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Laminate Floor Installation Costs

Cracked Stone
Cracked Stone

Laminate Floor Installation Costs 2021 (per sq. ft.)

Looking for accurate information about laminate flooring installation costs? You're in the right place. Over the years, I've been involved in hundreds (if not thousands) of laminate projects. I've seen it all. One thing I've learned is: laminate is one of the best overall bang-for-your-buck flooring options. Modern laminate is durable, cost-effective, and beautiful. Are you looking to install a new floor? Are you on the fence about laminate? Let's talk about it.

In this guide, you'll learn the answer to questions like:

  • What is laminate flooring?
  • What's the average cost of laminate flooring (per sq.ft)?
  • What factors go into determining the price of laminate flooring?
  • What's the average cost to install laminate flooring based on floor type?
  • What's the difference between laminate and hardwood?
  • The pros and cons of laminate flooring
  • Are there any additional costs associated with laminate?
  • How can you save some serious money on laminate flooring?

Let's dive into the wonderful world of laminate.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate floors are an economic type of flooring used in everything from low-budget rentals to luxury homes. Believe it or not, modern laminate flooring is incredibly smooth, aesthetically appealing, and functional. You can even get laminate with a fantastic moisture barrier. In fact, I use laminate flooring in my own home. It's getting really difficult to tell the difference between laminate and wood — especially to people without any experience with hardwood floors.

Typically, laminate is made with multi-layer synthetic materials. There's an underlay, a particleboard core, an image layer, and a durable layer at the top. You can also find laminate flooring that has actual wood particles in the mix, but it is a little more expensive. Despite its synthetic nature, laminate holds its own in popularity against hardwood, but carpet is obviously the most popular flooring option.

What Is The Average Cost Of Laminate Floor Installation Per Square Foot?

The total cost of your laminate floor installation project will depend on the price of laminate flooring and the cost of your contractor. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere between $0.55 and $8 per square foot for laminate flooring. Additionally, contractors can charge anywhere from $2 to $8 per square foot for installation. You can also install laminate yourself. I have a great video series where I break this down step-by-step that you can check out below:

I will warn you, the cost of DIY isn't always cheaper than contractors. If you have to purchase tools and additional materials, it may cost a little more. But you get to keep the tools so that's always an added benefit.

In total, you can expect to pay between $4 and $16 per square footage of space to install new laminate flooring. Remember, the overall cost of lamination installation differs by area. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, floor installation costs for contractors vary wildly by area. In general, areas with a higher cost of living also pay more for laminate installations. Again, this is a great option for a DIY home improvement project. You can easily find laminate online (like Pergo), or you can head down to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot if you want something immediately.

What Determines the Price of Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a great option for virtually every budget. So, you can definitely find laminate in your price range. That being said, there are some factors that go into the price of laminate, and you may pay more depending on what you want.

  • Abrasion Criteria Rating: Laminate flooring is graded by an AC rating, which ranges from AC1 to AC6. This rating determines how well your laminate stands up to abrasion, wear, and impact. In general, higher AC rated floorings will cost more than lower-rated floorings. Technically, AC1 is considered "for home use," but you can buy AC5 laminate for your home if you want something sturdier.
  • Wood type: Certain types of wood are more expensive, and higher quality wood may cost a premium.
  • Brand: Each brand carries its own reputation, quality, and aesthetics. I'm not going to recommend any brands, since this is definitely a preference-driven decision.
  • Quality: It goes without saying that higher quality laminate costs more. Don't get fooled by pricing alone. There are certainly some low-quality laminates that charge outrageous sums. When in doubt, talk to your contractor about their favorite brands. Chances are, they'll give you an honest opinion. They don't make any money on the laminate, and they've completed so many projects that they have experience with nearly every brand.
  • Warranty: Purchasing a warranty can also add some extra laminate flooring costs.
  • Additional installation materials: If you're going to DIY your laminate, you may need:
    • punches
    • a miter saw
    • sander (for uneven subfloors)
    • a carpenter square
    • a claw hammer
    • clamps
    • underlayment (sound-proofing may cost more)
    • glue
    • floor patching materials
    • tape
    • sealant/caulk
    • tape measure
    • circular saw
    • level
    • nails
    • laminate molding

Remember, every laminate job is unique. So, these extra costs can factor into your overall price. I've seen budget-intensive DIY projects, and I've seen some beautiful, high-end laminate projects over the years. It really depends on what you need.

What Is The Average Cost Of Installing Laminate Based On Wood Type?

There is a wide variety of laminate flooring options available. Typically, laminates like hickory and maple are more expensive than other flooring types due to their popularity. However, price varies significantly by quality, brand, rating, and distributor. Remember, laminate flooring often takes on the appearance of wood without any actual real wood inside. However, there are exceptions, and some higher-end laminate has wood particles.

Maple Wood

Most maple hardwood is made with sapwood. This light-colored wood features streaks of darker minerals and wavy grain. Since laminate is often an image layer, you can get maple wood laminate in a variety of colors, but they're often lighter and have that signature wavy appearance.

The average cost of maple wood laminate ranges from $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot. Luxury brands can charge up to $9 per sq. ft.

Total installation cost: between $3 and $14 per square foot

Walnut Wood

This dark brown wood is one of those instant classics, and it really just encapsulates the word "wood." It's strong, durable, gorgeous, and has a tight grain that can create some fascinating patterns. This wood is also fairly priced. In general, walnut wood costs a little less than oak and hickory. For my buck, this is one of the best woods on the market.

The average cost of walnut wood laminate ranges from $1 to $8 per square foot. You can also find luxury or bulk options for higher/lower prices.

Total installation cost: between $3 and $14 per square foot

Cherry Wood

The warm, rich, and reddish appearance of cherry wood makes it an instant classic for flooring projects. Real hardwood can be made from either the heartwood (i.e., the inner-trunk) or sapwood (i.e., the outer trunk). Typically, the inner-trunk is darker red while the sapwood is lighter and darkens less over time.

The average cost of cherry wood laminate ranges from $1.00 to $7.00 per square foot, depending on the brand, quality, and characteristics. Again, bulk purchases can cut this price to under $1 per square foot, but you have to buy a large amount of laminate.

Total installation cost: between $3.50 and $15 per square foot 

Beechwood

Beechwood ranges from warm to light-colored, and it has a silky-smooth appearance thanks to its straight, fine texture. Depending on the tender grade and finishing treatments, beechwood can take on a variety of appearances. Often, you'll find beechwood laminate that's light-colored or pink and extremely smooth — which helps each piece fit together seamlessly.

The average cost of beechwood laminate ranges from $1.50 to $8 per square foot. You can find high-end beechwood laminate that's rustic and made using heartwood, so this cost can certainly get higher. Buying in bulk can also save you some money. You may be able to find bulk beechwood for under $1 per square foot.

Total installation cost: between $3.50 and $16 per square foot

Acacia Wood

With a naturally fine grain and smooth finish, acacia wood is one of the most sought after and revered woods on the market. Acacia trees are grown across multiple continents, and there are over 200 million acres dedicated to cultivating this tree. Technically, there are 5 distinct species of Acacia that are common on the market, so there's some variation in appearance. From light brown and gray to deep, dark browns, acacia's smooth, fine attributes are available in multiple colors.

The average cost of acacia laminate ranges from $1.50 to $5.00 per sq. ft depending on the quality and brand. However, you may be able to acquire bulk acacia laminate for under $1 per square foot. But your project needs to be large enough to account for a large amount of laminate.

Total installation cost: between $4 and $16 per square foot

Red Oak Wood

This pink, reddish-brown oak is beautifully smooth with a straight grain (wavy in rare cases). I'm partial to red oak. With the right finish, the strawberry tones and light colors make this an ideal choice for virtually any room in the house.

The average cost of red oak laminate ranges from $1.50 to $6.00 per square foot. As always, luxury brands cost more, and bulk purchases cost less. Here's a tip with red oak. Many cream-colored oaks are actually red oak. The sapwood is pale, and since it's less valuable than the heartwood, it's often just marketed as "oak."

Total installation cost: between $4.50 and $16 per square foot

White Oak Wood

Not only is oak the most popular type of hardwood flooring wood, but white oak is the most popular type of oak. So, this is the star athlete of the woods. Luckily, these trees grow up to 100 ft, so they supply plenty of wood. That's good for you because white oak is downright gorgeous.

The average cost of white oak laminate ranges from $2 to $12 per square foot. I actually recommend the upper tier of this particular laminate. I find that cheaper white oak laminates are less realistic. For some reason, white oak seems to be one of the hardest woods to replicate with laminate.

Total installation cost: between $4.50 and $16 per square foot

Hickory Wood

As one of the more pricey laminate flooring options, hickory wood is an in-demand and incredibly beautiful flooring option. The heartwood is reddish-brown, and the sapwood is cream-colored. Often, hickory has a more pronounced grain, so many manufacturers dye hickory a variety of colors simply to showcase the straight grain. While hardwood hickory is often dry, laminate uses an image layer or wood-particle mixture, so it remains polished and smooth.

The average cost of hickory wood laminate ranges from $2 to $8 per square foot. You can also buy upscale hickory with better craftsmanship for up to $10 per square foot. Of course, you can also buy in bulk to cut the cost down.

Total installation cost: between $5 and $17 per square foot

What Is The Cost Of Laminate vs. Hardwood Flooring?

In general, laminate is cheaper than hardwood flooring. This makes it an attractive option for homeowners looking to save money. In fact, despite 79% of homeowners believing that hardwood floors are the best flooring option, laminate is still purchased in 30 percent of homes. The low price and wood-like appearance make laminate perfect for many homeowners.

Research shows that homeowners gravitate towards laminate flooring for kitchen and dining room spaces, while many prefer hardwood flooring in living rooms. However, there are plenty of homeowners who choose laminate in their living room due to price, ease-of-installation, and pet-friendliness. Honestly, laminate is a pretty great option for a variety of rooms. 

The average installation cost of laminate flooring (labor, flooring materials, tools, and installation) is between $4 and $16 per square foot, while the average cost of wood flooring installation is between $12 and $30 per square foot.

What Are The Pros and Cons Of Laminate Flooring?

Pros

  • Many laminate flooring comes with a soft, spongy foam underlay for comfortable walking.
  • Laminate flooring manufacturers provide a variety of textured, non-slip, and wear-resistant flooring.
  • Laminate has amazing durability and is often scratch-resistant.
  • Laminate is ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Laminate is much cheaper than hardwood floors.
  • Laminate makes a great DIY project.
  • Some laminate flooring is snap-lock, eliminating the need for glues.
  • Laminate is resistant to dust and debris, making it ideal for allergy-prone people.
  • The top layer of laminate is resistant to wear-and-tear.
  • It's great for pet owners.
  • Easy to apply over existing flooring or mortar beds.
  • Laminate requires far less care than hardwood and carpeting.

Cons

  • Laminate is not water-resistant, and the particleboard core is susceptible to rain, spills, and flooding.
  • You can't refinish laminate, so it doesn't last as long as hardwood.
  • Laminate doesn't add significant value to your home.
  • Since laminate isn't hardwood, it can feel and sound less authentic than wood.
  • Laminate is more resistant but not as durable as hardwood.

Are There Additional Labor Costs For Installation?

It depends! While the cost of underlayment and glue (if necessary) are often bundled into your labor cost estimate, certain factors can increase the final cost of your installation. As an example, your contractor may charge extra to sand uneven baseboards before laying the laminate. Also, you will be charged an average of $400 per 200 square feet to remove existing laminate floor before the project begins.

Additionally, every flooring contractor uses a different pricing structure. You may be charged by-the-hour, or you may be charged by-the-project. Typically, smaller rooms are more expensive than larger rooms on a per-square-foot basis. Since smaller rooms often require more cuts to the laminate, it's more labor-intensive for your contractor.

Always ask your contractor about their pricing strategy upfront. You don't want to run into any issues when you get the bill. You can also just post your product and get some fast bids from local installers, which you can sort by price. Once you find your match, contact them and discuss any labor questions. I'm sure they'll be happy to help.

How To Save Money On Laminate Floor Installation?

There are a few ways to save some money on your laminate floor installation. For starters, we recommend submitting your project for a bid with local contractors. You can choose the lowest priced option that best fits your needs. Don't rely on marketing gimmicks or the first result on Google. Get contractors to compete via bids to secure the best deal. Second, you can purchase laminate flooring that comes with underlying pre-installed on the bottom. This is often cheaper.

You can also try DIY to save some dough. But remember, this option is usually more expensive if you don't already have the tools. If you're worried about ad-hoc costs like uneven subfloor leveling, try some DIY self-leveling floor compound or rent a cheap sander.

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