I have a confession, frugal friends.
Brace yourself, this involves money – lots of money.
My husband and I just spent nearly $20,000 on a home remodeling project. I know that sounds crazy for a couple of frugality bloggers, but hear me out. Based on the fact that we owe so little on this home and it has gone up 20K+ in value the last two years, we decided to make it more livable by knocking out a few walls and creating an open floor plan. It’s our “forever home,” after all, so we feel we can justify the expense.
Most importantly, I have the entire sum saved in cash so I don’t have to put off other financial goals – or worse – go into debt to complete this project. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen! Am I right??
Around a third of the $17,000 initial estimate for the project was for replacing the floors on almost our entire first level. That includes the purchase of approximately 920 square feet of new flooring, plus the cost of labor and other flooring materials. To save money, we did the demo ourselves. It really pissed my dog off, but we did save around $2,500 for our efforts. However, we decided not to DIY new floors since we don’t have the skill, time, or desire to install them ourselves. Capiche?
How Much Do New Hardwood Floors Really Cost?
Since I had never purchased new hardwood flooring, this was a new experience for me. Sadly, I quickly learned the decision wouldn’t be an easy one. Not only are there dozens of different kinds of hardwood, but you can also get engineered hardwood or laminate flooring that looks very similar to hardwood. There are also various types of installation to consider, including nailing floors down, gluing them to the sub floor, or floating the floor with interconnecting planks. Then there are fees that have nothing to do with the actual flooring, including delivery, moving furniture, and preparing the sub floor.
The whole thing was confusing to me, which is why I spent weeks pouring through our options and securing the best deal. The crazy thing is, I could have paid a lot more money if I hadn’t been paying attention!
Crazy Flooring Fees to Watch Out For
I do not enjoy shopping at all, and shopping for flooring is no exception. I absolutely loathe it, mainly due to the fact that floors cost so much money! I also had trouble keeping track of the myriad fees some floor stores charged for various services. Here are a few crazy facts I uncovered as we shopped for floors at nearly every store in Central Indiana:
- Fact 1: The cost for installation varies from store to store, with nail-down installation going for anywhere from $2 per square foot to $3.50 per square foot. Installation for click-locking floors in my area ran around $2 per square foot, as did glue-down installation.
- Fact 2: The type of flooring you choose will determine how much you need to spend on an underlayment. The cost of an underlayment can add another $.60 per square foot to your total or more depending on the type of installation you choose. And if you want a fancy underlayment, it can cost a whole lot more!
- Fact 3: While nail down installation costs more, you may not need a pricey lining under your floors if you go this route. In other words, the price between a more expensive nail down floor and a cheaper floating one can be insignificant once all costs are factored in.
Hidden Costs of Hardwood Flooring Installation
While we ultimately chose our flooring at Lowe’s, we did get quotes from a few competing stores. Comparing the fees from various stores was quite the eye-opening experience. While some stores tried to nickel and dime us, others charged almost nothing outside of flooring, labor, and materials. Here are some crazy fees we noticed on various quotes we received:
- Home Depot charges a $59 delivery fee for your floors in our area – even if they’re doing the installation! Worse, they also charge $1.29 per box if you want someone to bring said floors into the house! Apparently delivery means to the end of your driveway.
- Many of the stores we visited charge a fee to come out and measure your rooms for new flooring. Home Depot and Lowe’s, for example, charged $35.
- Some stores charge top dollar to remove and tear out your old floors before they install the new ones. To remove our old hardwood floors, for example, some stores we visited wanted another $3 per square foot. That’s why we ultimately decided to do the demo ourselves.
- Watch out for additional fees charged for moving appliances or uninstalling/reinstalling toilets. Lowe’s wanted $79 to change out our toilet before and after the install, so we decided to do that ourselves. They also wanted $40 to move our appliances back in place, which I initially thought was crazy. On second thought, however, we decided to pay that sum so we didn’t ruin our new floors.
What We Paid
After price-shopping for what seemed like forever, we ultimately settled on an engineered wooden flooring from Lowe’s that matched our existing woodwork. Sadly, Lowe’s informed us that they stopped carrying that floor just a few weeks prior, which meant we had to start the process over. While that made me crazy at first, I was happy to hear that Lowe’s agreed to price match if we found a more expensive floor we liked just as much.
Fortunately, we were able to take them up on that deal, as we ultimately found a similar (but a whole lot nicer) hardwood floor we liked even better. But instead of paying full price for it, their price matching policy meant we paid just $3.29 per square foot, which was the price of the discontinued flooring we picked out. Score!
That was super sweet, I thought, but that’s not the only reason we went with Lowe’s. Unlike some of their competitors, Lowe’s doesn’t charge a fee for delivery or for someone to carry the floors into your home. They also had extremely good customer service, which put my mind at easy for this expensive (and important) purchase.
At the end of the day, our hardwood flooring cost us around $6,900 including installation, the wooden flooring itself, a felt underlayment, transition pieces, and moving our refrigerator and stove back into place once the floors were done. Considering an estimate chocked full of hidden fees from a competitor ran over $12,000, I’ll take it.
Shopping for wooden floors is extremely stressful if you don’t know exactly what you want, but it’s even worse if you want to avoid all the hidden fees charged by various vendors. I personally think it’s crazy that some stores charge a separate payment for delivery, then another payment to carry boxes of the flooring into your home. However, my research shows that is actually fairly commonplace!
To get the best deal, it pays to get a full quote that includes all extra fees listed separately. That way, you can shop around for a better deal or at least see how the fees affect your total cost.
Now that it’s done, I plan to write a few more pieces about our home remodeling project – so stay tuned.
In the meantime, don’t shop for hardwood floors without arming yourself with information. With so many types of floors to consider – and so many fees to avoid – your dream flooring might end up costing a lot more than you think.
- My Frugal Kitchen Remodel
- My Frugal Bathroom Cabinet Remodel
- How We Went $3,000 Over On Our Home Remodel (and Why It’s Okay)
Have you ever purchased new hardwood floors before? What fees did you avoid?