Flooring Price Comparison

    Flooring installation by Carlos/Wikimedia Creative Commons

    How much should you pay for a new floor? And how do different materials stack up, in terms of flooring price, installation, and best use?

    To accurately compare flooring price, check out this detailed cost guide.

    IMPORTANT: When you hire a flooring pro, specify in writing what the flooring price includes. For example:

    • demo and disposal of old floor
    • subfloor prep; trimming doors
    • removal and re-installation of moldings and appliances
    • onsite finishing of non-pretreated wood
    • cleanup
    • warranty

    Vinyl tile by gardener41/flickr

    VINYL

    Vinyl tile flooring is very affordable and easy to install -- ideal for DIY. Groutable vinyl tile adds a special touch to your floor.

    While sheet vinyl flooring installation is more complex (because the sheet must be cut to your room’s exact measurements and layout), it offers all the other advantages of vinyl tiles: moisture resistance, low maintenance, and a wide assortment of styles.

    Best use: Kitchen, bathroom

    Average vinyl flooring cost per sq ft: Materials $1-3; pro installation $1-2.

    Wood-look linoleum by Ruslan V. Albitsky/Wikimedia Creative Commons

    LINOLEUM

    Don’t confuse linoleum with vinyl. Linoleum flooring is a natural eco-friendly product, manufactured of linseed oil (hence the name), wood or cork dust, pine rosin, and mineral filler. More durable than vinyl, linoleum is higher-maintenance and benefits from occasional waxing and yearly application of a protective coating.

    Best use: Bathroom, kitchen, playroom, laundry

    Average linoleum cost per sq ft: Materials and installation $4 for sheet linoleum, $5 for linoleum tiles.

    Hardwood floor by Boa-Franc/flickr

    HARDWOOD

    Natural hardwood floors have a rich beauty that increases with age. Although hardwood is susceptible to water damage and staining, wiping spills immediately helps protect your floor. Badly worn hardwood flooring may be sanded down and refinished 5-10 times over the course of its life.

    Best use: Living room, bedrooms. Durable species are great for high-traffic areas like foyers.

    Average hardwood floor cost per sq ft: Depends on which material you choose, from American-grown pine (technically a softwood) at $1.50-$4.00 per sq ft, up to exotic hardwoods such as tigerwood or Santos mahogany, whose costs tend to start at $9+ per sq ft. Pro installation ranges from $2-$8 per sq ft, based on plank width and whether the wood is prefinished.

    Laminate floor by floorsmk (crop)/flickr

    LAMINATE

    Laminate planks imitate the look of hardwood at a lower price. If installed as a floating floor, they’re simple for do-it-yourselfers to work with. Be sure to mix planks from several cartons to vary patterning.

    While laminate floors resist scratching or sun fading, they’re not moisture-proof and can’t be sanded to remove stains or signs of wear. However, individual planks may be replaced if damaged. Some homeowners feel that laminate does not have the luxurious appearance of real hardwood floors.

    Best use: Bedroom, living room

    Average laminate floor cost per sq ft: Materials $1-6; pro installation $1-5

    Concrete floor by Decorative Concrete Kingdom/flickr

    CONCRETE

    Trendy concrete flooring is available in an amazing array of colors and concrete finishes. Concrete floors are low-maintenance if properly sealed; however, they are considered one of the least eco-friendly options. Concrete flooring above grade may require special reinforcement.

    Best use: Basement, outdoor living space, kitchen, bathroom, anywhere underfloor heating will be installed

    Average concrete floor cost per sq ft: Materials and pro installation total $2-$6 for a simple polished concrete floor up to $8-$15 for complex artistic designs and colorations.

    Carpet by Bill Wilson/flickr

    CARPET

    Carpeting keeps your rooms cozier, cushions floors, and reduces noise. However, it can have an adverse effect on indoor air quality, so use caution if household members are allergy-prone; choose low pile and vacuum frequently with an HEPA filter.

    Best use: Open plan rooms, chilly areas, staircases

    Average carpet cost per sq ft: Materials: from $1-$3 for polyester or olefin up to $4-$20 for wool. Pro installation: $.50-$1, more for labor-intensive projects like carpeting stairs.

    Ceramic tile by Arto Brick/flickr

    CERAMIC, PORCELAIN, OR STONE TILE

    Ceramic, porcelain, and stone tile are long-lasting, easy-care, moisture-resistant flooring solutions. They do not trap allergens or off-gas VOCs. Choose from a huge selection of attractive designs and sizes from 4”X4” to 16”X16”.

    The major disadvantage with tile is that it’s somewhat complicated to install, particularly if you select an intricate design. Stone tile installation is especially difficult due to its heavy weight.

    Best use: Bathroom, kitchen

    Average tile floor cost per sq ft: Materials $5-$15 for ceramic or $7-$20 for stone. Pro installation $6-$8 for ceramic, plus approximately ten percent more for stone tiles.

    Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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