Hardwood Flooring Installations
Choose the Wood Species, Flooring Style, and Installation Method That Suits You
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While you probably already know that installing hardwood floors is a surefire way to add natural beauty and value to your home, you may be unsure of what all of your installation options are, as well as what to expect during the project. This buying guide brings you up to speed on what you need to know about hardwood floor installation, including how much it costs.
Hardwood Installation Options
Once you've got a wood species picked out, you should begin thinking about the following installation options:
Nail Down vs. Glue Down vs. Floating
The traditional way to install hardwood floors is to nail them to a wood subfloor, but depending on the type of flooring you purchase, it may also be possible to glue it down. And if you decide to go with engineered wood or laminate flooring, you may have a third option, a so-called "floating" floor, or one that isn't attached to the subfloor at all. Speak with a contractor to learn more about which options are appropriate for your home.
Prefinished vs. Unfinished Flooring
Buying prefinished hardwood greatly simplifies the installation process. Because it is finished in the factory, this type of flooring is more or less complete once it's laid down, requiring no onsite sanding, staining, or sealing. The same isn't true for unfinished hardwood, however. While unfinished floors give you more design options (they are available in greater variety than prefinished boards and can be stained any color), it takes more time and labor to prepare them.
Getting Through the Project
Hardwood installation tends to be a noisy, messy procedure. Be prepared for it by understanding the work that's involved.
- As early as a week prior to installation, the hardwood planks need to be stored in the room(s) where they are to be laid down.
- If you're having solid hardwood installed in the traditional manner, expect a lot of dust (from boards being cut) and noise (from the nail gun). For glue down floors, prepare for an adhesive smell until the glue fully dries.
- Unfinished boards will require extensive sanding and staining, and must be finished with up to four coats of polyurethane, which has a strong odor and requires 12 hours of drying time (during which you can't walk on the floors).
- The total installation time generally doesn't exceed five days, and if laying down hardwood in only one or two rooms, it might only be two or three days. But for larger jobs, especially those involving unfinished boards, installation might take a week or more.
Hardwood Floor Installation Costs
The actual cost to install hardwood flooring depends on the type and amount of flooring, local material and labor costs, the complexity of the job, and other factors.
- The high degree of variability between hardwood flooring types and installation methods results in a wide range in pricing. Laying down the new boards alone could cost you $1 to $4 per square foot. Add in cutting, subfloor prep, and other prep work, as well as removing and disposing of the existing flooring, and installation costs could jump to as much as $10 or more per square foot. And don't forget the material costs, which start at $3 to $5 per square foot and go as high as $10 to $15 per square foot.
- Overall, you're looking at a total cost of around $5 to $25 per square foot to install hardwood floors.
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