By Dan Simms
Updated Jan 12, 2023
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There’s nothing quite like a beautiful hardwood floor. Unfortunately, there’s also nothing like the price of a beautiful hardwood floor. Many people assume that hardwood floors are too expensive for them to consider, but — while they are expensive — there are ways to get most of the look and feel of hardwood flooring at a more affordable price.
The following guide explores the costs of hardwood flooring in terms of type, style, quality of the wood, and more.
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Hardwood flooring costs between $6 and $24 per square foot, on average, but distilling the cost of hardwood down to a single number is misleading. The cost of hardwood flooring depends on what type of flooring you want, what type of wood it’s made out of, the quality of the wood, and where in your home you want the floor installed.
Hardwood floors cost more than other types of flooring, mostly due to how expensive the materials are. Hardwood has been more expensive lately, but it’s always been considered a luxury flooring option due to the amount of labor required to transform a tree in a forest into a piece of wood suitable for flooring.
The term hardwood flooring sounds simple, but it actually encompasses a wide variety of different types of flooring. The following sections explain how the cost of hardwood flooring varies depending on the type of hardwood material used, the species of wood used, and other factors.
The following table offers a quick look at the average overall cost per square foot of hardwood flooring.
|Average Cost of Hardwood Flooring Per Square Foot|
|Low-end||$6 to $12|
|Average||$12 to $18|
|High-end||$18 to $24|
The type of hardwood material is a major factor that determines the cost of hardwood flooring. The table below provides a quick look at average costs for different wood materials.
|Type of Hardwood Flooring||Cost of Materials (per sq. ft.)||Cost of Labor (per sq. ft.)|
|Solid hardwood||$3 to $20||$3 to $7|
|Engineered hardwood||$3 to $15||$3 to $10|
|Parquet||$3 to $15||$12 to $23|
Solid hardwood refers to any kind of flooring that uses full pieces of solid wood for the flooring and is what most people probably think of when they hear the phrase “hardwood flooring.” Any flooring that uses a thin layer of hardwood supported by composite material, plywood, or anything that isn’t solid wood, doesn’t qualify as solid hardwood flooring.
Materials drive the cost of solid hardwood, with the range reflecting differences between various wood species and different grades of wood.
Engineered hardwood floors are more affordable than solid hardwood floors since they only have a thin layer of quality wood on top of a layer of something else — usually one or two layers of plywood.
Many people who want new hardwood floors wind up with engineered hardwood instead due to the lower upfront cost and lower cost of repairs and replacements if anything goes wrong down the road.
Parquet flooring is made up of thin pieces of real wood arranged in intricate designs that resemble a herringbone pattern. Unlike engineered wood floors or solid hardwood floors, most of the expense of parquet flooring comes from labor. Building and arranging parquet flooring takes more work than installing other types of wood flooring, leading to longer installation times and proportionally higher installation costs.
There are two main types of parquet flooring: true parquet flooring and parquet-style flooring. Parquet tiles are designed to mimic the look of true parquet flooring but are prefabricated and generally considered less desirable.
Hardwood flooring prices also vary significantly depending on what wood type you want. Some species are rarer than others, while others are harder and more difficult to work with. In general, rarer species and harder woods are usually more expensive than more common species and softer species.
The table below includes some typical pricing you’d expect per square foot for different common wood species.
|Species of Wood||Cost Per Sq. Ft.|
|Brazilian Walnut||$10 to $12|
|Hickory||$4 to $8|
|Mahogany||$6 to $9|
|Maple||$3 to $6|
|Red Oak||$2 to $7|
|Teak||$10 to $13|
|White Ash||$5 to $7|
|White Oak||$5 to $8|
The following sections highlight the most popular species of wood used in hardwood flooring.
Red and white oak are different species of the same type of wood. Both species are relatively soft and widely available, making them fairly affordable options. Red and white oak each cost between $2 and $7 per square foot, on average.
White ash is an extremely popular choice for engineered flooring due to its high durability and striking light tones. It’s easy to stain and easy to work with, making it very versatile and capable of fitting in with almost any decor. It typically costs between $5 and $7 per square foot.
Teak is a considerable upgrade over ash or oak due to its rich, golden hues and excellent natural water resistance. It’s a higher-end wood that fetches more premium prices than oak or ash. You can usually find teak flooring for around $10 to $13 per square foot.
Maple is a light, almost white-colored wood that’s featured in hardwood floors, basketball courts, and baseball bats. Costs for maple are typically reasonable, falling between $3 and $6 per square foot, on average.
Hickory is a highly-desirable species for many homeowners thanks to its interesting, swirling grain patterns. Even so, it’s pretty affordable, usually costing between $4 and $8 per square foot.
There are many different species of mahogany, but all feature similar deep, rich reddish color that makes it a classic choice for furniture. Mahogany floors are less common than mahogany desks and tables due to how soft the wood is. A softer wood like mahogany is easy to dent, and you’re more likely to notice nicks and scratches on a mahogany floor than one made from a harder wood. Mahogany flooring usually costs between $6 and $9 per square foot.
Brazilian walnut is extremely hard and durable, making it one of the best types of wood for flooring. This species is characterized by its chocolate color and even grain. You can expect to pay a bit more for Brazilian Walnut flooring, between $10 and $12, on average.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it covers the most common wood species used for new hardwood floors these days. Old flooring is more likely to be made from exotic wood since certain species that were popular in the past are no longer used due to environmental protection and conservation policies.
Hardwood floors are usually 3/4” thick, although they can be as thin as 5/16” and as thick as 7/8”. There’s nothing too complex going on here; the thicker the wood needed, the more expensive the floor. The table below provides average pricing for different wood floor thicknesses that you’ll commonly see for homes.
|Board Thickness||Cost Per Square Foot|
|5/16”||$3 to $6|
|3/4”||$5 to $10|
|7/8”||$10 to $15|
Using thicker wood for your floors gives you more room for sanding and refinishing later, making them a good option for longevity if you can afford to spend more.
It’s worth noting that we’re talking about board depth, not width, in this section. Width doesn’t affect the cost nearly as much as thickness since wider floorboards don’t require more material to make. However, some companies charge more for wide plank floors if you want planks wider than the standard three inches found in most traditional hardwood floors.
Not all hardwood flooring is created equal, even if it’s made from the same species. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to compare the quality of wood you get from different distributors and different vendors since all companies grade their own wood on a different scale. Low-grade wood from a company will always be lower quality than high-grade, but one vendor’s low-grade might qualify as another’s mid-grade.
The following table gives you an idea of how the quality of wood affects the price of hardwood flooring, assuming an average price of $6 per square foot for a hypothetical company’s mid-grade wood.
|Wood Quality||Cost Per Square Foot|
|Low-grade||$2 to $4|
|Mid-grade||$4 to $8|
|High-grade||$8 to $20|
Low-grade wood may have physical defects, less appealing grain patterns, and be less durable than mid and high-grade wood. Durability depends on the species of wood used but also on how the wood is cut, with flat-sawn wood being less durable than quarter-sawn wood.
Mid-grade wood has fewer visual blemishes than low-grade wood but also has what most people consider ordinary grain patterns. Most companies’ mid-grade wood looks as you’d expect, like your average piece of hardwood flooring.
High-grade wood is typically free from imperfections and boasts interesting and beautiful grain patterns. These pieces are selected by hand by an expert and are often sold in groups that complement one another. You’ll pay considerably more for high-grade wood from most wood flooring providers, but it’s the best option if you want to have the kind of hardwood floor that stops people in their tracks when they see it.
Estimating the cost of hardwood flooring is relatively straightforward, although accounting for waste is a bit of an art form. The two main factors that determine the cost of hardwood flooring are materials and labor. Let’s start with materials.
To estimate the cost of materials for a hardwood floor, you’ll need to know the size of the space where you’re installing hardwood floors. Measure the length and the width of the room in feet. Don’t worry about following every twist and turn of the room if it’s not rectangular.
Next, take that number and increase it by about 10% to account for waste.
Even if you hire a professional, there is bound to be some waste from making cuts and sizing the boards to fit your room’s shape and dimensions. Estimating 10% over the raw square footage you measured is a good way to account for this.
Finally, take the number you determined above — your room’s approximate dimensions plus 10% — and multiply it by the cost per square foot of the wood you chose. That number is your estimate for the total material cost.
Calculating the labor cost is much easier — just ask your flooring contractor! Or, if you’re installing your wood floor yourself, do your best to estimate how much your time is worth, remembering to account for lost weekends and gas for multiple trips to the hardware store.
Purchasing hardwood flooring is a big commitment. Hardwood flooring is expensive and requires more care and attention than alternative flooring options, which means it’s not ideal for homeowners looking for a low-maintenance type of flooring. If you think you want hardwood flooring but aren’t 100% sure, here are some factors to consider before you make a decision.
Kids and pets wreak more havoc on hardwood floors than all of the other factors combined. Between the endless spills and drops, muddy feet and pawprints, and general wear and tear caused by skittering nails and running in the house, hardwood floors are bound to take a beating in any home with kids or pets.
Older children don’t pose as big of a threat to wood floors as younger ones, but senior dogs are often prone to accidents, making them just as risky for hardwood as puppies.
Engineered hardwood flooring is a good option for anyone who’s concerned about water damage since it’s cheaper to repair than solid wood floors, but keep in mind that it will still cost a pretty penny. We generally don’t recommend hardwood floors to families with pets or young children.
Hardwood floors don’t handle environments that undergo rapid temperature and humidity changes well. They also don’t do well in climates with high humidity — like coastal regions — or places that experience extreme heat — like tropical and subtropical regions.
Wood expands and contracts when it absorbs or releases water, which means that wood flooring can warp and deform when its subjected to damp weather. Maintaining hardwood floors is a challenge in any climate but is more difficult in hot, humid places.
Some species of wood handle temperature and humidity changes better than others. If you’re set on having Solid hardwood floors in a humid climate, consider using hickory or Australian Mahogany. Engineered wood flooring is even better, though, and opens up the possibility of using a wider range of hardwoods since the effect of expansion is limited to a thin layer instead of the entire plank.
Solid hardwood floors are significantly more expensive than engineered wood floors and don’t offer much more in the way of looks. If you’re after the look and feel of hardwood underfoot, you should give engineered hardwood flooring a serious look. For a substantially lower price, engineered wood floors give you most of what you’re looking for from a solid wood floor.
Hardwood floors require much more work than low-maintenance flooring options like laminate flooring or tile flooring. Taking proper care of hardwood floors requires occasional sanding and refinishing to keep them looking like new throughout their lifespan. You’ll also need to set aside time to dust and vacuum, and most people recommend applying a wood cleaner at least once per month.
Some people think they need to replace hardwood floors when they start showing signs of wear, but most hardwood floors can be resurfaced several times throughout their lifetimes. Sprucing up your existing floors is a fulfilling home improvement project that will save you tons of money compared to installing brand-new flooring.
Installing hardwood floors in a bathroom or basement will often be slightly more expensive than installing one in a living room or bedroom. Installing a hardwood floor in a bathroom, for example, often requires a layer of polyurethane to protect it from the constant barrage of water. This raises the cost of new flooring and lengthens the project, even if you opt for prefinished boards with polyurethane applied from the factory.
Basements also pose a challenge for hardwood flooring, and it often costs more to install hardwood floors in a basement. Basements are more likely to present surprise problems that delay your installation, like rotting joists and moldy subfloors that need attention before the project can continue. You’ll also usually need extra protection from moisture in the form of underlayment and, in some cases, polyurethane.
Most likely, yes, you should. Unless you have ample contracting experience and have worked with hardwood before, you probably should hire a professional contractor to install your floor. Hardwood floors are expensive, partly due to how expensive the materials are, and it would be a shame to waste money on mistakes and ruin perfectly good pieces of wood due to inexperience. Even hardcore homeowners with plenty of DIY experience will often opt for using a professional for hardwood floors.
While it’s more expensive upfront to hire a professional, the money you’ll save on possible mistakes and issues that crop up down the road from a poor amateur installation makes it more than worth it. Hardwood floor installation costs are insignificant compared to the money you’ll save in the long run and the peace of mind you’ll have knowing your floor was installed correctly.
The answer depends on many factors, but the national average total cost of a hardwood floor installation is between $6,000 and $12,000, including the cost of labor.
There is no best overall wood for flooring, only the best types of wood for your circumstances. Brazilian Walnut is an extremely hard species, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas and homes with children and pets. Ash and oak are both affordable wood flooring options that take stain well and are relatively easy to work with, which makes them easier species to fit into existing decor and helps keep costs down.
No! It’s a common misconception that engineered hardwood floors aren’t made from real wood due to their lower price points. Engineered hardwood floors use a thin layer of real wood on top of a less-expensive material like plywood. This makes them more affordable than solid wood floors without sacrificing the look and feel of real wood.
In most cases, yes. Hardwood floors are desirable to many potential buyers, increasing your home’s resale value and making it more likely to sell, on average. Most homeowners can expect an excellent return on investment and to recover more than 75% of the cost of hardwood floors when they sell their homes.
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