The Hard Numbers on Hardwood Floor Costs

by Team HomeServe
Man installing a wood floor shown from above

Hardwood floors can give any room a fresh face. Hardwood is also a solid investment as the material lasts for decades. And if you’re selling soon, hardwood can increase the overall appeal (and resale value) of your home.

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This breakdown of installation costs can help you to decide if hardwood floors are right for you.

Cost Per Square Foot

Based on data from LawnStarter, installing a solid wood floor costs from $7 to $16 (CAD 9.50 to CAD 22) per square foot, depending on the type of wood, your geographical location, the amount of prep work required of your contractor and several other factors. Engineered wood installation runs from $6 to $20 (CAD 8 to CAD 27) per square foot using mid-range materials.

Nationwide, homeowners pay an average of $4,140 (CAD 5,600) for solid wood floors and an average of $4,810 (CAD 6,500) for engineered wooden floors — including all materials and labor costs.

Cost by Wood Type

The species of wood you choose for your home can be a big determinant of the installation costs. Exotic hardwoods such as Brazilian walnut, considered to be the highest tier in the flooring industry, can cost more than $14 (CAD 19) per square foot for just the material.

Middle-tier flooring options like oak or teak can range from $5 to $13 (CAD 7 to CAD 18) per square foot.

Budget picks, like pine, will cost you $3 to $6 (CAD 4 to CAD 8) per square foot.

For comparison, laminate floors cost $0.80 to $2.50 (CAD 1.10 to CAD 3.40) per square foot for materials. You can use these per-square-foot prices to calculate how much you might spend on installing hardwood in your space.

The species you choose will likely be based on your decor and your budget, but a flooring contractor may recommend one over another based on your needs. For example, some varieties contract and expand with temperature changes, causing cracks and damage. For this reason, homeowners in extremely hot or cold climates may need to pick woods better suited for fluctuating temps. If your home has a radiant heating system, engineered hardwood may be a better pick because it can stand up to the heat better than most solid hardwood options.

Other Cost Factors

Beyond the amount and type of flooring materials needed for your hardwood floor project, a few other factors play a role in how much installation costs. If your contractor has to do other work, such as sanding and prepping the floor’s underlayment, you can expect to pay more. The same is true if you opt for complicated designs, such as a parquet floor or herringbone pattern.

Similarly, if your subfloor is not level, you may pay between $2 and $7 (CAD 2.75 and CAD 9.50) per square foot for your contractor to pour concrete to create an even surface. And if removing your old floor reveals damage such as rot or mold, additional labor and material costs may be incurred.

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Choosing a Contractor to Install Hardwood Flooring

Paying a contractor to install your hardwood flooring makes up around half of the overall project cost, according to experts. Most contractors provide free estimates with a complete rundown of hardwood floor installation costs. When choosing a contractor for your hardwood flooring project, it’s important to:

  • Compare estimates from more than one hardwood flooring contractor. Follow the rule of three: Get a minimum of three estimates to truly get the best deal.
  • Check the ratings and reviews of contractors you like most. Visit sites to read reviews of flooring contractors you are considering for the job.
  • Look for references and photos of previously completed jobs. Hearing how well a contractor completed work for others is a good basis for judging how they’ll complete your project. Pictures are definitely worth a thousand words.
  • Ask the important questions upfront. How long does your contractor think it will take to complete your project? Do they clean up and remove debris? Do they perform the work themselves, or do they rely on subcontractors?

Reducing Hardwood Floor Installation Costs

As you can see, hardwood flooring can be pricey, so reducing installation costs is the goal of many homeowners. Here are some tips for shaving a few bucks off the total cost of installing hardwood floors:

Lower Material Costs

Choose a cheaper species of wood. Try a mid-range wood such as maple, bamboo or oak instead of pricier mahogany or teak. The results are still beautiful, but you’ll save a huge chunk of dough.

Do the Grunt Work Yourself

Contractors charge a lot for extras like moving furniture or appliances and pulling up old carpet. Do these things yourself to reduce your overall installation costs.

Or, Do the Entire Project Yourself

If you have the time and possess basic carpentry skills — including the ability to use tools like sanders and power saws to make precision measurements and cuts — you may be able to install hardwood flooring yourself.

Is Refinishing Hardwood Floors a Better (or Cheaper) Option?

Not installing a new floor can be a great way to save money, provided your existing hardwood floors are salvageable. If your floors are just a bit unsightly, it may be possible to refinish them instead of replacing them.

Refinishing hardwood floors removes gouges and scratches that accumulate after years of wear and tear. Once refinished, hardwood floors tend to have a shiny, smooth surface. According to HomeGuide, refinishing the hardwood floor in a 16-foot by 16-foot room could cost between $700 and $1,500 (CAD 950 and CAD 2,050).

It’s worth mentioning that while it is possible to refinish solid wood floors several times, engineered floors can be refinished a maximum of twice. In the case of some engineered products, refinishing is not an option at all.

Is It Worth It to Install Hardwood Floors?

Whether or not hardwood floor installation costs are worth it is truly subjective. What’s valuable to one homeowner may not be valuable to another. If you enjoy the look and beauty of hardwood flooring or if you have damaged flooring in need of replacement, installing hardwood floors can be a great option.

Likewise, if you are looking to invest money in your home and you’re seeking projects that offer a high return on investment, installing hardwood floors makes a lot of sense. If you’re selling soon, you may be able to recoup the cost of installing new floors, plus more. This is backed up by a National Association of Realtors and National Association of the Remodeling Industry report that found investment recovery for hardwood floors hovers around 106% once homeowners put their homes on the market.

A Long-Lasting Flooring Choice

Whether you decide to go for hardwood flooring in your home really boils down to the look you want and the budget you have available for the install. Solid wood and exotic wood floors have a life expectancy that’s north of 100 years. Even engineered hardwood flooring is expected to last 50 years or longer.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.