7 Steps to Saving on Hardwood Flooring Costs

You’ve painted the walls the perfect shade and the lighting is to your liking. Now you need the right soil to tie the room together. If you want new hardwood flooring, be careful: you have a plethora of options at a wide range of prices.

It costs an average of $ 2,400 to $ 4,000 to buy and install 200 square feet of hardwood flooring, according to a national Fixr.com survey. That’s a wide range of $ 12 to $ 20 per square foot. The amount you spend depends on:

  • The grade and cut, which describe qualities such as color variation, whether knots are visible and the direction of the grain.

  • Whether the wood is solid or engineered (several layers of wood veneers).

  • The amount of prep and cleanup work that the contractor needs to do.

Here are tips for buying hardwood floors, comparing contractors’ quotes, and controlling material and labor costs.

How much does it cost to install a hardwood floor?

When a hardwood flooring contractor prepares a quote, the costs are usually split between materials and labor. There could be another section of the estimate that details other costs.

Cost of materials: This is where we find the most variations. “This is the only place the customer can add or subtract results,” says Brett Miller, vice president of education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association.

The materials are where the customer can add or subtract from the bottom line.

The cost of the flooring is calculated per square foot. The contractor typically adds between 5% and 12% to the square footage as a “cutting allowance” or “waste factor” to account for any scrap that will be left in place. For example, a 100 square foot room may require the purchase of 105 to 112 square feet of flooring, as the boards will need to be cut to size. The remaining material is the cutting allowance.

Cheaper species of solid hardwood, like oak and American cherry, cost $ 5 to $ 10 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor, a go-to service for home improvement professionals. More expensive species, like Brazilian walnut and mahogany, cost between $ 8 and $ 14 per square foot.

The price of engineered wood varies widely, depending on the thickness of the top veneer and the number of layers of plywood under it. According to HomeAdvisor, low-end engineered hardwood costs between $ 3 and $ 5 per square foot, the mid-range between $ 5 and $ 10 per square foot, and the high-end between $ 8 and $ 13 per square foot.

Baseboards are billed by the foot, and the contractor will charge for vapor barriers and fasteners such as nails, staples or glue.

Labor costs: Contractors usually charge labor per square foot, just like they charge for flooring. Expect to pay $ 4 to $ 8 per square foot for labor to install solid hardwood flooring and $ 3 to $ 10 per square foot to install engineered wood, according to HomeAdvisor. Labor costs are higher for floors with vents and irregular shapes.

Other costs: Some costs may be unknown until the contractor begins the work. “There are a lot of things, unseen, that they give an estimate for,” Miller says. So, an estimate usually includes a disclaimer stating that there could be additional costs “once we have ripped your carpet or removed the baseboards or done a little more investigation”.

Labor costs are higher for floors with vents and irregular shapes.

This is particularly the case with the sub-floor – the area under the flooring – which may not be flat enough or hide moisture, which must be addressed at the source.

The miscellaneous costs also include the costs of removing and disposing of the old flooring, if this has to be done.

Return on investment of parquet floors: Homeowners who install hardwood floors get most of their money back if they sell the house within the year. Vendors are recouping 91% of the cost of the project, according to the 2017 Remodeling Impact Report jointly released by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

According to the report, the main reason for installing hardwood was to improve a worn floor. The second most popular reason was to modernize the house.

How do you compare the estimates?

You don’t compare the prices of apples to tomatoes at the supermarket. Likewise, you don’t want to compare maple with hickory when getting estimates for hardwood floors.

Since hardwood floors come in many species, grades, and widths, as well as solid and technical variations, it’s important to ensure that you get competing quotes for similar materials. This way you compare the prices of apples to apples (or maple to maple).

On the labor side of the estimate, Miller suggests paying attention to the level of specificity described in preparation and cleaning. He cites a hypothetical example of two contractors: one who “gives a little more detail on the preparation of the site and the environmental conditions surrounding this soil and the required humidity tests”, and the other who does not. . Miller might favor the entrepreneur who shares the details; you can request more information from the less specific contractor.

How To Cut Hardwood Flooring Costs

There are many choices available for the types of wood flooring you purchase and the labor involved. Being aware of the differences within each category allows you to select cheaper options that work for you.

1. Restore instead of replace

You may be able to refurbish a worn-looking hardwood floor. This cheaper option works best if you know you’ll like the look of your current floor after it’s been sanded and a new coat or two of finish has been applied. Solid hardwood can be refurbished multiple times; engineered wood can be refurbished fewer times.

2. Store cash

Most homeowners start shopping with appearance in mind: what color and shade would be best? Lovers of light floors (think most basketball courts) might prefer woods like ash or maple. Lovers of medium-tinted floors might prefer walnut or oak. Aficionados of dark-colored floors (think paneling at men’s clubs in old movies) might choose mahogany or walnut. Each species will have its own price range, with oak and hickory often at the lower end and mahogany at the upper end.

3. Think about cereals

The appearance of the wood grain, which comes from the way the wood is cut at the sawmill, affects the price. Do you want the grain to extend across the board in undulating patterns? It is a “flat sawn” cut and it is the cheapest.

Do you want the grain to line up the entire length of the boards? Then you want a “quarter-sawn” or “rift-sawed” cut, which are more expensive than regular sawing.

4. Choose the note

Wood floors are classified according to their physical characteristics. Planks are graded “clear” if they are of a uniform color and lack knots and wormholes. A “select” grade goes for the natural look: wood with variations in color, knots and mineral streaks. A “No. 1 common” grade has even more variation in color and knots, and may even have wormholes. “No. 2 common” is a more rustic version of No. 1 common.

Wood floors are classified according to their physical characteristics.

Generally, light graded lumber is more expensive per square foot than selected lumber, and selected lumber is more expensive than standard grades. You may find exceptions, especially during sales.

5. Choose solid or engineered

Once you’ve decided on the look you want, it’s time to choose between solid wood and engineered hardwood. Solid wood is what it looks like – the plank or plank is cut straight from the tree. Engineered wood consists of a hardwood veneer over several layers of plywood and is resistant to moisture damage. If you insist on a hardwood floor in the basement, such as in a basement, it will have to be designed.

There are different grades of solid wood and engineered wood, and it is impossible to say that one type costs more than the other.

6. Remove and discard the old flooring

The contractor will charge you for the removal of the old flooring and the proper disposal. So if you can do this part of the project yourself, you can save some money.

7. Install the floor yourself

For most homeowners, installing hardwood floors is not a DIY project. The installation of a parquet requires an expertise beyond the simple nailing or gluing of boards on a sub-floor.

For one thing, an installer needs to know if nailing or gluing (or floating) is the right method for that particular floor. In addition, an installer must understand how to account for variations in temperature and humidity, know whether to use a vapor barrier and what type, understand how to adapt to features such as chimneys and closets, and be prepared to tackle other issues.

However, YouTube is full of tutorials for installing hardwood floors, and home improvement stores sometimes offer classes. If you have strong DIY skills, lots of patience, lots of tools, and the humility to smile despite mistakes, you can try installing the floor yourself.


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