Floors Uncovered

Hardwood Floors 2019 Price Guide: Materials, Installation, & Upkeep

May 30, 2019 10:30:00 AM / by Robert Lewis



The enduring reputation of the strength, style, and stability of hardwood is undeniable and that continues to make it the most popular flooring choice.

“Consumers in all markets continue to increase their preference for hard surface flooring...hard surface flooring could have accounted for 56.6% of total dollar sales and 50.6% of total square foot sales. This is up from 55.1% and 48.9%, respectively, in 2017.”

-Kermit Baker, Senior Researcher for the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University (Floor Covering Weekly, October 2018)


Hardwood floors are trending like crazy. No doubt about it! Even Harvard said so. But they do tend to be more of an investment because of the manufacturing process and the great quality they uphold.

Hardwood is one of the only types of material that add value when an appraiser is determining the price of the home.

There are different varieties of hardwood floors as well as hardwood alternatives that give you the glitz and glamour but might save you a couple bucks and offer some more durability at the same time.



In this article we cover:



What is the Cost?

Anyway, what’s the cost? As I said, there are many factors that determine the cost you would be paying specifically, but it typically starts around $1,000 at about $6 to $10 per square foot. However, part of the beauty of hardwood floors is that you can go all out or save a ton of money. The final price has a lot to do with however much you’re willing to spend.


The price of wood fluctuates based on its availability, the demand for it, its hardness and its finish.

Because of the amount of moving variables the Red Oak flooring you want could cost $4/square foot one month then $6/square foot the next. In fact, some of the pricing is dictated by the weather! If a hurricane wipes out farms that carry a certain wood, you can count on that wood increasing in price.

But much like the weather, we can at least predict how much you could be spending. Here is a formula that might help you measure a price.

It does not account for installation prices because, much like the price of the wood itself, it varies on a case by case basis.



Price Customizer Formula


I’ve gathered some common types of wood used for floors, common board sizes, common rooms in the home and the prices/sizes of each. Go ahead and plug in some numbers - I’ll give you an example of how to see your estimated cost!




Excellent! Now that we have this sorted out, plug in the numbers that are the closest to what you’re looking for! Use this:




**Not included is the cost of installation which varies from real to engineered and other vinyl options.


Beware the short answer!

It is easy to succumb to the price shock when shopping for hardwoods and try to find other options. I’m here to show you that other great options do exist and not to worry about these general prices!


It’s important to take the time and understand what goes into the installation and everything that the home and the family will get out of new hardwood floors in the long run.


Acclimation and Humidity

The most important part of the process is acclimating the hardwood in the area in which you’re installing the material. For every inches wide the board is, it needs 24 hours to acclimate to the humidity. Once installed, the room where hardwood needs to be kept between 35% and 50% relative humidity.

If the humidity is too high, the boards could press up against one another and cause damage. If the humidity is too low, it could create gaps between the boards. Luckily, if you catch this happening, it could have the potential to be reversed by adjusting the humidity accordingly.

There is so much to consider when looking into hardwood floors and one of the first things to understand is the difference between Real and Engineered hardwoods. Let’s break those down real quick!


Real versus Engineered Hardwood

Real hardwood that we use for floors comes from trees that were farmed and harvested specifically for flooring. There is an incredible variety of species that are available and you can mix and match different ones when replacing your floor for a one-of-a-kind design unique to you!

They are cut in different ways during the manufacturing process so you can take your pick when picking your floor!


Screenshot (1)



Plain Sawn! It is the most common type of cut because it has the least waste out of all three options.





It also offers the widest boards and a ton of grain variety. I’ll save you the Google search, it refers to the natural irregularities of the wood that make it beautiful! Some examples of grain variety include knots or discolorations.


The difference between real and engineered hardwood is that it is constructed in layers and plies for stability instead of slabs straight from the log.

The log is used in its entirety (no waste!). Engineered wood is rotary peeled, and is less expensive engineered floors. They are peeled off, much like an apple's outer red layer peeled away from the inner core. This is less expensive, but much more prone to scratching and nicking. In addition, the graining looks very different when the wood is cut this way.

You solved the equation above and came to a rough idea on what you could expect to pay for a specific floor in a specific space before the cost of installation.

We looked at how it is created and how that plays a role in its cost. Now I’d like to break down the biggest factors that dictate the cost after its made so that you can familiarize yourself with the why and maybe it will help inform your decision.





Real wood is rated through something called the Janka Rating that is determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The higher the rating, the harder the wood!

The higher you climb in the rating the more expensive it typically gets due to the durability. The woods that have a lower rating are softer and have an increased chance of cracking or denting.

Birch and Red Oak are among the lower rated woods that are often used because they fit a great price and offer a sturdy floor.




The next factor when determining the cost per square foot is supply and demand. I mentioned that the rarity of certain woods makes them more expensive. So I decided to consult one of our representatives to find out more about how supply and demand effect cost. Assuming that the higher the hardness rating was, the more expensive the product. Following that logic, I asked if they sold a lot of Douglas Fir (the softest on this chart) because I figured it would be the cheapest!

They replied, “I’ve actually never sold a piece of Douglas Fir in my life!”

Since Douglas Fir is not in demand, the supply is limited. This makes it more likely to be one of the most expensive on this list despite it being the softest wood. Pretty interesting, right? You could be paying the same price for the softest woods as the hardest!




What does it mean for a hardwood floor to be finished, you ask?

It just means that it’s given a protective coat of UV treated polyurethane to give it a glossy layer of protection.

You can finish Real Hardwood in the home or it can be finished at the factory - the pre-finished being the most popular choice.

Only factory finishes contain Aluminum Oxide which has superior resistance to micro-scratches. There is also an option with Titanium included in the finish but it is much more expensive and therefore, not a popular choice.

Most Hardwood flooring purchases are pre-finished woods because they go through a rigorous quality control process where they are made.

Engineered Hardwood is always factory finished. The same goes for Real Hardwood but you do have the option to finish it in the home. This is usually only a popular choice when someone is building a house so that way they can install the unfinished floor and finish it on-site after all of the work is done so it has the brand new look.

During the on-site finishing process, the house will definitely be out of commission for at least a week because of the harsh chemicals that become airborne during the finishing process.




Unfinished Real Hardwood is about half the price of finished but the cost of finishing it in the home would essentially make it the same price if you were to buy it pre-finished.

So there is a cost to consider when choosing finishes and if you want factory finished hardwood or unfinished hardwood. Much of the options are determined by preference and taste!

You came here because you wanted to know how much it would cost to install a hardwood floor in your home and you were met with math, a chemistry lesson and a ton of info.



Your final cost is based on your needs, taste, and budget as well as the three factors we just discussed - hardness, supply and demand, and its finish.

The goal here was to help familiarize you with the wonderfully complex world of hardwood floors!

The next step is to get in touch with a professional so they can answer your questions and listen to your needs, taste and budget options.



Topics: cost, hardwood, diy, installation, maintenance

Robert Lewis

Written by Robert Lewis

Digital Content Manager - Floors and Kitchens Today