Solid hardwood flooring—not laminate or engineered wood, but solid all the way through—is both a premium addition to homes and a rarity. Fewer homeowners choose to install solid hardwood, motivated both by marketing efforts from manufacturers and by the fact that engineered wood tends to be easier to install and maintain. Still, the allure of solid hardwood is strong. The flooring material may be costly, but it holds up for decades, remaining a testament to its long-lasting qualities.
Professional solid hardwood floor installation can be worth the cost. Consider that installers work quickly and they understand the complexities when it comes to laying hardwood flooring. By contrast, you will likely be learning as you go, which could extend the time it takes to install the floor.
Per 100 Sq. Ft. Room
Per Square Foot
|White Oak (Natural Finish)||$1,200 to $1,450||$12 to $14.50|
|Maple (Natural Finish)||$1,470 to $1,800||$14.70 to $18.00|
|Walnut (5 in. Wide/Toasted Wheat Finish)||$1,500 to $1,630||$15 to $16.30|
|Birch (Tobacco Brown)||$1,300 to $1,580||$13 to $15.80|
|Cherry (Natural Finish)||$1,810 to $2,210||$18.10 to $22.10|
|Cabreuva||$2,000 to $2,150||$20 to $21.50|
|Red Oak (Natural Finish)||$1,100 to $1,350||$11 to $13.50|
|Kempas (Natural Finish)||$1,600 to $1,960||$16 to $19.60|
|Tigerwood||$1,650 to $2,015||$16.50 to $20.15|
|Black Acacia (Tinted Taupe)||$1,360 to $1,700||$13.60 to $17|
Unless you are skilled at floor installation, it still may be more cost-effective to hire pros. For example, one well-known national home improvement store charges about $156 per week for a 15.5-floor nailer, $140 per week for an air compressor, and $176 per week for a popular brand compound miter saw. It may take a week or more to finish a flooring project yourself. For a total of $476 per week, your tool rental costs could bring you nearer to the price you'd pay for a professional installation as each week you work on the project goes by—though purchasing prefinished hardwood flooring could help save you time on installation.
Additionally, pros know how to minimize the costs of inferior boards and wastage (meaning the extra amount of flooring needed to take care of end runs in a row of flooring boards) which could translate into significant savings. (Inferior boards are almost non-existent if you purchase engineered wood flooring.) Sometimes, wastage can be used in other ways with the installation; sometimes, it ends up cluttering your basement.
With the advent of fold-and-lock laminate and luxury vinyl plank, the art of do-it-yourself solid hardwood installation is becoming less popular. Still, it is possible to rent the three key elements of solid flooring installation—floor stapler, compressor, and miter saw—and install your flooring. Some homeowners may already own a miter saw, and outfitting it with a new combination blade, with between 80 and 100 teeth, will be the best way to get precision cuts.
But hardwood flooring is tough on miter saws. Even if you own one, consider renting one for do-it-yourself installation. While yours may be adequate for domestic hardwoods like red oak, it may not be powerful enough to withstand the strain of cutting rock-solid hardwood such as kempas.
The estimates below do not include engineered wood, a different product than solid hardwood. Engineered wood costs approximately 10 percent to 15 percent less than solid hardwood. For example, the do-it-yourself installation of solid kempas is around $12.50; engineered kempas would cost about $13.72 per square foot.
Per 100 Sq. Ft. Room
Per Square Foot
|White Oak (Natural Finish)||$800 to $1,200||$8 to $12|
|Maple (Natural Finish)||$1,120 to $1,370||$11.20 to $13.70|
|Walnut (5 in. Wide/Toasted Wheat Finish)||$1,100 to $1,300||$11 to $13|
|Birch (Tobacco Brown)||$940 to $1,150||$9.40 to $11.50|
|Cherry (Natural Finish)||$1,460 to $1,780||$14.60 to $17.80|
|Cabreuva||$1,610 to $1,790||$16.10 to $17.90|
|Red Oak (Natural Finish)||$730 to $900||$7.30 to $9|
|Kempas (Natural Finish)||$1,250 to $1,550||$12.50 to $15.50|
|Tigerwood||$1,300 to $1,600||$13 to $16|
|Black Acacia (Tinted Taupe)||$1,000 to $1,230||$10 to $12.30|
Flooring Removal and Remediation
These estimates assume that you do not need to remove any existing floor and that your subfloor is not concrete. Hardwood flooring distributors recommend adding a plywood underlayment as a moisture barrier when installing solid wood over concrete.
Even if the concrete does not appear to be leaking water (meaning no active leaks are coming through cracks), the concrete may still emit moisture which will wick up and create mold under the flooring.
All estimates include the cost of materials such as underlayment. In the case of professional installation, the total cost covers labor, as well.
For your convenience, prices are expressed both in terms of whole-room installation (100 square feet) and per square foot. The most variable cost will be that of labor since this tends to differ according to where you live and who you hire.
There's another good general rule of thumb for estimating floor installation labor costs. Take the purchase price of materials and add 50 percent of that cost to arrive at your total estimate.
Choosing Hardwood Wisely
It pays to know a couple of facts about hardwood choices. Here are a few that can help you make your decision:
- Red oak is consistently the cheapest solid hardwood flooring you can buy, closely followed by white oak.
- Domestic cherry and Brazilian cabreuva are the most expensive flooring materials.
- Incredibly tough woods such as those from South America especially Brazil will withstand damage from a pet's claws.
Homeowners Handbook to Real Wood Floors. National Wood Flooring Association.