Hardwood pricing can vary dramatically between installers, location, type of installation, patterns, artistic work, and various other considerations. What we cover here will be for your more basic installations, including nail down, glue down, floating click, and floating glued tongue and groove. The two main types of hardwood are solid and engineered. Some considerations we will cover include stairs, angles, picture frames for rooms or for smaller items such as fireplaces, and floor prep. We will also cover the importance of quality and timeliness, which are often as important as cost when deciding on who to hire to install your hardwood floor.
If you are just interested in the numbers, please scroll down to the bottom. If you want more detailed information, read on.
Quality, when we are talking about hardwood floors, is even more important then when we discuss quality for vinyl, carpet or laminate. Hardwood is possibly the most costly floor to install, can last longer then almost any other floor, and can bring a home to life like no other flooring. The only challenger to it's reputation as the most prestigious of flooring is high end tiles.
Whether you purchase hardwood that costs $2.00 a square foot or $200.00 a square foot, you want to make sure all the prep is done properly, or your floor will eventually squeak, boards will separate, furniture will wobble when your floor becomes uneven, and a myriad of other problems can crop up.
The standards for flatness on substrates that hardwood will be installed on are the same as for most other floors, namely 1/8 inch variance over 10 feet, with no more then 1 gap under a 10 foot straightedge. Like all floor prep, this can be a very quick and inexpensive job, or a very expensive one, depending on the quality of the substrate you have to begin with. Many basement installations, or installations over concrete anywhere, need to be completely floated with self leveler to get the appropriate degree of flatness.
Hardwood installation is something that we recommend getting a more qualified professional for, if you want the highest quality. Always ask for examples of previous work, and for references. If your installer does not come highly recommended, ask questions about floor prep and flatness standards. If he or she does not know the answer on the spot, you may need to find a different installer if you want a high quality installation. The best hardwood installers know that half the work is often prep work with hardwood, and you can't get an flat, smooth floor without a flat substrate.
After substrate preparation, installation begins. If you have a very simple layout, without picture frames, borders, accents and inserts, it often goes smooth from here. The more complex layouts, with bordered rooms, open ended stairs, different colored wood inserts, or patterns like the herringbone pattern that is popular in high end homes, will take significantly more time and require an installer with a lot more skill then your local handyman. Be aware of what you want your floor to look like when finished, and seek out an installer that can reach the standards of quality you set.
Like all jobs, if you are on a tight time line, you should either plan well in advance, or be prepared to settle for an installer that may not be your first, second, or even third choice. Again, this often comes down to how complex your hardwood installation is. On simple layouts, there are many qualified installers to choose from. When you have a complex layout, with many subtle details, you often have to schedule your installer in weeks or months in advance, or possibly end up with a sub par installation you are unhappy with.
If your time line does not allow for any delays, be sure to have your substrate inspected by the installer at least a few days before installation, to make sure it is within industry standards of flatness before he or she arrives to install your new hardwood floor. If not, you will either have to live with the delay necessary to correct it, or have a floor installed over a poor substrate, which many installers will not do due to warranty issues, and their own insistence on only installing the highest quality floors.
Like many construction projects you may have an easier time finding a qualified installer on short notice in the winter months as opposed to the busy summer season.
Since there are so many variables in hardwood installation, quotes between jobs and companies can vary dramatically. The basic installation rates are normally stable within a given city, with prices fluctuating between companies within a range of 50% depending on experience, demand, reputation, and of course the quality of their work.
All installations of hardwood will have a minimum charge, so if you are just having one room done you may not be charged by the square foot. You may also have a price break on jobs over a certain size, for full house installations, or multiple units if you are a contractor or builder. Always ask the company giving you a quote about potential discounts if it is a larger job.
The variables that affect the price of hardwood installation include, but certainly are not limited to, how big or small the areas are, diagonal or curved walls, picture frames and borders, patterned installations, inserts, and how many areas they connect to. Stairs are considered separately, but a set of stairs can often cost as much as an entire floor of a house, particularly curved or open ended stairs. Thinner shorter boards will often cost more to install then wider longer boards.
Diagonal and curved walls take much longer, and create more waste, so costs more then the material and labor end. If you are installing a bunch of little rooms and hallways, expect to pay a bit more per square foot then if you are installing a large open room. How many areas they are connected to doesn't increase the square foot cost, but each transition does add a cost. Some installers will charge per transition, or if there is just 1 or 2, not charge at all. If there are multiple transitions that need to be installed, be sure to ask if they charge extra for installing them or if it is included in the quote, and if you do not have the transitions yet, ask if the installer can provide them. Often the supply store the installer deals with will have a greater selection of generic transitions then your local big box store.
Picture frames, inserts, and borders are almost always priced per job. Some installers have a standard rate for patterns, but many will want to see the layout and material and will quote them by the job as well.
Engineered vs solid
Engineered hardwood has a laminated core with a thinner layer of real wood on top, while solid hardwood is, as the name implies, wood throughout. Floating wood floors will almost always be engineered hardwood, as will most glue down hardwoods. Nail and staple down can be engineered or solid hardwood. Solid hardwood is normally thicker, and can often be refinished once or twice more then engineered, since it can be sanded down to where the nails or staples are, while engineered can only be sanded down to where the real wood layer on the top ends. In a realistic setting, most people don't refinish their floor enough to wear through the real wood layer on engineered hardwood, so both are viable options. One advantage to engineered hardwood is it is more stable then solid wood when it comes to movement due to humidity and temperature, as each laminated layer goes an opposite direction. Solid hardwood often has a higher resale value as far as renovations go.
Nail/staple down, glue down, floating click and floating glued
Almost all floating hardwood floors, as well as most glue down hardwood floors, will be engineered hardwood. This is due to the stability of the engineered hardwood, as well as it being thinner and more flexible.
Floating floors are great when you need a layer of soundproofing, such as in condos and apartments, and they are far easier and cheaper to remove if you ever decide to replace the floor. They are also good if your substrate has a lot of movement in it, due to shifting or sinking. Floating click systems go together the same way as a laminate floor, with a tension system, while floating glue systems have the same tongue and groove system as a glue down or nail/staple down, with each piece glued together as they are installed. Most floating systems are not conducive to patterns, borders or inserts. Floating systems do require a pad under it for sound reduction. When installing floating hardwood in condos or apartments check with your strata first to find out minimum soundproofing requirements in your building.
Glue down floors are used most often over hard surfaces that cannot be nailed into, particularly basements and in condos and apartments. If installing in a Condo or apartment you will often need either a double glue down system, where you first glue down a soundproofing pad, then glue the wood to that, or use a specific type of glue that includes soundproofing. This glue often will have an additional cost associated with it, and you often need much more as you need a thicker layer of it to achieve required soundproofing qualities. Check with your strata for minimum soundproofing requirements in your building.
Nail/staple down hardwood is the most common hardwood, although it dominates the market slightly less then it did a short while ago. This is how most hardwood in residential settings is installed, nailed or stapled directly to your wood substrate. If your substrate is properly prepared, flat and stable, it will last as long as the house, and can be refinished multiple times. Nail down systems are the best when you plan on having patterns, inserts, borders, or anything custom done with your floor.
In some areas with large swings in humidity it may be recommended to use both glue and nails to secure your floor, to help prevent gaps and movement due to contraction and expansion. In Kelowna, where Good Morning Flooring primarily operates, this is not needed or recommended.
Additional Costs to Plan For
Current floor removal
Hardwood ideally only goes on top of clean, stable and flat substrates, not old flooring. If you are installing floating hardwood it can go over hard surfaces as long as they meet flatness tolerances, though it may adversely affect the height of your floor where it connects to other material. The cost to remove old flooring varies dramatically, with removal of tile being the most expensive.
Making sure your substrate is within flatness tolerance of 1/8” over 10 feet can add to the cost quickly. You can choose not to level the floor, but be aware that it will void most manufacturer and installer warranties. Surface prep can be mostly labor, or labor and self leveler. Most installers offer this service.
Furniture and appliance removal and replacement
Furniture moving is often charged per room, or per hour, appliance moving is often charged per appliance. If anything with gas or water lines need to be moved, you will often need someone qualified to unhook them and hook them back up. Most installers offer this service, except for the water and gas lines, which can require separate licensing.
Baseboard removal and replacement
When any floor except carpet is installed, the baseboard needs to come off and be put back on at the new proper height. Whether you put the old baseboard back on or install new ones will change the price by a large factor. Some installers offer this service.
Most installers get rid of the waste from installation, however, if the old flooring was removed, they may or may not include the price to take it to the landfill in their removal/demolition price. Most installers offer or include this service.
The hardwood itself is always separate from installation costs, unless you purchase from a supplier that does material and labor and offers one all inclusive price. Many stores offer installation packages with their product. The pad for floating installations, which ideally includes soundproofing and a vapor barrier, will normally be included in this package. If purchasing hardwood that will have a floating installation at a big box store, be sure to purchase the same amount of pad as well, as that is not included in installation prices. Most installers provide the glue for glue down installations, although note that if you need a glue that includes a moisture barrier and soundproofing it may cost extra.
On site finished hardwood
Good Morning Flooring currently does not offer on site finishing of hardwood or refinishing. We do offer installation of unfinished hardwood.
Hardwood Installation Prices
Base price nail/staple down: $2.50 /square foot
Base price floating click: $2.00 /square foot
Base price floating glued: $2.50 /square foot
Base price glue down: $2.75 /square foot
Diagonal or curved walls: Additional $0.25 - $1.00 /square foot
Small areas, no large rooms: Additional $0.25 - $1.00 /square foot
Under 300 square feet: Additional $0.50 /square foot
Minimum charge: $350 (IE. A small office or bedroom)
Inserts and borders: Additional cost per job, often based on linear foot
Patterns: Additional cost per job, often based on square foot
Picture frames and trap doors: Additional cost per job often per item
Stairs: Additional cost per job often per stair
There are always many variables to consider, so if you have work that needs to be done, contact us today for a quote!