Solid Hardwood Flooring Costs: Professional and DIY Installation

Installing Wood Flooring
Installing Wood Flooring. Getty / Sollina Images

Solid hardwood flooring--not laminate, not engineered, 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 sheer fact that engineered wood tends to be easier to install and maintain.

Still, who can argue with the allure of solid hardwood?  It is a flooring material that has been used for centuries, and in many cases, is still in place and working, a testament to its long lasting qualities.

The two tables below list estimated costs to purchase and install basic types of solid hardwood flooring, both for the more common professional installation and the less common do it yourself (DIY) installation.

Professional Installation

Professional solid hardwood floor installation is well worth the cost. Consider this: these workers install, on average, one floor per day, maybe more. By contrast, you will do it once or twice in your lifetime.

Species

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, Home Depot currently charges $156 per week for a 15.5 floor nailer, $140/week for an air compressor, and $176/week for a Makita compound miter saw. For a total of $476/week, your tool rental costs bring you close to the cost of professional installation.

Additionally, with the more expensive species of wood like cabreuva or kempas, your wastage fees commensurately increase.  Wastage is the word for the extra amount of flooring you purchase in order to take care of end runs in a row of flooring boards.  It also absorbs the inferior boards that always come with solid hardwood installation (and yet another reason to buy engineered wood, as inferior boards are almost non-existent).  Sometimes, wastage is used in other ways with the installation; sometimes, it ends up cluttering your basement.

Do It Yourself Installation

With the advent of fold-and-lock laminate and luxury vinyl plank, the art of do-it-yourself solid hardwood installation is becoming a rarity.  Still, it is possible to rent the three key elements of solid flooring installation--floor stapler, compressor, and miter saw--and install your own flooring.  Some homeowners may already own a miter saw, and outfitting it with new combination blade, with between 80 and 100 teeth, will be the best way to get precision cuts.

Species

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

Solid Wood, Not Engineered:

These estimates do not include engineered wood, a different product than solid hardwood. Engineered wood costs approximately 10% to 15% more than solid hardwood. For example, DIY installation of solid kempas is around $12.50; engineered kempas would cost about $13.72 per square foot.

No Concrete, No Flooring Removal:

These estimates assume that you do not need to remove any existing floor and that your subfloor is not concrete. Installing solid hardwood over concrete entails adding a plywood underlayment as a moisture barrier.

Even if concrete does not appear to be leaking water (i.e., active leaks through cracks), it may still emit moisture which will wick up and create mold under the flooring.

Factors Behind the Estimates:

All estimates include the cost of materials including underlayment.

In the case of professional installation, the total cost includes 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.

Of Note:

  • A good rule of thumb for estimating floor installation labor costs is to take the purchase price of materials and add 50% of that cost.
  • Red oak is consistently the cheapest solid hardwood flooring you can buy, closely followed by white oak. Domestic cherry and imported Brazilian cabreuva are the most expensive.
  • If you have a pet, claws will take their toll on your solid hardwood floor.  Choosing an incredibly hard wood, like the Indonesian or South American exotics, or using a resin-infused substitute like bamboo, is the best way to go.
  • Hardwood flooring is tough on miter saws.  Even if you own one, consider renting one from Home Depot or a rental yard.  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.