooring installation may seem worryingly high, but rest easy: Your home will look marvelous once it's finished. If you're hoping to trim a few dollars off the final price, there are a few things you can do:
- Move furniture yourself: Contractors may charge between $75 and $125 to remove furniture from a room. Save them time and save yourself money. Deal with the furniture yourself.
- Pull up the carpet: Does a room need de-shagging? Pulling up the carpet can save your contractors time — although be careful. Old homes may have asbestos beneath carpeting. Testing can reveal this problem before you start tugging.
- Choose a cheaper wood: Teak or mahogany may look stunning, but they're not easy on your wallet. Common mid-range woods like oak or maple are perfectly sturdy — so if you're tight on cash, consider downgrading.
- Install hardwood floors where it counts: Use hardwood flooring as an accent, supplemented by cheaper options like tile flooring or vinyl flooring.
- Do it yourself: Installing your own hardwood floor isn't too difficult, but it's a large project for the average do-it-yourself-er. Make sure you pay careful attention to the evenness of your flooring, and don't be scared to consult professionals if you're struggling.