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Subfloor Installation Cost

Subfloor Installation Cost

National average
$2,400 - $5,500
(concrete subflooring for 300 sq. ft., average number of joists, thin foam underlayment)
Low: $900 - $2,000

(OSB or thin plywood subflooring, no vapor barriers, minimal joists)

High: $5,500 - $10,000

(Warm board subflooring, plywood underlayment, added joists and tile flooring)

Cost to install subfloor varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from flooring contractors in your city.

The average cost to install subfloor is $2,400 - $5,500.

In this guide

Why to install subfloor
Prep-work
Subfloor materials
Flooring types and recommendations
Installation
Labor
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a subfloor?

Subflooring 1 is the rough foundation floor that is beneath your finished flooring, like laminate, carpet, tile, hardwood, or vinyl 2, to create a smooth, level 3 surface. Subflooring is secured to the floor joists to help provide support in a new home and it is ideally between 5/8” and 7/8” thick.

The costs of installing a subfloor in new construction is typically based on the square footage of the home, but usually installing concrete subflooring averages around $2,400-$5,500 for a surface of 300 square feet.

Why to install subfloor

There are many reasons to install subfloor, though the most important is the added support and structural integrity it adds to the home. Subflooring provides an insulative layer between the structural joists of your floor and the layer of carpet, tile, or wood that you and your loved ones walk across regularly. This buffering layer reduces noise, controls temperature, protects against moisture, and provides a cushion that is far more comfortable underfoot.

Any new construction, be it a home or other structure, should have subflooring installed. There are a couple of instances that do not warrant the installation of a subfloor, such as when you have a concrete slab 4 floor or if your home sits on a cement foundation. In these situations, the cement or concrete can serve as a subfloor in the event you choose to add decorative flooring, like tile or carpeting, later.

Prep-work

Prep-work is key for a level, smooth subfloor, as well as for the integrity of the entire structure. Much of the prep-work for installing subflooring will be done by the contractor laying the flooring, as it involves layering materials and protecting what has already been installed. Prep-work includes leveling the floor joists to ensure your finished floor comes out smooth and seamless. Preparation for installing a subfloor will be included in the overall time, labor, and hourly rate for contractors involved in the project, usually $30-$100 per hour, plus the cost of materials that will be used for the subfloor. There is no additional prep-work or expense at this point in your installation.

Subfloor materials

When installing a new subfloor, materials cost from $0.60-$7.00 per square foot. Naturally, the larger the surface area, the more the material will cost. If they haven’t been placed yet, in addition to subflooring materials you will need to install floor joists, which cost approximately $100-$300 per joist. It is recommended that you have joists at least every two feet, so a space measuring 12’x12’ would require six joists.

You have two options when choosing subflooring materials, traditional and new:

Traditional

Plywood 5 subflooring emerged as an inexpensive alternative to the wood planking used before the mid-1900s. Plywood doesn’t separate as planks did and is a harder material, creating a better and more durable subfloor. Concrete is a popular option for basements and when your home sits on a concrete slab you don’t need joists to support your subfloor.

Traditional subfloor options include plywood, compressed particle board 6 (OSB), and concrete:

  • Compressed wood or particle board (OSB). It costs around $0.60-$1.15 per square foot, and is cheaper than plywood subflooring. Contemporary OSB is eco-friendly, made from recycled materials, but can be vulnerable to damp and wet conditions.
  • Plywood. It is usually $1.05-$1.20 per square foot, depending on thickness. Plywood subflooring is found in ½”, ⅝”, and ¾” thicknesses. Thicker plywood is recommended for hardwood and tile finished floors; thinner plywood works better for linoleum 7 and carpeted spaces. Although it costs a little more, plywood has a long life.
  • Concrete is more expensive at around $2.50-$4 per square foot, but it is solid, hard, and durable. You will find concrete subflooring used most often in basements or other damp spaces. Concrete stays cool, is vulnerable to moisture, and is best when used in conjunction with an underlayment.

New

Newer subflooring materials strive for environmental awareness and efficiency. These advanced flooring systems withstand moisture effectively, while also providing insulation and ease of installation. Some of these products include Delta-FL, DRIcore system, Tyroc, and Warm board:

  • Delta-FL is found at $0.63 per square foot. This subflooring material comes in rolls and is intended to prevent mildew or musty smells. It also helps insulate the finished floor.
  • DRIcore system is around $1.75 per square foot and is most commonly found in ¾” thick, 2’x2’ wide panels. This more expensive subflooring material is ideal for high-moisture damp spots, like your basement. DRIcore is very strong, supporting up to 3,000 pounds per square foot.
  • Barricade panels cost just under $2 per square foot, and this moderately-priced material keeps floors warmer and reduces noise in the space.
  • Tyroc costs $2.70 per square foot and is made from recycled rubber and plastic. It is treated to prevent mold and doesn’t require glue or screws to attach to concrete. It is used under all types of floors, from carpet to stone.
  • Warm board is typically $7 per square foot. It combines aluminum and either plywood or OSB to create a strong, albeit pricey, subfloor that works well with radiant heat finished floors.

* We selected different brands to improve and clarify the information contained in this cost guide. We do not receive any monetary compensation from these companies.

Flooring types and recommendations

Please talk to your contractor for distinct recommendations pertaining to the subfloor you are installing and the types of finished flooring that you have in mind. Many factors come into play regarding the best materials to use, including your geographic location and the climate. For example, concrete subfloor is most common in basements. You may also choose modern DRIcore for finished basements where you plan on installing carpet later. This ensures your space remains dry over time or in wet climates.

With hardwood floors, a plywood subfloor is most popular, which is also true of any tile flooring, such as ceramic or porcelain, due primarily to the competitive price and longevity. When planning finished floors with stone, warm board makes a thick and durable subfloor for your heated and high-end flooring; thinner plywood subfloor or OSB makes the most cost-efficient sense for laminate, vinyl, or you could try a new material like Tyroc for an eco-friendly choice.

Installation

Think about your floor as being a series of layers; you have underlayers, moisture barriers (in some cases), subflooring, and your finished floor, which all rest on floor joists or supports. Installation can be a breeze once the prep-work and initial layers have been completed successfully, creating the supportive and smooth surface for you to layer-in each of your flooring materials. Each layer must be carefully cut, laid, secured, screwed, and sealed before the next layer can be added, which makes it labor-intensive and precise work.

If you construct and install the subfloor properly, laying finished flooring (or changing it out later) can be fast and simple for any contractor. Different subflooring materials may make the process easier or more rigorous, typically due to the weight, heft, and availability of these products. For instance, modern recycled Barricade panels are lighter and easier to maneuver than panels of traditional plywood.

Labor

Labor is a big component of your overall cost to install a subfloor. Since the subfloor and joists are supporting the weight of your home, belongings, and people inside, it merits professional installation, like carpenters and contractors.

Depending on various factors, it typically costs between $30 and $100 an hour, depending on your location and the professionals that you hire. For instance, a general handyman may charge $30 an hour while a finished carpenter may charge up to $100 per hour for labor. Consider that it takes around two days to install subflooring in a space measuring 300 square feet. You will likely find the hourly rate cheaper in rural areas and higher in more urban cities.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Vapor barriers

One improvement that you will want to invest in are vapor barriers 8 (also called a moisture barriers) or underlayment over your new subfloor to reduce moisture. A vapor barrier is an additional layer between the subfloor and the finished floor that helps to retard any moisture that may seep or leech up through the ground or concrete foundation. Moisture wreaks havoc on your home; vapor barriers prevent damaging leaks and flooding.

There are a number of inexpensive materials for your underlayment layer, including a thin foam spray that helps to keep water from seeping in through the foundation of your home. These layers can be very cheap, as low as $0.50-$1 per square foot, depending on what you choose, plus labor costs. Adding a vapor barrier will also increase the time and cost of your subfloor, but it is an investment worth making if you live in wet or humid environments, or if you are installing a subfloor in your basement.

Finished flooring

Enhancing your subfloor installation may include the process of installing your new finished flooring, too. Finish flooring materials cost as little as $2 per square foot for inexpensive vinyl tile to $9.50 per square foot for porcelain tile. Your contractor will likely charge the same hourly rate, between $30 and $100, to lay the finish floor.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Permits. New subflooring is considered a modification to the home’s structure, which does require that you get permits from your city or municipality before installation starts. This is not a separate permit from the permits that you have already attained for your new construction. Call your local code enforcement office to learn more about what you need in your distinct municipality.
  • DIY. Installing a subfloor is not a weekend project for a DIYer: the materials and equipment used merit a professional contractor. It is also integral to follow local codes and ordinances, which can be risky when going with a layman. Hiring a professional ensures that your subfloor is supportive and contributes to the home’s structural integrity.
  • Mobile homes. If you are installing a subfloor in a home without a traditional foundation, like a mobile home or tiny house, skip compressed wood and opt for plywood subflooring instead. Without a solid foundation, compressed wood, like particle board, can soak up moisture and compromise the integrity of your home.

FAQ

  • What thickness subfloor is recommended?

The thickness of a subfloor is usually from 5/8”-7/8”, but it really depends on the type of finished flooring you plan to use.

  • How much does it cost to install floor joists?

Except for homes that have concrete slabs, all houses have floor joists. Installing joists is part of framing the overall house so the cost depends on many other elements and factors related to construction, though it is estimated that framing the floor in new construction can cost around $3,000. A joist is strongly encouraged to be implemented every 16” of your square footage. To repair a floor joist costs around $100-$300 per joist.

  • How long does it take to install a subfloor?

When dealing with new construction, when there is no need to demolish or remove old flooring materials, it takes around two days to install 300 square feet of subflooring. This will vary based on your contractor’s scheduling and other factors that can impede or speed up progress during construction.

  • How much does it cost to install underlayment?

The cost of your underlayment depends on what you use for materials; for example, if you are installing a hardwood floor, you may use inexpensive plywood for your underlayment at $1.20 per square foot, plus labor costs of $30-$100 per hour. If you are using tile for your finished floor, you may choose a cement underlayment for $4 per square foot plus labor costs of $30-$100 per hour to install this layer.

  • How much does it cost to put in a new subfloor?

It may cost as little as $1,000 to put in an inexpensive subfloor, but it will likely require replacement at some point. Considering factors like hourly labor rate and size of your home, it is common to spend between $2,400 and $5,500 to install a new subfloor.

  • Do you nail or screw subfloor?

Use screws, such as deck, underlayment, or subflooring screws, when securing subflooring. Make sure to never use sheet rock 9 screws or secure any of the screws directly to the joists.

  • What kind of plywood do you use for subfloor?

There are several different types of plywood subflooring, and various thicknesses available depending on your distinct home. Plywood is usually found in ½”, ⅝”, and ¾” thicknesses, and you will find thicker plywood works better for hardwood or tile finishes while thinner options typically are best for linoleum and carpet.

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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.
glossary term picture Subfloor 1 Subflooring: The bottom-most layer of a floor, supported by joists, over which finished flooring material is laid
glossary term picture Vinyl 2 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
3 Level: The process of evening out the ground's surface, making it either flat or sloped.
glossary term picture Concrete Pad 4 Concrete slab: A flat area of concrete that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a patio or a driveway
glossary term picture Plywood 5 Plywood: An engineered construction material manufactured from thin slices of wood glued together in alternating grain patterns for strength
glossary term picture Particleboard 6 Particle board: An engineered wood product used in construction projects and composed of wood chips, sawmill shavings, and/or sawdust and a suitable binding agent, such as resin.
glossary term picture Linoleum 7 Linoleum: An inexpensive flooring material made from linseed oil, resins, recycled wood flour, cork dust, limestone and mineral pigments, on a canvas or jute backing.
8 Vapor barriers: A protective cover, commonly made of polyethylene, used for damp proofing walls and floors
glossary term picture Drywall 9 Sheet rock: A solid panel made of gypsum plaster with thick paper on both sides. It is used in most modern homes to construct walls and ceilings

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

Professional laying plywood subfloor

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bayside, NY
+37%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Boston, MA
+40%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brookline, MA
+51%
Brooklyn, CT
-10%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OK
-50%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Corvallis, OR
-13%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dublin, OH
+13%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Elmira, NY
-7%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Glenwood, IL
+11%
Hope Mills, NC
-21%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntington Beach, CA
+24%
Huntsville, AL
-17%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Katy, TX
+63%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Lafayette, IN
-10%
Lake Worth, FL
-2%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lithonia, GA
+9%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Marietta, GA
+10%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Mendenhall, MS
-44%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Middletown, PA
+2%
New York, NY
+77%
Oak Creek, WI
-7%
Ocala, FL
-25%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources