Hardwood Floor Installation Cost

The average cost of installing 200 sq.ft. of hardwood flooring is $4,000.

In this guide

Cost factors
Measurements
Wood flooring grades
Installation types
Thresholds
Finishes
Labor and installation process
Maintenance
Comparisons
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install hardwood flooring?

Hardwood floors add instant character and beauty to any room of the house. In fact, most realtors say that adding hardwood floors to a home can make it sell more quickly, while raising value at the same time.

There are many different types of hardwood floors, each with its own appeal, color, durability, and character. Regardless of which you choose, these floors should always be installed by a professional to ensure that they are installed properly, and that they last for the maximum amount of time.

The average homeowner spends between $12 and $20 a square foot on hardwood floors, installed. This translates to a cost of between $2,400 and $4,000 for a 200 square foot installation of solid or engineered prefinished flooring in your home.

Cost factors

There are several factors that go into determining the ultimate cost of your hardwood floor. The first is size; as the floors are sold and installed by the foot, the the total cost will go up as the size of the project goes up. Location also plays a role; if your floors have a lot of tight angles, closets, and small spaces added together this could potentially increase the cost as installation may become more difficult.

The final factor has to do with the type of flooring that you purchase. Hardwood floors are available in several different species, as well as in several finishes and styles.

Domestic hardwoods tend to be less expensive than exotics, due in part to the availability and the cost of transporting the wood. Unfinished hardwoods are less expensive to purchase, but may cost more to install as the installer will need to sand 1 and finish the floors on site. Prefinished floors are more expensive to purchase, but are faster and easier to install, which can affect costs on this side of the equation.

The finish of the material may also affect cost; handscraped floors will cost more than polished floors, as they are more labor intensive to create, for example.

Measurements

Measuring your floor to determine how much hardwood material you need is simple. Divide the room into squares or rectangles if it contains bump outs, closets, or angles. Measure the length and width of each section in inches. Multiply the two measurements together to get the total number of square inches in that section.

Divide this by 144 to get the total number of square feet in that section, then add the sections together and round up to the nearest whole number. To account for waste, add an additional 10% to your total to get the total amount of hardwood you’ll need for your floor.

Prep work

Before a hardwood floor can be laid, there’s some degree of prepping that needs to go into the project. Old floors may need to be removed if this is an existing home, and the subfloor 2 may need to be replaced.

All hardwood floors should ideally be installed on top of ¾-inch plywood 3. However, engineered wood floors can be installed over concrete and below grade, as they are less prone to being affected by moisture. In this case, the floors would need to be floated, or interlocked plank to plank, rather than being nailed or stapled to the subfloor 2. Plywood 3 subfloors 2 cost between $8 and $16 per square foot; most people only use concrete if it is already installed.

If there is excessive moisture on a concrete floor, then a vapor barrier 4 may be recommended to help prevent this excess moisture from damaging the hardwood. A roll of 200 square foot vapor barrier 4 costs about $16.

In addition to the subfloor 2, any baseboards or moldings will also need to be removed. Hardwood is installed right up to the walls, with a ⅛-inch expansion gap. The baseboard is put back on after the floor is finished, covering this gap and hiding it from view. Doors, thresholds, and transition strips may also need to be removed if they will be in the way, and any furniture needs to be removed from the room as well.

If you are choosing an unfinished floor, which will be finished on site, then precautions should also be taken to protect furnishings in adjacent rooms. Covers should be used to protect them from the dust involved in the finishing of the hardwood.

Solid hardwood vs engineered

Hardwood floors are sold in essentially two types; solid and engineered. Solid hardwood is a single plank of solid wood, and is the most traditional form of hardwood flooring. A solid hardwood floor can be sanded 1 down and refinished countless times, and can last nearly 100 years with proper care. However, because of the solid nature of the wood, these floors are susceptible to moisture, and cannot be installed below grade or in areas with high humidity, as they may swell, buckle, or warp over time.

Engineered wood floors are made up of several layers of plywood 3, each running in a different direction, topped with a hardwood veneer 5. The different layers of plywood 3 make the floors extremely stable, so they are unlikely to swell, buckle, or warp with moisture, and can therefore be installed below grade or over concrete.

Engineered wood floors are more durable than solid hardwood, as they are always factory finished, so there they are more consistent in surface durability. However, because the top layer is a veneer 5, they can only be refinished five to six times. However, new finishing techniques mean that frequent resurfacing may not be necessary, which means that these floors can still last 50 or more years when treated properly.

There is little to no difference between the two floors after installation. Solid wood floors may be less expensive, but cost more to install, while engineered wood floors are more costly to purchase, but less expensive to install, making the two fairly equal in price at the end of the project.

Wood flooring grades

There isn’t a universal hardwood grading system that will tell you the total quality of the floor you purchase. Most manufacturers, however, do grade their floors with several designations that tend to mean the same thing from one to the other, so you can make a better determination of what type of floor you want. There are several ways that you can grade a hardwood floor. The first refers to the floors Janka score, or its durability. A Janka score tells you how hard the floor is, and how long it will last before scratching or needing to be refinished. The higher the score, the harder and more durable the hardwood. This does not impact the cost of the floor, but can help you determine if a wood is right for certain areas of your home.

The second method of grading a floor is more often found in unfinished, solid hardwood flooring than in prefinished or engineered woods. This due to the fact that most manufacturers who finish their floors themselves want the floors to be consistent and to fall within a narrow margin. Floors that are sold unfinished are graded in part based upon appearance. This type of grading can vary from wood species to wood species. For example, Character is a new grade recently assigned to some woods. A Character grade means that the wood features a lot of knots, sap lines, and other streaks. Woods like hickory, which are well known for being highly varied, may receive a “Character” grade.

Most floors are also given grades of Clear, Common #1, and Common #2.

  • Clear floors are very consistent and are made primarily of heartwood (taken from the interior of the tree). They have little to no variation between planks and little streaking or sap marks.
  • Common #1 floors are less consistent. They have some degree of color variation between planks, and may have more sap marks and some knots.
  • Common #2 floors are inconsistent. They have a moderate degree of color variation between planks, and often have sap lines and several knots.

Some floors also have additional grades such as:

  • Select: a select floor has more variation than a clear floor, but less than common #1. This grade is given to floors like red oak and maple, that have a very clear heartwood.
  • First: a first floor is similar to a clear floor; it has little to no variation in its coloration.
  • Second and better: a second and better designation is similar to a common #1 designation; the floor is more inconsistent with its coloration.
  • Third and better: a third and better designation is similar to a common #2 designation; the floor is very in consistent with lots of variation and several knots.
  • Cabin grade: this designation is given to rustic floors, for homeowners that want knots, holes, and an uneven surface texture.

Grades almost always refer to the color and texture of the boards and in no way indicate the quality of the floor. For durability, always refer to the Janka score; grades are more likely to help you determine what style of floor you want, rather than how well it will perform.

Traditional wood species

While any floor can be finished or stained to resemble the base color of another, there are several wood species that are considered “traditional” and that give a set amount of accepted color and style to a home. These woods can be found in both engineered and solid planks, as well as in several finishes and colors.

SpeciesCharacteristicsJanka

Pine

($1-$3/sq.ft.)

Soft floor often sold in wide planks

Lots of knot holes

380-420

Bamboo

($2-$3/sq.ft.)

Fibrous floor made from grass

Only has a veneer 5 surface

Not solid wood

1380

Maple

($3-$5/sq.ft.)

Consistent

Light-colored floor

Most often used in dance studios and basketball courts

1450

Red Oak

($3-$5/sq.ft.)

Consistent

Pink-toned floor with more variation than maple

1290

White Oak 6

($4-$6/sq.ft.)

Consistent

Cool-toned floor with more variation than maple

1360

Hickory

($4-$6/sq.ft.)

Wild

Inconsistent floors

Exceptional durability and lots of variation

1820

Ash

($5-$6/sq.ft.)

Lots of character and a distinctive grain1320

Walnut

($6-$9/sq.ft.)

Dark

Very consistent colored floors with a cool tone

1010


Installation types

No matter what type of hardwood flooring you select, you will likely have several choices to contend with even beyond color and surface finish. One of these is the type of installation. Wood floors can be installed in several styles and methods. The cost of your floor will likely not be affected as much by what type of installation you choose, as the wood species and whether it needs to be finished on site.

Installation  TypesDescription/Application
PlankPlanks are pieces of wood flooring measuring roughly ¾-inch thick and in varying lengths. They can be several different widths from 3 inches to 7 inches.
Click-lockClick-lock floors mean that the individual planks fit together like puzzle pieces, requiring no staples or nails to install.
ParquetParquet is a wood mosaic, made up of different small pieces of wood formed together to make a pattern. Sometimes this is done on site, but you can also purchase pre-made blocks as well.
Long stripLong strip floors refer to planks that are generally longer and thinner in size, roughly 2 to 2-½-inches in width.
Wood shortsWood shorts are very small pieces of wood that may be used in parquets or normal installation. The pieces are often leftover from the manufacturer of other floors, so they may be cheaper, but are considerably more expensive to install as they are more labor intensive, making the cost about equal


Thresholds

Most hardwood floors are designed to be installed wall to wall. However, if you are installing hardwood in a room that is adjacent to a room with another flooring material, you will need either a transition strip or a threshold.

Thresholds are normally made of one of the two floors which are meeting, or may be made of a third material, such as marble, if butting against a tile floor. It’s very common to use some type of threshold or reducer when installing hardwood adjacent to another material.

A hardwood threshold costs between $5 and $20 depending on width and species, while reducers cost around $30. A double reducer or threshold between two materials meant to make the transition easier costs around $40.

It is possible, however, to install a hardwood floor with a metal transition strip, or Schluter strip, for around $2 or $3 if a contemporary look is desired.

Finishes

Any hardwood floor requires a finish to help protect it from moisture, scuffs, and scrapes. There are many different types of finishes from aluminum to wax, and the more modern and popular acrylic resin. If you purchase your floor with a manufacturer’s finish, it will likely be aluminum or resin, and designed to be able to last 10 or more years without refinishing.

However, if you choose an unfinished floor, it will require a finishing treatment after installation and likely every few years after that. Despite the many material that can be used to create them, there are essentially two types of finishes: surface and penetrating.

A surface finish, like wax, is fast and easy to apply. It’s also inexpensive ($5-$10) and your hardwood floor can be ready to be walked on faster. However, it doesn’t last as long and may require frequent reapplications. A penetrating finish, like resin, goes deep into the wood and seals it from the inside out. Penetrating finishes cost more ($50)  and are more difficult to apply, but last longer. If you use a penetrating finish, however, you cannot use a surface finish later; you must stick with penetrating finishes of the same type in the future.

Labor and installation process

The installation process of your floor will be dependant on several factors, such as the type of flooring you choose, how accessible the room is, whether the flooring is already finished, and what type of subfloor 2 you already have installed.

However, there is a basic installation process that most floors follow. Your installer will remove whatever is currently installed, and inspect the substrate. If necessary, a new substrate of ¾-inch plywood 3 will be screwed down. A dry fit installation of the boards will follow to blend the different colors of wood from various boxes to ensure an even installation. The different lengths of boards will also be mixed.

Installation will begin in the center of one wall and will work its way across the room evenly out to each side. If the flooring is prefinished, it can be walked on immediately, and the baseboards installed. If not, the floor will be sanded 1, and a finishing material applied. This may mean that the floor cannot be walked on for two or three more days, and good ventilation may be required to air out the rooms.

Typical labor costs for hardwood floors range from $6 to $8 per square foot, although some costs could go as high as $10 or $12 per square foot if this is a difficult installation.

Maintenance

For most hardwoods, the maintenance is the same regardless of size, finish, or wood species. The floor should be swept or vacuumed without a beater bar as needed, and damp mopped with a cleanser made for wood floors. If necessary, throw rugs can be used to help prevent scratches or scuffs. If a surface finish is used, reapplication and buffing may be required every 5-10  years.

Comparisons

There are several different materials that you may consider installing on your floors in place of hardwood. Each has attributes that may make it appealing in place of wood flooring.

  • Carpet is usually considered when a softer material is desired underfoot, such as bedrooms or children’s playrooms. Carpet is warmer and quieter than wood, but has a shorter lifespan and is higher maintenance. Carpet is less expensive at $7-$12 per square foot.
  • Bamboo is also frequently considered. Bamboo is installed like a hardwood and raises value like hardwood, but doesn’t last as long and cannot be refinished in the event of surface scrapes or scuffs. Bamboo is also less expensive at $10-$11 per square foot.
  • When comparing hardwood vs vinyl, it’s important to consider the value of the home. Vinyl 7 does not add value like hardwood, although it’s much easier to install, lower maintenance, insulating, and costs less at $2-$8 per square foot.
  • Laminate is probably the most frequently material on the market today. Laminate is much easier to install and less expensive at $2-$8 per square foot, but only lasts about 30 years, while hardwood can last up to 100 if properly cared for.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • If you are installing hardwood throughout one or more floors of your home, you may wish to extend this to the stairs as well. Hardwood stair steps cost around $30 in materials, while the labor is much higher - around $80 per step on average for a total cost of $110 per step.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Pet claws can scratch and wear away at hardwood floors. Choosing a wood with a high Janka score or a material with a resin-infused finish can help prevent this. Look at the warranty of the material to find out what may be covered.
  • Prefinished flooring cuts down on installation time, but costs more at time of purchase. This evens out with unfinished flooring which costs more to install, but is cheaper to buy.
  • Hardwood should always be installed by a professional. However, if you want to DIY, engineered hardwood with a click-lock installation may be easier.
  • Always get at least three estimates when having new flooring installed to get the best possible person for the job.
  • To save money, purchase your own materials and do the prep work such as removing furniture and the old flooring before the installation begins.
  • Some installers will remove furniture for you, but most will not. It’s best to have this done before the installer arrives to avoid additional fees of up to $200 per room.
  • Old flooring may be removed by the installer at a further rate of $6-$8 per square foot. If the flooring contains asbestos 8, however, abatement may be necessary before continuing with costs starting at $200-$400 per hour.
  • If your hardwood has become dull, it can be refinished. The average cost of refinishing your flooring is around $3,650.
  • Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, wood flooring must be allowed to acclimate to the temperature and humidity levels of your home before installation. This is to prevent expansion or contraction after installation, which may cause warping.
  • According to APA-The Engineered Wood Association if the subfloor 2 has become wet, it is imperative that it dries prior to installation of hardwood flooring. A hand-held moisture meter 9 can be used to check the condition of the subfloor 2, which should be within a range consistent with recommendations of the hardwood flooring manufacturer. Inspect the subfloor 2 for flatness. Check the subfloor 2 for squeaks or loose panels and shim or refasten as necessary before installing the hardwood flooring. The installer should inspect the subfloor 2 for smoothness along joints 10 between panels. Any ridges at panel edges should be sanded 1 smooth prior to installation of the hardwood flooring, using a heavy duty floor sander with a moderately coarse grit sandpaper.
  • Follow the recommendations of The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) for handling, storing and acclimatizing, and installing hardwood flooring. 
  • According to remodeling101.com when selecting a contractor to work on your home, be diligent to check into their references and make sure they have all required licenses and insurances. Be sure to discuss the scope of work in detail and ask for a detailed budget. Once a budget has been worked out and all parties agree, get it in writing in a contract form. Both parties should execute the contract which should include payment terms. When the process works correctly, you will build a lasting relationship with your contractor and they will have a customer for life.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to install hardwood floors per square foot?

The average cost of installing hardwood floors per foot is $6-$8 for a total of $12-$20 installed.

  • How much does it cost to install 1000 square feet of hardwood floors?

The average cost per square foot installed is $12-$20, making 1,000 sq.ft. around $12,000-$20,000.

  • How much does it cost to install hardwood floors?

The cost of installation for hardwood floors is around $6-$8 per square foot for a total of $12-$20 installed.

  • How much does it cost to install flooring?

The cost of flooring installation changes based on the material, but may range from $4-$20 per square foot.

  • How much is engineered wood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring ranges in cost from $4-$25 per square foot based on species and finish.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Sand: Process of removing the top surface of a material, such as wood, using sandpaper and/or a specialized sanding machine (for large surface areas)
2 Subfloor: The bottom-most layer of a floor, supported by joists, over which finished flooring material is laid
3 Plywood: An engineered construction material manufactured from thin slices of wood glued together in alternating grain patterns for strength
4 Vapor barrier: A protective cover, commonly made of polyethylene, used for damp proofing walls and floors
5 Veneer: A thin layer of decorative finishing applied to a coarser construction material
6 White oak: A higher-quality hardwood commonly found in eastern North America. It is used for construction, fencing, flooring, shipbuilding, making wine barrels, and in home interiors
7 Vinyl: A synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine. Vinyl has many applications in the construction industry and it is widely used in sidings, window frames, roofing and gutters, among others
8 Asbestos: A group of fire-resistant silicate minerals found in construction materials including paint, particularly in older homes. When the asbestos deteriorates, particles can become airborne and this is a serious health hazard.
9 Meter: A device that measures the energy used by a home
10 Joints: A fold, line, or groove where two pieces of material join together

Cost to install hardwood flooring varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Algonquin, IL
+19%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Augusta, GA
-13%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bartow, FL
-15%
Boston, MA
+40%
Bronxville, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Canton, GA
-5%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Gardner, MA
+11%
Harvey, LA
+25%
Herndon, VA
+16%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Laurel, MD
+26%
Littleton, CO
+2%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, MS
-51%
Marietta, GA
+10%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
New York, NY
+77%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Portland, OR
+11%
Raleigh, NC
-3%

Labor cost in your zip code

Last modified:   See change history
Methodology and sources