Solid hardwood floors in homes or business spaces offer naturally beautiful floors that last. Hardwood floor planks are milled from trees and have a long life thanks to their natural wear layer, which allows for sanding down and refinishing on average five or more times in a floor’s lifetime. When hardwood floors are maintained, they can last over 100 years. Flooring installation professionals can handle every aspect of the job from helping select the right wood for a particular climate, home and aesthetic to ripping out and disposing of old flooring, preparing the floor for the new install and securely installing the new wood.
Popular wood floor types include maple, oak, pine, red oak, white oak and walnut. Exotic woods, which are exotic either for their origin or their price, include acacia, teak and mahogany. It’s important to select a wood that’s appropriate for the climate, says Jake Olson of Nature’s Touch Flooring in Lakeville, Minnesota. In his region, oak works much better with Minnesota’s extreme temperature changes and high humidity than many of the exotic woods, which expand and contract too much with the heat and cold. Several factors affect the cost of installing hardwood floors.
Many floor installation professionals charge a basic cost per square foot that is independent of the materials cost. That cost can reflect local labor prices, the regional cost of living and other factors such as company overhead. It’s important to understand that a base cost per square foot typically does not indicate what the labor costs will be because most hardwood floor jobs require much more labor than solely laying down the planks. Base costs for different companies include different levels of services, so don’t assume that a lower base price from one company means the total project cost will be lower. Gabe Ghimbasan of Right Step Flooring in Hallandale, Florida, says overall costs can increase beyond base costs because of labor such as removing existing flooring, preparing the floor before the install, moving furniture (if it’s more than a piece or two), and other time- and material-consuming tasks. Here are two examples of base installation rates:
Right Step Flooring: $1.75 per square foot
Nature’s Touch Flooring: $3 per square foot
- The materials cost for hand-scraped ¾-inch oak planks is $7 per square foot
Additional installation costs
The majority of jobs require more than the basic install rate, says Olson of Nature’s Touch Flooring. The work his company does includes removing existing flooring, sanding the bare floor, leveling it, adding transitions, retucking where the hard floor meets the carpet, and pulling out appliances and putting them back. Sometimes the flooring underneath needs to be repaired before a new floor can be properly installed. Here are some examples of additional costs:
- Basic install cost of $3 per square foot can range up to $7 or $8 per square foot when tear out and prep work is included.
Moving furniture: $75–$125 per room
Pouring concrete to bring the under flooring level before installing new flooring on top: $1,000–$1,500 for materials and labor
- If the under flooring needs concrete poured to ensure a smooth installation and the customer opts out, the installation pro may proceed without a warranty (with customer approval, of course), says Ghimbasan at Right Step Flooring. The company cannot guarantee the work on an unstable platform. Ghimbasan says clients having work done in rental houses sometimes opt out of the concrete pouring step because they don’t want to put a lot of money into it.
Type and grade of wood
The type of and grade of wood used directly affects the overall project costs. Specialty woods, such as teak or mahogany, can cost up to five times as much as standard woods like oak. Keep in mind that the materials cost can be low but the cost per square foot can still be somewhat high if a lot of additional labor is required to prepare the floor for installation. Here are cost examples for two projects from Right Step Flooring:
620 square feet of maple floors
~ $2,400 with five days of labor
¾-inch dark-stained maple installed on top of new concrete in three rooms, hallway and staircase
- Cost per square foot for total project: ~$3.87
1,800 square feet of mahogany floors
$16,000 with 10 days of labor
Mahogany installed in five rooms, hallway, staircase and master bedroom
Labor: ~$6,000; materials: ~ $10,000.
Custom work and additional labor to cut doors to specially fit, build the staircase, and install underlayment and plywood.
- Cost per square foot for total project: ~ $8.90