The Cost To Install Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring Costs
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The exact cost of installing hardwood flooring in a space will be determined by a number of factors, and can vary greatly. The type of wood used, the method of installation, the materials and equipment costs, as well as any waste generated through the process can all drive the price up considerably. However, hardwood is a great long term surface covering investment that can pay off in value far more than it requires in initial cost; when done right.

Material Cost For Hardwood Flooring
$1.50 Low end low quality, often softwood
$4.00 - $8.00 Average Pricing
Exotic: $10 - $20 per square foot or more. Some woods are extremely rare, others have to be transported from far off locations.

Prices will be based on quantity purchased and the location they are being used in. Generally materials for a 10’ X 10’ hardwood floor will cost between $400 - $600 in total/ (Remember ancillary costs)

What Determines Hardwood Flooring Material Prices


There are many different trees in the world and the quality, strength, look, and availability of them varies greatly. That will contribute heavily to the cost of the materials you purchase.

Hardness Rating: This determines how strong the material is, and whether it will stand up to damage over time. This is factored using the Janka rating system, with higher numbers indicating stronger materials. Generally you want to purchase hardwood that is between 1320 - 2820 in order to gain a durable material that will be able to handle mid level traffic.

The finish of your wood can also contribute to its durability.


Hardwood Versus Softwood


The structural strength of hardwood flooring can vary considerably, and is often determined by the amount of time that the tree it is harvested from requires to grow. That makes hardwood more expensive than softwood flooring, like pine, which can bloom quickly but has little resiliency.




Depending on the climate the you live in, it may be important to understand the humidity effects on your materials. Some products will plump significantly, which can cause cracks and even long term damage. When installing flooring in these spaces you need to be aware of how the liquid in the air will affect the product. Some species will handle changes in moisture level much better than others.

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Flooring Grades


The grade refers to the amount of manufactured and naturally occurring marks, characteristics, and variations that the manufacturer allows to appear in the wood flooring product. The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has established a rating scale to assist consumers. NWFA “clear” rating will have a uniform appearance, while lesser grades will show more imperfections. However on the flip side, low grade products will have more personality and individuality, which may be desirable in some areas.

Clear: The most uniform appearance possible, with few if any characteristic marks, knots, or lines visible in its surface.

Select: This is the standard for flooring material.

It will contain some marking however these are not overt, and are only seen in certain pieces.

#1 Common: With these materials you will see distinct knots and markings in the wood, however they will not show up in every piece, and are often attractive in a characteristic way.

#2 Common: The lowest grade material, these planks have a rustic look that has a lot of personality. Almost every piece will have some markings, and often you will find multiple knots, and even discolorations in the individual boards.


Prefinished Vs Unfinished Wood


Prefinished materials: These will have a factory coat of color stain, as well as a thick polyurethane surface treatment. That makes them strong, durable, and highly resistant. They are also somewhat more expensive, though they tend to last longer and are more durable against damage.

Unfinished: This refers to raw wood planks with no factory coatings added. These are less expensive, and give you the ability to choose a stain color to match the look you are trying to achieve. Since it is applied after installation that can also make for a more uniform hue across the surface of the floor. The drawback is that they are more difficult and time consuming to work with, and the protective coatings that you add will never be as durable as those applied by a machine in a factory.

Hand Scraped: These products are the premium pieces of the hardwood flooring world. That is because each plank is worked by hand by an artisan, that uses tools to scar the material in characteristic ways, giving them a distinct personality that can be quite potent in an installation. However hand scraped wood is also much more expensive than alternative options.

Bamboo Versus Hardwood Flooring


Engineered Wood


A marvel of the modern age, engineered wood takes a tiny sliver of the real material and adheres it to a backing that is durable, but inexpensive. A clear protective wear layer is then added over the top to prevent scratches and stains. This creates a low maintenance alternative to hardwood that is also available at a fraction of the price. However it does not last nearly as long, and cannot be refinished, making it a one time installation job.

Vinyl Hardwood Flooring


Hardwood Flooring Materials


This refers to nails, screws, adhesive, drill bits, and any of the incidental products required for proper installation. You can expect to add $1 - $2 per square foot for these items.


Specialty Pieces


There are a number of special wood pieces that will be required to complete a hardwood installation. Thresholds will be necessary to bridge gaps between rooms, and moulding will cover the gaps around the walls. It is also possible to get emblems, crests, and seals carved from wood in order to act as the accent centerpiece of the space. All of these will cost 2 - 3 times the price of the materials themselves.


Equipment Rental


If you are doing the installation yourself then there are some basic tools that you will either have to purchase, or rent from your local hardware store. This includes things like a circular saw for sizing pieces at edges, automatic floor nailers, a drill, and pull bars. All told these will run about $200 - $500 in total depending on the store you choose.


Delivery and Removal


Hardwood flooring materials can be heavy, and will probably require a truck to get them from the lumber yard to your location. A professional driver may charge as much as $150 - $300 for this service depending on the size of the load and the distance they have to go. You should also factor in the cost and effort of removing old flooring, and disposing of any waste that may be left behind.


Labor - DIY Versus Professional Help


If you hire someone to do the work then you can expect to pay roughly: $10 per square foot depending largely on quantity and location. A 10’X10’ room will take about 6 hours and cost between $400 - $550 for a professional to finish.

While this may seem expensive, the cost of the hardwood and the equipment rentals can be costly as well. You will also have to factor in any mistakes you make as waste that will add to the price of the job. However, if you know what you are doing then performing the task yourself can significantly lower the price of the installation.

Note: When getting a flooring installation estimate from a contractor make sure that you know exactly what they are promising. This includes things like clearing the room of furniture, cleanup, repairs, insurance, and transportation costs.