What Kind of Floor Should I Install? Comparing Flooring Costs

by Lauren Leazenby
Set of design materials.

The living room carpet is looking a little … sad. It’s time for a change. But to what? Hardwood is a classy addition to any home, but it can be prohibitively pricey. Tile — though cold to the touch — can offer a unique look. What about synthetic options? Or should you just stick with carpet?

This May Also Interest You: What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

Now your head is spinning with potential flooring options. One of the key factors you’re likely looking at — besides the design, of course — is price. For your cost-comparison convenience, we’ve gathered all our flooring cost guides below.

Man installing a wood floor shown from above ----------------------------------------

Wood Floors

There’s a hardwood floor for almost every budget. At the cheaper end of the spectrum, you can install pine or oak floors for $3 to $10 per square foot. Middle-tier options like birch or maple cost between $8 and $15 per square foot. Exotic woods are expensive — upwards of $20 per square foot. Read more about hardwood flooring costs.

Want the wood look for less? Consider eco-friendly bamboo flooring, which starts at $5 per square foot. Read more: How Much Does Bamboo Flooring Cost?

If you don’t want to shell out for new floors, you can refinish your existing hardwood for anywhere from 50 cents to $8 per square foot.

The worker installing new vinyl tile floor -------------------------------------------

Synthetic Options

Laminate and vinyl are high-durability, synthetic flooring options that both fall in a similar price range. The major difference between the two is that vinyl can work in wet spaces like bathrooms and laundry rooms, while laminate needs to stay dry.

Vinyl generally costs between 50 cents and $2 per square foot but may run up to $6 per square foot if you opt for luxury planks. Installation costs $1 to $3 per square foot. Find more pricing information here.

Laminate costs $2 to $6 per square foot, plus $4 to $8 per square foot for installation. Read more: How Much Does It Cost to Install Laminate Flooring

Worker grinding the floor using a single disc machine -------------------------------------------

Concrete and Cement

Polished concrete can give your home an industrial or modern look. The good news is that there’s likely a concrete subfloor hiding under your tile, hardwood or carpet. The per-square-foot cost to polish this existing concrete is between $2 and $15. If you don’t already have a concrete subfloor, it costs $4 to $8 per square foot to lay a new slab. Here’s our concrete floor cost guide.

Terrazzo is a composite material made of stone chips set in cement or epoxy. It’s a stylish option for both indoor and outdoor use. Depending on local labor prices, expect a terrazzo floor to cost between $15 and $30 per square foot. Read more about terrazzo flooring costs.

To protect existing cement floors in your basement or garage, add an epoxy coating for about $10 per square foot.

Tile Floors

From bathrooms to entryways to kitchens, tile is versa_tile_. Typically, labor and materials are lumped together into one installation cost. To lay standard ceramic tile, a contractor will charge you between $7 and $15 per square foot. Prices go up from there, especially if you pick a more expensive tile like marble or granite. Check out our tile floor cost breakdown.

Installer Using Carpet Stretcher on New Bedroom Floor -------------------------------------------


The previous flooring options are cool, for sure. But some rooms require a bit of warmth underfoot. Installation costs depend on the quality and material of the carpet you pick, so the price per square foot ranges from $1 to $20. Labor will be an additional 5 cents to $2 per square foot. Read more about carpet costs.


Trim adds a finishing touch to your new flooring installation, no matter what type you go with. Expect to pay between 60 cents and $1.20 per linear foot; solid wood is pricier than MDF. Installation costs $4.50 to $6 per square foot. Learn more here.

Radiant Floor Heating

Changing up your floor gives you an opportunity to add radiant heating underneath. This can make any type of flooring warm, even on cold winter mornings. On average, you’ll pay $10 to $25 per square foot to install a radiant heating system, depending on whether you go with a water-, air- or electrically heated system. Here's our radiant floor heating cost guide.