Are you looking into ordering a new laminate floor? The average cost to install laminate flooring will range from approximately $540 to $2,000 for a floor of 200 square feet, or about $2.70-10.00 per sq ft. This represents the total cost of the flooring itself plus incidental supplies and labor by a qualified professional.
Why is there such a variation in the cost of installing laminate flooring? Here are several important factors that impact the price:
- Condition of the existing floor and subfloor. When your old floor is level, in reasonably good shape and not affected by moisture problems, the new laminate can be installed on top. Otherwise the existing floor will need to be removed and toted to the contractor's Dumpster or hauled away, at an additional charge.
Likewise for the subfloor. Removal of unsound subflooring may require the services of a carpenter and its replacement, if necessary, will add about another $0.30 per sq ft to flooring contractor’s quote.
- Carpet. Though laminate can be floated over most types of existing flooring, carpet is the one exception. No matter whether it is still in excellent condition, any existing carpeting will have to be removed.
- Complexity of the project. Installing laminate around heat registers or atop underfloor radiant heating, for example, requires careful planning and additional work. So does installation on stairs or in a room with an unusual layout like odd angles, curves, or tight corners – which means some of the flooring planks will need to be hand cut to fit.
- Extra services. If you expect your flooring contractor to provide extra services such as moving furniture out of the way, testing for moisture, or adding moldings, all these are likely to bump up the total cost.
- Location. Often contractors will charge for travel time to your home, particularly if you live in a remote area. In upscale urban areas such as Manhattan or Beverly Hills, home improvement services tend to cost more.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is a manufactured material, designed to mimic the look of upscale flooring at a more affordable cost. Composed of several layers of synthetic material and fiberboard topped with a photographic image (usually of hardwood or stone), it is well known for being budget-friendly and relatively easy to install.
How Are Laminate Floors Installed?
The ease of laminate floor installation is due to the way the material is processed. It is available in several shapes: long planks, rectangles, or squares. These are simply snapped together – usually working from the center of the room outward -- and floated above the subfloor, rather than being nailed down like carpet or hardwood. (That’s where the name “floating floor” comes from.)
Laminate floor repair is very doable. All it takes is un-snapping and replacing the damaged plank.
How Much Time Does Installing Laminate Take?
For an experienced flooring pro, it should take 5 hours to install 100 square feet of laminate; that is, 160 sq ft per 8-hour workday.
Calculate the total square footage you’d like installed. Then divide that figure by 160 to find out approximately how many days to allow for the entire project. For example, if you’re putting new floor in a great room measuring 450 square feet, your calculation will be 450 ÷160 = 2.8, or roughly 3 days.
How Soon Can You Walk on Newly Installed Laminate Floor?
Once the installation is complete, allow the floor to “cure” for at least 24 hours before you walk on it. Avoiding foot traffic during this period will help prevent unevenness of your brand new floor.
Even after the 24 hours are up, be kind to your laminate – it’s sensitive. Leave your spike heels (or cleats) at the door; otherwise they will cause unsightly dents. Protect it against abrasion by furniture “feet” as well. There are inexpensive stick-on felt pads sold for exactly this purpose.
Cost to Install Laminate Flooring: What it Includes
The cost of your laminate flooring installation will normally include:
- Laminate – Agree with your contractor ahead of time about who will purchase the flooring. You will need enough laminate to cover the square footage of the room(s), plus an additional 10 percent to allow for installation around curved edges, cutting allowance, etc. Supplier’s price for the laminate normally includes a non-transferable warranty against fading, staining, and wear, for up to 25 years.
- Additional Materials -- Also required are a foam underlay, a moisture barrier for laminate installed over concrete, spacers, wood glue, caulk, finish nails, silicone sealant, and replacement baseboard moldings if necessary.
- Labor -- Labor includes installation of the laminate flooring and also possibly repair or replacement of the existing subfloor. Labor costs will increase if the room is an irregular shape, complicating the cutting process. Moving furniture out of the room may be an additional expense, as well.
- General Contractor Supervision. If you’re installing laminate floors as part of a larger renovation overseen by a general contractor, expect to pay approximately 15-23 percent more.
Your cost will also include the following, unless you do this part yourself:
- Prep -- There is a major item of prep work to be done before your contractor begins to install the laminate floor. That consists of removing and disposal of one or possibly more layers of existing flooring.
While time-consuming, the task is not necessarily difficult and you might want to try it yourself in order to save some money, if you are reasonably sure there is no asbestos tile or lead-based paint underneath.
Should you choose to leave removal to your contractor, he will usually charge by the square foot. Precise cost depends on the material, with carpet removal as the cheapest, and removing old hardwood or ceramic quite a bit more expensive.
Return on Investment
If you’re planning to sell your home in the next few years, be aware that although installing laminate will add to your home value more than carpet or vinyl, it is not as desirable as engineered wood or natural hardwood flooring.
Hardwood, often considered the “gold standard” of floors, tends to reap the highest resale price. That being said, the initial cost to install laminate flooring is lower than hardwood installation.
Get the Most for Your Money
- The right type of laminate
Laminate floors are a great choice to mimic the look of upscale materials like hardwood , stone, or tile, at a fraction of their price. Make sure you buy the right laminate flooring for your needs; look at AC ratings on the product packaging.
AC-4, the most durable for residential applications, is perfect for your highest-traffic areas such as entranceways and games rooms. hallways, living rooms, and other high-traffic areas. AC-3 works well in throughout the house. The cheaper AC-1 and AC-2 are less commonly available and are best used only in low-traffic parts of your home.
- Laminate and VOCs
A disadvantage of laminate is that some kinds off-gas dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde. Keep your indoor air quality safe; purchase laminate flooring with low levels of VOCs or none at all. If your contractor will be using adhesive, request a VOC-free type.
- When to order
Ask your supplier how long shipping will take. Order your laminate flooring planks well in advance so you’ll be sure to receive them in time for your contractor’s schedule arrival . Factor in a few extra days as well, in order to let the planks “acclimate” – that is, to adjust to the humidity level and temperature of your home.
- Multiple contractor bids
Compare bids from several trustworthy flooring installers to find the best deal for the best price. (The “best” price is not necessarily the cheapest, but one that offers the best service and scheduling that suits your lifestyle. ) Once you’ve chosen your contractor, get all the details of your agreement in writing.
- Sealing your floors
Preserve the beauty of your new flooring. Be careful to seal laminate very well if you have it installed in a high-moisture area like the kitchen or bathroom. Laminate floors are vulnerable to warping, buckling , and even mold in overly damp conditions (Make sure you wipe up all spills promptly to maintain your lovely floor.)