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  • Writer's pictureGwen Canfield

A Guide to Flooring Types and Costs

With a wide variety of flooring options available, the cost of flooring varies greatly. It can change by the manufacturer, square footage, and the quality of flooring you install. It can also vary based on flooring designs, patterns you add, and even if you lay flooring at a diagonal, which requires more materials. Here's a guide to help you make an informed decision on the flooring type that will be best for your space and your budget.

Hardwood Flooring

(Solid Hardwood & Engineered Hardwood)


Hardwood flooring offers a timeless appearance and the visuals and construction have been updated over time.

Hardwood floors can be quite versatile as well, fitting many types of climates and environments. For example, solid hardwoods perform especially well in mild climates with low humidity.

In addition, hardwoods come in various species, surface treatments, stain finishes and plank widths. Hardwood floors, both solid and engineered, typically offer planks that come in three-inch to seven-inch widths. These types of floors vary greatly, depending on the type of wood or, in the case of engineered hardwoods, the top wood veneer. 

  • Low-cost options are typically narrow width, smooth surface solid options in species that are easily sourced, such as oak, as well as engineered planks with a very thin top layer of hardwood. You can expect to pay around $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot of product plus additional installation costs.

  • Mid-range hardwood options include oak species in solid or engineered in a 4" or 5" width, with light surface treatment options and can cost $5.00 to $10.00 per square foot plus installation costs. 

  • High-end hardwoods, like harder species such as hickory, maple and walnut, are wide width and/or offer multiple surface treatments to include scraping and distressing. Engineered options in these species with very thick top layers also fall in this category and can start around $8.00 per square foot plus additional installation costs. 

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood flooring has lately become a popular option that has a natural hardwood top layer for a visual identical to solid hardwood. Together with multiple core layers, engineered wood floors are less likely to cup when confronted with moisture. and have the stunning authenticity of natural hardwood.

Waterproof Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT), Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP), Vinyl Sheet Flooring

Waterproof flooring makes a fantastic, durable option, especially for homeowners with pets and kids. Some of these durable, waterproof options include luxury vinyl planks and luxury vinyl tiles (LVPs and LVTs), as well as vinyl sheet flooring.

Waterproof flooring is one of the most loved flooring types by homeowners everywhere. Please note, however, there is a difference between waterproof and water resistant flooring.

With such a wide range of options for waterproof flooring, the cost can vary. LVPs and LVTs can be as low as $1.75 to $5.75 per square foot, which fluctuates according to thickness, core construction, wear layer, and warranty parameters.  

On the other hand, if it’s sheet vinyl flooring you desire, this can run between $.75 to $1.99 per square foot, which is more affordable than the aforementioned. The fluctuation of sheet vinyl is typically due to the gauge (thickness), backing, and level of design detail, such as embossing, that is achieved with modern technology.

Average Costs Costs for LVT and LVP

As mentioned, luxury vinyl planks and tiles are a great option for any high traffic room of the home. Cost-wise, they are an excellent and more affordable alternative to wood, stone and ceramics.

According to certain home improvement sites, the average cost of LVPs and LVTs is between $1.75 and $5.75 per square foot and breaks down as follows:

  • Low-cost LVP prices range from $1.75 to $3.00 per square foot, but most require adhesive and are thinner construction, without waterproof properties. 

  • Mid-range LVP flooring can run on average $3.50 to $4.50 per square foot and may be a happy medium if you’re looking for a lower cost product that can handle topical spills with water resistant properties.

  • High-end LVP flooring costs start around $5.00 per square foot, often lasting much longer and is also durable enough for light commercial settings. 

Average Vinyl Sheet Flooring Costs

In comparison to luxury vinyl floors, vinyl sheet flooring is an attractive and affordable option for homeowners.The recent addition of felt backing to many collections allows fast, glueless installation which is cost effective.

The one disadvantage to vinyl sheet flooring lies in its size. If you create an unsightly accident on the vinyl, it’s not as simple as replacing a plank or tile. It requires carefully cutting away the section and inserting a matching piece or, alternatively, replacing the entire sheet and floor, which is expensive in itself.   

According to RemodelingExpense, (as of 2024), standard vinyl sheet flooring costs rest in the range of $1.75 to $5.75 per square foot. This is a fraction of the price compared to LVPs and LVTs. 

To better understand this range, here is what you can expect: 

  • Low-cost vinyl is a thinner gauge, and designs are less realistic, but offered in stone and wood looks. It can cost as low as $0.50, but the average lies around $2.50 per square foot along with the additional cost of installation.

  • Mid-range is a medium thickness with fiberglass construction in fairly realistic wood and stone visuals. For something of this nature, the average price is $3.30 per square foot plus separate installation costs.  

  • High-end vinyl can reach $4 per square foot, but these are typically much more elegant with embossed, realistic texture and designs. The gauge (thickness) is very heavy, includes a textile backing and additional warranties to cover rips, tears and mold growth may be included. Glueless installation saves on costs and can handle subfloor imperfections.  

Laminate Flooring & Average Costs

Often confused with vinyl flooring, laminate flooring is constructed of a core made out of wood composite materials.

While not waterproof, some laminate flooring options can be water-resistant, meaning you should address any spills immediately.

Although this is a common misconception, its top layer offers plenty of durability, preventing the topical wear and tear. Due to this difference, it can offer a more budget-friendly option for those who do not need it to be a waterproof floor.

For the busy households of parents and pet owners, laminate flooring is a great choice, as it’s stain-resistant, fade-resistant and indentation-resistant. When it comes to cost, a quality laminate product can offer the same authentic visual as genuine hardwoods, but at a more affordable price.

Because laminate flooring is comprised of multiple synthetic layers that are bonded together, the cost is more affordable than hardwood flooring. Basically, this allows you to have the look and feel of hardwoods at a much lower cost. 

According to some sources laminate hardwood flooring costs can range from $2.50 to $4.00 per square foot and and are dependent on the quality of the wear layer and core construction. 

  • Low-cost laminate flooring has a low mm thickness and ranges in price from $2.50 to $3.00 per square foot. 

  • Mid-range laminate flooring has a thickness of about 10mm, with prices reaching more around $3.00 to $3.75 per square foot.

  • High-end laminate flooring, with about 12-14 mm thickness costs anywhere from $3.75 or more per square foot, and usually includes an attached pad and a locking system to eliminate underlayment and adhesives.

Additional Installation Costs to Consider

Usually when you sit down with a retailer to discuss your budget and the cost of your flooring project, the installation will be included. However, there may be unforeseen circumstances in your space that will add cost to both the materials used and the additional time  will drive labor costs upward. For example, your subfloor might need a little extra prep to smooth out imperfections, or it may need very involved prep and leveling products to correct uneven or damaged areas. Other costs to consider are the tear out and removal of the older floor, as well as the temporary removal and replacement of furniture. Worst case, your subfloor and floor joists may have moisture damage, which may even require a different contractor before you can get started.  When your retailer sends a technician to your home to measure, the space should be assessed and inspected to determine the necessary requirements for a smooth installation.

Aside from addressing preexisting conditions, installation costs can vary per square foot, based on the type of flooring, and the installation method required.  Costs will be higher for products that require adhesive, are difficult to handle, or require underlayment. You might pay more for a product with an attached pad, but it could pay off with savings on underlayment material and labor costs.

Hardwood flooring can cost about $3.50 to $4.50 per square foot for installation, based on a nailed, glued or floating application.  Vinyl sheet floors can be installed for $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot depending on whether it is full-spread glued, parameter glued, or it has a textile backing for floating.  Laminate and vinyl planks or tiles will cost $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot to install and pricing can fluctuate based on the locking mechanism, use of adhesive and the product’s ability to camouflage subfloor imperfections for the omission of extra prep work.  Remember, you may incur separate charges for moldings, specialty adhesives, vapor barriers and underlayment. Stair encasements should be priced out separately and will vary based on customization requirements.

Understanding The Importance of High-Quality Flooring 

With all these different flooring options within a wide range of costs, it might seem easy to just pick a cheap flooring type and quickly install the flooring yourself. However, flooring that is too cheap is most likely made from a low-quality or discontinued material. Additionally, these poor materials do not have the proper environmental certifications that high-quality flooring options have. So, although it might seem like a daunting task, it’s important to do your research when shopping instead of choosing the quickest option.

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Original article by Twenty & Oak:

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