Who said shopping for hardwood flooring was fun? There are so many factors involved, it’s overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin.
What kind of wood do I want?
Do I want it prefinished or unfinished?
Should I do the dining room and kitchen?
But can I really afford to do both?
Is it worth investing in hardwood or should I go with laminate?
Step number one is understanding the options. There are two types of hardwood floors you can put in your home — prefinished or unfinished. Prefinished hardwood floors are more common these days because they’re site finished at the manufacturer. The manufacturer mills the product, makes the boards, sprays a stain and then a finish, packages it, and ships it out to the store where it can be purchased, installed and you can walk on it right away. Nothing further is needed.
Unfinished hardwood flooring is installed the same way as prefinished, the only difference being after the boards are laid, the floor has to be sanded and stained on site — around 3 to 4 coats. Because of this, the floor isn’t ready to walk on right away. Some people like this method as it adds a more traditional look, so if you don’t mind waiting a few extra days, then go for it.
Prefinished and Unfinished Cost the Same With Installation
There are no dramatic cost differences between the two options, it’s really up to preference, but you will pay more for the materials for prefinished hardwood flooring since the finish is already done.
For good grade prefinished hardwood flooring you’re going to pay anywhere in the $4 per square foot range on the low-end up to $12 on average on Staten Island. There are also some high-end manufacturers that are doing reclaimed prefinished products including wide plank boards for $15-$20 per square foot. You should expect on average to pay on the low-end of $8 per square foot with labor and installation included up to $15 per square foot. A professional installer will charge anywhere between $3-$5 per square foot for labor.
Keep in mind, the wider the board, the more money you’re going to dish out, and when you go over 5 inches in width, the installer should glue and nail down the boards into a plywood subfloor, which is an added cost.
For unfinished, the material is generally cheaper. Oak, for example, can cost between $2-$3 per square foot. You’re just going to pay for the site finishing, which can range from $2.50-$3.50 per square foot.
Many things can add to the cost. If you have existing carpet, hardwood flooring or tile that has to be torn up, that’s more money. Hauling away of the materials is extra as well as the moldings and transitional pieces, which most forget. Sometimes the subfloor has to be prepared. If it’s not flat or leveled properly, proper steps must be taken to make sure it’s up to the manufacturer's standards in order to be installed. That can range from $3-$5 per square foot on top of labor.
Beware of $0.99-$1.99 per square foot hardwood flooring deals
Just like anything else, there are retailers that will advertise ridiculously low prices, but it doesn’t mean that you’re getting a deal. You’ll see $0.99-$1.99 per square foot in say, a circular, so you go racing over to the store to see what’s left and that’s one of the problems. Is there enough left?
“What you find from those retailers is they’ll buy these off good products from a manufacturer that closed and have 20,000 square feet of it,” said The Men With Tools Owner John Kolbaska. “They purchase a large quantity and then sell out within a day or two. They advertise these ridiculous prices to lure you into their store only to find it’s been sold out forcing you to purchase flooring at regular retail prices.
“If you do find these products available, you have to keep in mind that the manufacturer has sold this product off because there are either defects in the finish, milling or the widths of the boards may not be the same. Typically, if you’re paying less than $4 per square foot for solid finished hardwood, there’s usually a very good reason for it.”
Here are the most common prefinished wood flooring prices:
American Cherry $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
American Walnut $6.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Ash $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Beech $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Birch $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Brazilian Cherry $5.00 - $10.00 per sq. ft.
Brazilian Chestnut $7.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Brazilian Teak $6.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Brazilian Walnut $8.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Hickory $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Maple $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Red Oak $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
Rosewood $8.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Santos Mahogany $8.00 - $12.00 per sq. ft.
Tigerwood $6.00 - $10.00 per sq. ft.
White Oak $4.00 - $8.00 per sq. ft.
The following is what we charge for labor:
Nail down installation $2.99 per sq. ft.
Glue down installation $3.49 per sq. ft.
Floating installation $2.49 per sq. ft.
Remove existing carpet $0.50 per sq. ft.
Remove existing hardwood floors $1.00 per sq. ft.
Remove existing laminate floors $0.50 per sq. ft.
Remove existing tile $1.25 - $3.50 per sq. ft.
Haul away debris $0.75 per sq. ft.
Install baseboard moldings $1.25 - $2.50 per ln. ft.
Install shoe/quarter round moldings $0.75 per ln. ft.
Subfloor preparation $2.50 - $5.00 per sq. ft.
Right and Wrong Installation Methods
There are hundreds of different species of floors and manufacturers to pick from, which again, can make the task daunting. Plus, not only are you trying to figure out what kind of finish, species of wood and brand you want, you also have to research who you want to install your beautiful new hardwood floors.
Ninety-nine percent of flooring contractors don’t take the necessary precautions of acclimating the floor properly to assure you won’t have any problems. An experienced contractor will use a hygrometer and moisture meter to measure the moisture content in the air and percentage of water that’s in the subfloor before agreeing to install anything.
The type of flooring you choose depends on your living environment as wood is very sensitive to moisture. Too much of it and you’ll find your floor expanding, buckling all over the place. If you lay flooring that’s soaking wet and there isn’t enough of moisture in your home, the opposite will occur and you’ll find gaps between the boards.
What you also need to understand is the proper way of acclimating a floor. Letting boards sit for a week, doesn’t mean it’s ready to be installed. Opening the ends of boxes doesn’t mean the floor is ready to be installed either. A lot of the time, that flooring is coming from a hot, humid warehouse, so the boards are soaking wet. Unless you live in those same conditions, the boards aren’t ready to be laid. It could take weeks for that floor to be ready or even up to a month.
That’s why it’s important to get these readings, that way, if something does happen even after the flooring was properly acclimated and installed, if the defect is in the product, you’ll be able to claim it under your warranty and not get the runaround with everyone pointing fingers at each other.
What typically happens if you don’t have these readings, you’ll have to pay a flooring inspector to come into your home to test the flooring. They’ll ask you for those same readings too. If you don’t have them the inspector can turn around and say that it’s a site condition that’s causing the issues, so it’s your fault. And guess what? You have to rip up the flooring and start over again. Who likes throwing money away?
Hardwood Flooring Should Last a Lifetime
A wood floor should last you 100 years. It can be repurposed and resanded multiple times to look brand new. There’s no reason for you to be replacing your hardwood flooring, unless you really want to switch out the previous owner’s oak for bamboo or something like that. That’s why wood floors are a great investment unlike carpet, which has to be replaced depending on your living habits. You also can’t do that with laminate or tile.
“We see floors that were installed correctly that are 100 to 200 years old here on Staten Island,” John said. “There’s no reason why a wood floor should be ripped up after 10, 20 or 30 years. That’s ridiculous. A wood floor should outlive you and everybody you know.”
Are you in the market for wood flooring? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY who won’t lay and pray and will give you a fair price. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.