Your thinking about some new hardwood floors, but theres one question thats looming over you! How much do real hardwood floors cost? Let’s start with a really simple answer and get much cheaper into it further into the article. 
Sanding a newly installed white oak herringbone floor located in St. Joseph, Michigan.

Unfinished Hardwood Flooring Cost

Including material, installation and finishing by a professional hardwood contractor, real hardwood floors will cost in the range of $19-25 per square foot. 

Pre-finished Hardwood Flooring Cost

Pre-finished hardwood material and installation by a professional hardwood contractor will cost you on average 12-20$ per square foot.

LVP & Laminate Flooring Cost 

Material and installation by a professional flooring contractor will cost you in the range of $8-15 per square foot. 
We need to go a lot deeper on species and types of hardwood to give you a much more accurate estimate. Of course nothing will replace a quote from you local hardwood flooring contractor but we have a pretty good idea because that’s what we do. We provide hardwood installation and refinishing in southwest Michigan and northwest Indiana daily, so we will give you some very accurate numbers here. 

Distinguishing Between Flooring Types

We first  need to make some distinctions between different types of hardwood flooring, because it means different things to different people. Here are the three different types of flooring that we will cover known as “Hardwood flooring” to most people. 
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring: This is brought to the job site as raw lumber. It is then sanded, stained and finished on site. This is what we call “REAL” hardwood floors. 
Pre-finished Hardwood Flooring: These wood floors are sanded and finished at a factory or saw mill then brought to the job site to be installed. The always have a small bevel on the edges of the boards. 
LVP and Laminate Hardwood Flooring: These are not real hardwoods. They are made from plastic, cork or other man made materials. They float over the subfloor. That means they never have nails or glue to hold them down. They often can look very similar to real hardwood but upon closer inspection they will be completely different. 

Different Labor Costs For Different Types Of Hardwood Floors

For every floor that goes in, we have to account for the cost of the flooring as well as the labor to install into it. For LVP and laminate flooring and pre-finished hardwood floors, we just have to account for installation. For unfinished hardwood floors, we also have to consider the cost to sand, stain and apply the finish coats. Let’s look at each category more closely. 
We will get into each of these costs separately and you can add them together to come up with your total estimate. 

Cost Of Unfinished Hardwood Floors

Labor costs stays in the same ball park for most the different species of unfinished hardwood floors, but material cost ranges widely. We will first cover installation pricing, sanding and finishing pricing and finally the different material costs depending on which species of wood you go with.

Installation Pricing For Unfinished Hardwood Floors

The basics of installation of an unfinished hardwood floor include prepping the sub floor for any high spots, applying some type of moisture barrier and finally fastening the hardwood planks into place. 

Other Factors To Consider

Here is a list of other factors to consider, refer back to this for later types of flooring as well. 
  • Is the layout of the space very open or smaller and closed off? 
  • Is demolition of old flooring needed? 
  • Is the sub floor reasonably flat or does it need major alterations? 
  • Is the wood from a high quality saw mill that makes for easy installation or a low quality mill where the boards barely fit together? 
  • How is the floor going to be fastened down? 
  • For wood up to 4.25” wide, nails (staples or cleats) are sufficient.
  • For wood 4.25”- 6” wide, it needs to be glued as well as nailed.
  • For wood 6” wide or more, it must be full trowel down glue as well as nails if possible. 
  • For installs over concrete, full trowel glue will be required. 
  • How wide is the flooring? 
  • How long are the planks? (Cheaper saw mills have shorter planks.)
  • What is the layout of the hardwoods? Straight? Diagonal etc? 
For your standard hardwood install over a good wooden subfloor expect to pay on average between 5-9$ per square foot for labor depending on the factors above. 

Herringbone Installation Cost 

You should expect to pay twice as much or more. Herringbone hardwood flooring is a very time consuming item to installl and requires much more skill than straight layed hardwood floors. A safe range would be 10-20$ per square foot. 

Sanding, Staining and Finishing Pricing

This process is slightly more expensive on certain species of hardwood. For example pine costs more because it gums up the sand paper with sap. Maple cost more because it is extremely hard. You also will pay more to have a floor stained then to have it just finished with a clear polyurethane. 
To have your hardwood sanded and finished with 3 coats of a high quality water based finish, expect to pay $6-10 per square foot. If you want it stained (the color before the clear coats) as well, expect to pay $1-2 per square foot more. 
Natural white oak herringbone floors finished with Berger Seidle Green star located in St. Joseph Michigan.

Unfinished Hardwood Material Pricing

We need to break down these costs into the different species of hardwoods because prices vary dramatically. We will also go one step further and give you a price range for narrow plank flooring as well as wide plank flooring. That’s because wide plank floors can easily cost twice as much as narrow plank. 
For narrow widths, 2 ¼” and 3 ¼”  wide are the standard sizes and wide plank is 4” and wider with most hardwoods not measuring more than 8” wide. 
All prices reflect what a professional company would offer for you. There are many grade 2 and 3 floor options available for much cheaper than what is listed here. 

Red Oak 

Red Oak is your most common and your cheapest option for new hardwood floors. The tree is found commonly in the USA and is the easiest to work with type of flooring. 
Narrow plank red oak will cost on average $3-6 per square foot. 
Wide planks  will cost on average $8-10 per square foot but can easily be more. 

White Oak 

Installing 5 inch wide white oak floors at an angle inside of a home located in South Bend Indiana.

White oak hardwood flooring is much more expensive than red oak. Thats because it is a less common tree in the USA and it is also much more popular (which drives up demand.)
Narrow plank white oak will cost on average $5.50-8 per square foot. 
Wide plank will range widely. You may find some for $8-10 per square foot, but many high end products and special cuts of the tree will run $12-15 per square foot. 


Hard maple is very popular within gymnasiums but also can be found in many homes. While its not as popular as red and white oak, its the third most common of the American hardwoods. 
Narrow plank maple will cost on average $4.50-7 per square foot. 
Wide plank maple will often need made to order and will cost in the range of $8-12 per square foot with some products being even more expensive. 


While Hickory has become slightly less popular in recent years, we still see it regularly. Due to its extreme variations in wood grain we often see customers choose it who like a rustic look. You have probably seen some character grade hickory flooring before, but some high end flooring saw mills also produce a select grade hickory that is consistently more expensive than the average character grade. 
Narrow plank hickory will usually run between $4-7 per square foot. 
Wide planks will run $8-10 per square foot for more. 


The ash tree has been decimated nationwide by the Emerald Ash Borer Beatle and many flooring mills no longer sell it. If you can find it, it’s usually more expensive than your average wood floor due to the scarcity. 
Narrow plank ash will average between $6-8 per square foot. 
Wide plank will vary greatly but will usually be between $10-14 per square foot. 


There is much false information on the internet about pine flooring being cheaper than other types. These rumors circulate because bloggers think that because pine lumber is cheaper than hardwood lumber. What this doesn’t account for is that pine is a very uncommon type of flooring. Most people don’t want pine hardwoods because its too soft (although different species of pine are quite hard.) Because of this, it’s not widely manufactured and prices are higher on it. 
To further add to the complication, many manufacturers sell pine flooring by the board foot, rather than the square foot. (Which is another topic that deserves its own blog post.) All that being said, narrow plank pine can be purchased for 6-8$ per square foot and wide planks will usually range in the 9-13$ per square foot range. 
Narrow plank pine can be found for $7-9 per square foot. 
Wide plank pine flooring can range anywhere from $9-13 per square foot. 

Walnut Flooring

If you have a large budget for you hardwoods, you might want to consider walnut. The dark, rich looking hardwood is often considered the most luxurious of all the hardwoods. The price point is reflective of that!
Narrow plank walnut will range in the $7-10 per square foot arena. 
Wide plank walnut will range between $11-16 per square foot.  

American Cherry 

This is a fairly uncommon type of hardwood to find. That’s probably because red tones have been on the outs in the past few years. Expect prices of it to vary widely. You may find a good deal on it similar to oak or it may be custom order only and be quite expensive. 
Plan on a range of $6-12 per square foot. 

Exotic Hardwoods 

There are several exotic hardwoods found commonly in homes built in the early 2000’s. We see lots of Brazilian cherry, and occasionally we see Brazilian tigerwood. Prices vary widely on these types of flooring.
For narrow planks plan on 7-9$ per square foot. Wide plank is very uncommon in the exotic species. 

Pre-Finished Hardwood Floor Costs

When working with pre-finished hardwood flooring, you no longer have to pay a hardwood refinisher to sand the floors flat and finish them. You just need to add up your installation and material prices

Installation Pricing For Pre-Finished Hardwoods 

Installers have to be more careful when installing pre-finished hardwood floor. That’s because they are working with the final product! So expect to pay a higer installation rate than you would for raw hardwoods that are sanded and finished after installation. 
For installation of a standard pre-finished hardwood floor, expect to pay in the range of 6-9$ per square foot. Consider the list above in above under installation pricing for unfinished hardwoods to get a better idea of what might affect your pre-finished installation. 

Material Costs For Pre-Finished Hardwood Floors

The cost of pre-finished flooring varies drastically depending on a number of options. Let’s take a look at them. 
 Is it from a low quality mill? Cheaper mills will have shorter boards, the wood will often be rushed through the drying process and the tongue and groove will not fit together as nicely. 
What is finished with? Just like the floors finished inside your house, different manufacturers use different finishes on the wood. If the floor is hand pre-finished using a hard wax oil, expect to pay a lot more than for flooring finished with aluminum oxide in a Chinese factory. 
What species of wood is it? Just like we went over in the previous section, different types of hardwoods cost different amounts. 
Is it solid hardwood? Some pre-finished floors are engineered. That means they have a plywood bottom and veneered hardwood top. Thats okay if the hardwood layer is 3mm or thicker. If the veneer top is less than 3mm, it is a throwaway floor that can’t be refinished. If the veneer top is 6mm thick, thats actually a better product than most solid hardwoods. 
Narrow plank pre-finished hardwood floors can run anywhere from 4-8$ per square foot. 
Wide plank pre-finished floors can range drastically. Some can be purchased for 6-10$ per square foot, while other high end floors can be 15-20$ per square foot OR MORE! 

LVP and Laminate Costs

When working with hardwood floors that are not nailed down, we call those floating. To be clear, they are not actually real wood. They are made from plastics, cork and glues. They are held down by the weight of themselves and the trim on the edges (no nails.) They have a tongue and groove system that clicks together and stays together using friction. This is by far your cheapest option for plank flooring. 
For floating floors we must account for installation prices and material prices. 

Installation Pricing For LVP and Laminates 

Floating floors are the most DIY friendly to install and in some ways are easier to install. That being said we still need to account for the following: 
How open is the layout? Open layouts are very quick to install, while tight spaces are very slow and difficult. Probably even harder than real hardwood floors. 
How flat is the subfloor? Floating floors need a very flat subfloor or else air pockets form underneath causing them to move up and down as they are walked on. Over time, they will fail if this happens. 
Will you handle the trim or will the contractor? Remember floating floors are held down on the edges by the trim. Whether its baseboard, shoemold or quarter round it will need installed after the floor. 
What level of quality is the LVP/ laminate? Low quality products are EXTREMELY hard to click together. They also have a tendency for the tongues to break and to come undone over time.  At Lumberjack Hardwood Floors in St. Joseph, Michigan, we only install a few select brands for this very reason. 
For LVP/ laminate (floating floor) installation expect to pay 4-8$ per square foot. 

Material Costs For Floating Floors (LVP & Laminate) 

The range of pricing available for floating floors varies widely and may be very confusing. You can find floating flooring for as cheap as 1$ per square foot from cheap retailers and other luxury lines from companies like Coretec for as much as 13$ per square foot. This is a category of product where you get what you pay for. With incredibly cheap products expect them to very hard to install. 

Cost To Replace Old Hardwood Floors

If you currently have existing hardwood floors but you don’t want to go the refinishing route, your probably wondering how much they would cost to replace. Thankfully most of the information you already read in this article is applicable to your situation. With that being said, there are a couple items that can really affect your price we need to cover. 

Should You install Over Old Hardwood Floors Or Rip Them Out? 

You may be thinking it would be way easier to just install your new hardwood floor over the old one. However, I want to caution against this. The only time this is a good idea is when your old floor is a solid wood floor thats very stable and your just putting new LVP or laminate over top. 
If you want knew ¾ inch thick wood floors, you generally should rip them out. If you don’t your new floor is likely to interfere with cabinets, doors and appliances. It also is more prone to squeaking and being unstable. 

How Much Does It Cost To Tear Out An Old Hardwood Floor? 

The cost to tear out an old hard old hardwood flooring is in the range of 3-5$ per square foot plus the cost of a dumpster rental or some other type of disposal. Removing old hardwood floors is a difficult and time consuming process. 

DIY Vs. Professional Hardwood Installation

You probably have thought about attempting your new hardwood installation yourself. Well this can save you some serious money, you need to consider the downsides.

Hardwood Installation Tools 

To install hardwood flooring your going to need the following tools: 


Miter saw: For end cuts. 
Table saw: For long rips. 
Oscillating saw: For undercutting door jambs. 
Jig saw: For any curved cuts. 

Nail guns & Air Powered Equipment

Air compressor and hoses: To power nail guns. 

Floor nailer: This does the bulk of your nailing through the tongue of the hardwood. 

Brad nailer: This does your top nailing on the edges of your floor where the main nailer won’t fit. 
Hand tools: Mallets, nail punches, etc. 
If you don’t have these tools you can rent most of the things listed on this list. 

Carpentry Skills 

Hardwood installation is not hard for someone with decent carpentry skills. The hardest parts are setting a straight starting line, closing the wall rows up, and working through door jambs. If none of those sound too hard, your probably up for the challenge. 

A Strong Back and Knees

You may think your physically up for the challenge, but we hear frequently from homeowners who have tried to DIY there hardwood floors how hard it was on their bodies. It’s not uncommon for someone to start a project and then call us to help finish it because it was so much harder than they realized. 
If your new to installing wood floors, you probably won’t be able to install more than about 150 square feet per day. This number varies depending on how open the space is of course. 
If you have the tools, the skills and the body, you can pull off a hardwood floor install no problem. If you do it yourself, you should save yourself between $5-9 per square foot in labor costs. Just remember it will probably take much longer for you than it will for them. 

Hidden Costs To Be Aware Of When Installing New Wood Floors 

There is a reason contractors call it an “Estimate” when they come out to price your job. Some things just can’t be predicted.

Bad Sub Floors

The biggest factor that can lead to unexpected costs is having the sub floor covered up by carpet, old hardwood or anything else at the time of estimate. Over my career I have ran across rotten sub floors, termites and other rare but problematic items that were covered by the old floor at the time of the estimate. 
The best course of action is to get your original estimates to make sure you can afford the project, then go about removing any old flooring covering the existing sub floor. At this point ask your contractor to come do another walk through and make sure his original price is still good or if he will need to increase the scope of the project. 

Ordering Extra Flooring (Overage)

If you measure your own floor ahead of time you will come up with a number of square feet that you think you should be charged for. But often the contractor is going to come back with a number thats bigger than yours. Thats because at the end of every row of hardwood, the board will need to be cut. This true almost everywhere your floor meets the wall. The pieces that are cut off during the installation process are waste product that generally can’t be used later. We call that waste factor. 
A good contractor always plans for extra material to cover this. We order 10% overage at Lumberjack Hardwood Floors so that we never run out mid project. This number should change depending on the layout of the installation. But 10% is a good baseline. So if you have 600 square feet of space, we will charge you for 660 square feet to accommodate the excess material. This may come as a surprise on the estimate so prepare yourself now! 
If you need residential wood flooring services we cover southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana with our services. For gymnasium refinishing and installation services we cover Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.