The cost of hardwood floors is not as cut and dry as homeowners may like, but there is a reason for that; not all flooring projects are created equal. There are a number of factors to consider, some of which may or may not apply to your project. To better estimate hardwood flooring cost, we’ll break down each factor that can contribute to the final estimate.

For the purpose of calculating hardwood flooring cost, let’s pretend we are outfitting a living room that measures 15’x18’, requires one transition, and is being nailed down to a plywood subfloor. In addition, we’re going to break this down into two major categories: materials and installation.


There are pros and cons to both solid wood and engineered wood. Deciding between the two comes down to preference. Solid wood usually costs more than engineered wood, and requires long periods of acclimation and particular substrates for proper installation. Let’s pretend you decide you want an oak engineered wood floor priced at $3.99/sq. ft. In this calculation, you need to account for an extra 10% of flooring material for waste factor (cuts and occasional mistakes).

15’ x 18’= 270 sq. ft. + 10% = 300 sq. ft.

300 sq. ft. x $3.99/sq. ft. = $1,197

If you order online, then add a line for shipping cost. Our shipping cost is a flat rate of $199.

$1,197.00 – wood flooring

+ $199 – shipping cost

With this fictional living room getting new wood flooring, there needs to be a clean transition between entries to the room. Where two floors meet, a transition is recommended. Add that cost into the wood flooring cost.


$1,197.00 – wood flooring

$199 – shipping cost

+$79.99 – one transition piece

Materials Total: $1,475.99



Different installation methods call for additional products. For sake of calculating the cost of hardwood floors, let’s pretend that you will be nailing this floor down. Unless you are a professional flooring installer, we highly recommend leaving this installation job to a professional team.

Generally speaking, a professional flooring installation team bills by the square foot. Hardwood floor install cost is dependent on three steps (comprised of many smaller steps) of the process: subfloor preparation or removal, moisture testing, and flooring install. Since prices will vary by installer, region, demands of the job, we will focus on what each step entails, thus impacting cost.

Subfloor Preparation/Removal

This step often includes:

  • Demo of existing finished flooring to get to subfloor
  • Removal of adhesive residue from carpet pad, prior glued down flooring, or   mortar from ceramic / porcelain tile
  • Grinding / sanding to remove residue or subfloor inconsistencies
  • Floor patch or self-leveling compound to ensure flat / smooth surface for performance and structural integrity of new hardwood flooring

Moisture Testing

Moisture testing is imperative to an installation. Whether concrete subfloor or plywood, you should be testing moisture content to ensure it meets the manufacturer’s guidelines. A wood subfloor undergoes a moisture meter test to ensure both subfloor wood and new engineered hardwood are compliant according to manufacturer’s guidelines.

If a lot of moisture exists in the subfloor, then part of the install price will include the installation of a moisture barrier.

Other materials needed

If you plan to do the install yourself, note the following materials you will need. Prices for each of these items may vary. Reference your local hardware store for accurate cost breakdown.

  • Felt paper
  • Nails
  • Pneumatic nail gun
  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Tape measure or laser distance measure
  • Pen, pencils or marker
  • Flooring paper to protect newly finished traffic areas
  • Shims or spacers for proper perimeter expansion gap
  • Shop vacuum for frequent debris removal
  • Hardwood specific finished-floor cleaner
  • Patience 🙂

The cost to install hardwood floors is going to vary based on the cost of flooring material and installation method. This fictitious installation scenario should give you an idea of what to account for, and help you better understand how a professional install team prices different install jobs.

hardwood flooring cost