As a floor guy, I run into many customers asking what makes one hardwood floors cost more than another. I frequently get asked: ” How much does a hardwood floor cost?” That can be tricky, as there are so many options, choices and variations.
Overall, the main things that affect the cost of solid hardwood floors are species, grade, width and finish.
How does the species of a hardwood floor affect the price?
Species of hardwood is the largest factor in determining the cost of a hardwood floor. All things being equal, oak flooring is about the cheapest hardwood you can get. As you go to less common species such as maple, hickory or cherry, the price will go up. Moving into exotic flooring like wenge, zebrawood or ipe will drive up the cost of flooring materials even more.
How is does the grade of flooring affect the price?
Wood flooring comes in a variety of grades, which determine the overall character and variation between the planks. For example, oak hardwood flooring is graded accordingly:
- Clear – wood is free of defects, with a uniform appearance and few character marks
- Select – wood has a relatively uniform appearance, but has more natural character marks like knots and color variation than clear wood
- Common No. 1 – wood has more natural variation including color, mineral streaking and knots
- Common No. 2 – wood has a rustic appearance with larger knots and natural markings, or marks from machining.
In any particular tree, there is less wood that meets the criteria for a grade of “clear” than “common”. As a result, higher grades of wood within a species are more expensive than lower grades.
How does the width of hardwood flooring affect the price?
The wider the width of hardwood flooring, the more expensive it is going to be. The width may not seem like an obvious cost factor, but it is important. When you cut trees into wider boards, you will get less yield from a given tree. Wider boards are also more likely to have defects that will throw the entire piece out of grade, so a high grade, wide plank floor can be particularly costly.
How does the hardwood floor finish affect price?
When you are choosing the finish for your hardwood floor, your basic options are oil based polyurethane, water based polyurethane, or a more durable commercial grade finish. Prices vary due to the time involved in applying different types of finish, different drying times and the cost of the finish materials themselves.
In general, oil based finishes are the least expensive, followed by water based. Two part commercial finishes like Bona Traffic are most expensive because of the cost of the products themselves, and the fact that left over materials harden and cannot be saved and used for later coats or other projects.