Hardwood flooring is one of the best investments you can make. According to the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Realtor Association, homeowners who install new wood flooring before selling their homes recoup 118 percent of the cost at resale. As a result, hardwood floors effectively pay for themselves.
However, before embarking on this home improvement project, consider the installation and material costs. Hardwood is pricey, especially if you choose a rare wood. You can take some steps to save money along the way, but budgeting is essential if you want a good ROI.
What is the cost of hardwood flooring?
According to Angi, the average cost of installing hardwood flooring ranges from $6 to $25 per square foot. When you include materials, the price rises. And the cost of installation may be higher — up to $45 per square foot — depending on the material and labor involved.
Along with your preferences, your home influences which types of wood can and cannot be used. Thinner pieces of wood, for example, may warp in areas of your home that are prone to moisture. Here are a few general factors that will influence the cost of the flooring.
— The type of wood. Stronger, more durable wood is more expensive. Pine and acacia, for example, are less expensive per square foot, whereas walnut and teak are more expensive.
— Outward appearance. You should also consider the grain, texture, and finish of the wood planks. The final appearance will be determined by these factors as well as the length of the boards.
— The planks’ thickness. Certain types of wood can only be cut to specific thicknesses. The more expensive the wood, the thicker it is.
— Material quality. Will Lau, a Southern California-based residential Realtor, advises against buying cheap flooring with the intention of renovating it later. “Instead, consider installing wood floors as an investment that you and your family can enjoy.”
Labor is the other component of hardwood flooring installation costs. Moving furniture, tearing up the old floor, and prep work will all have an impact on how much installation costs.
— Rearranging furniture to make more room. You may be able to move the furniture yourself if you are only refinishing one room. You may need to hire professional movers and rent storage space for your furniture if you are doing a full remodel.
— Demolition of the current floor. Labor costs typically include removing the old flooring, but you may be able to save money by doing this prep work yourself.
— Getting the subfloor ready. According to Lau, you won’t know the exact cost until you remove the original flooring. The amount of work required is determined by the size of your home and the state of your flooring. It will cost more if your flooring is in poor condition.
— Putting in new flooring. The cost per square foot can vary depending on factors such as square footage and job complexity. Get estimates from several contractors to determine how much the project will cost you.
How to Save Money on Hardwood Flooring Installation
Prepare to do some of the work yourself and put in the time to research costs to save money.
1. Refinish your existing wood floors
According to Lau, this is one of the most cost-effective options. It is, however, only an option if your floors are solid wood or certain types of engineered wood. Because laminate cannot be refinished, you may have to rip it out and replace it with hardwood.
However, according to the Remodeling Impact Report, refinishing has the highest ROI. Refinishing is the most cost-effective option if your home already has hardwood and you just want to change the stain.
2. Research materials
Because the type of wood you use has a big impact on the price, look into the average prices for different species, grains, lengths, and thicknesses of wood flooring. Tropical hardwoods will cost more on average, but the cost of each type of wood varies greatly depending on quality.
Furthermore, make sure to stock up on supplies. When it comes to touch-ups, the lot matters, so having extra will help you avoid mismatched flooring in the future.
3. Decide on engineered versus solid wood
There are two types of wood used for hardwood flooring: solid and engineered. Engineered wood, as opposed to solid wood, is made up of several layers of plywood and hardwood.
Engineered wood is more durable and may cost more to purchase, but it is less expensive to install and less prone to warping. Although solid wood is less expensive to buy, it is more expensive to install.
4. Remove your furniture
Anything you can do to make workers’ lives easier will save money. Moving and covering your furniture reduces the amount of work the installers have to do.
You can also compare hiring movers to having your contractor’s team move your furniture. If you intend to redo your entire house’s flooring while also tackling other projects, it may be worth the cost to hire professional movers and rent a storage unit until the renovations are completed.
5 Do your own demolition of your old floor.
If you have the time and equipment, Lau recommends removing the existing flooring first. You can save money on labor by removing the old flooring, tile, and laminate yourself. But be cautious during the demonstration. You don’t want to mess up the subfloor and cause yourself more financial problems.
6. Do it yourself
You should only do all or part of the job if you have prior experience installing hardwood floors. Otherwise, it may be more expensive and time consuming to try to do it yourself only to have to hire someone later to fix mistakes.
How to Fund the Purchase of Hardwood Flooring
Consider a home improvement loan, a home equity loan, or a home equity line of credit to cover the costs of hardwood flooring.
Home improvement loans
Home improvement loans are a type of personal loan designed specifically for home improvement projects such as hardwood floor installation. They provide fixed rates and are useful for covering fixed costs. They are especially useful if you do not want to use your home as collateral.
A home improvement loan may be the best option if you have already received contractor quotes and know how much your project will cost.
Home equity loans
A home equity loan works in the same way as a home improvement loan. You receive a lump sum and repay the loan over a set period of time, typically three to seven years. Your home, on the other hand, serves as collateral for the loan. This means you have access to lower interest rates, but you risk losing your home if you are unable to repay.
Home equity lines of credit
Your home is also used as collateral for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). It does, however, function similarly to a credit card.
Instead of receiving a lump sum, you will have access to funds as needed and will be able to repay and reborrow as much as you need. The draw period is typically up to ten years, and they are useful for covering unexpected costs that arise during large projects such as installing hardwood floors.
Doing your research will give you a good idea of how much time and money it will take to buy the materials and install the hardwood flooring. Here’s how to get ready for your project.
Have your plumbing inspected.
Lau suggests getting a plumbing inspection to look for problems that could cause damage to your floors. “You want to avoid having a pinhole leak from bad pipes that damages the floors,” he says. “Not only could the cost of redoing it be a headache, but so could the time and effort spent in preparation for installation and the actual work itself.”
Think about hiring a consultant.
Lau also suggests hiring a wood flooring specialist as a consultant. A consultant can address issues you may not have considered, such as where and when the sun enters the house. Natural light may appear to be a minor detail, but it can damage the floors.
Make a savings plan
After you’ve calculated the cost of installing hardwood floors in your home, determine how much you need to save and by when. Many contractors require a deposit to cover materials up front, so you may need to have a portion saved up sooner than expected — or secure other financing.