Laminate plank flooring is once again growing in popularity.
With so many styles, colors and designs to choose from, it is no wonder this flooring option is highly sought after.
Most major flooring brands will carry a large selection of laminate planks for you to browse through.
What about the costs, though? Like most flooring solutions, laminate has a lot of little costs that can add up quickly.
Is your budget prepared for a new floor? Have your heart set on laminate? You’re in the right place.
General Costs Associated with New Laminate Floors
- 1 General Costs Associated with New Laminate Floors
- 2 Measuring for Cost and Budget
- 3 How Much Does Laminate Flooring Cost?
- 4 What is the Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
- 5 Can I Afford to Install Laminate Myself?
- 6 Hidden Expenses With Laminate Flooring Installation
- 7 Pre-Installation Preparation and Cleaning
- 8 Post-Installation Cleaning and Maintenance
- 9 Repairs and Replacement
- 10 Conclusion
What are the major cost considerations when purchasing new laminate flooring? To be honest, there isn’t a lot. See below.
- Laminate planks. You need the planks if you are going to install them. Costs vary by brand and style.
- Underlayment. Some underlayments are optional. Your planks may already have them, or not.
- Sealant. To help with maintenance and water-tight protection, a sealant may be needed.
- Tools. DIY install? You need the tools and equipment to get the job done right.
- Professional Installation. Contractors will happily install your floor for you. At a cost.
Measuring for Cost and Budget
When planning the purchase of your flooring, you need to understand how the items are sold and bought. Part of that process is in the measurement of the items and your floor space.
When you are covering the floor with a new flooring, you need to know how much floor space is being covered. The measurement for this is known as square feet. To get the square foot measurement of your floors you take the length and width of the room (measured in feet, obviously) and multiply the two numbers together.
This square foot measurement will be the basis for all materials that you need to buy. The laminate planks, underlayments and other floor covering materials are all sold by the square foot.
However, when you make your purchases, make sure you buy more than the square foot says. You want more material for the install and repairs down the road.
Brand or Material Type
Each brand will charge different amounts for their laminate planks. Even inside the brands, you will find different prices for different types, styles or designs.
Installation comes with a host of other costs. No matter which direction you go, DIY or professional, each method has fees.
DIY installation has costs such as additional materials (i.e. underlayments, sealants, etc.) as well as the tools you need to perform the job. Where a professional will bring the right tools with them, you need to provide them yourself for a DIY job.
There are also other considerations when installing yourself, such as previous flooring removal or subfloor repairs. Most laminate planks are floating installs, which means they can install over existing flooring. However glued or nailed planks need to be installed directly on the subfloor.
Professional installers will add flooring and debris removal to their quotes and invoices, but a DIY install means you need to remove the flooring yourself or repair the subfloors out of pocket.
How Much Does Laminate Flooring Cost?
Laminate costs aren’t stagnant, nor are they uniform across the industry. Before you can determine a set cost for your floors you have to make a few decisions.
The first decision will be the brand of laminate. There are a lot of high-quality brands out there that provide a wide variety of laminate planks in various colors, thicknesses and styles. However, each brand charges a different price. To help your budget, it is good practice to find a style, which leads to a specific brand.
Once you have a brand in mind, you can then narrow your choices based on their line-ups and options. Once you get to this point in the decision making process the prices tend to level out.
However, if you select a specific brand, such as Mohawk (which is a mid-range, good-quality laminate), brings that range down to $1 to $4 per square foot. Further, if you select a style line up, such as RevWood Plus, then you can further narrow it down to between $3 to $4 per square foot.
As you can see, knowing the brand and even the style family can greatly impact your budget planning, making it easier to know what type of laminate and which brands you can afford.
What is the Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
When you hire a professional to perform the installation for you, there will be costs for the services. As mentioned earlier, professional installation has varying costs. This can include subfloor repair, older floor removal, additional material costs, as well as clean up and debris removal.
The prices for the service will range based on the amount of work (square foot area) as well as the region where you live and the company or contractor you hire.
When contacting these professionals, you should get at least three quotes. Make sure that each quote covers the cost of any repairs, debris removal and how the company will handle any unexpected situations.
Another factor is that many quotes will include the cost of the materials. This means that any remaining laminate will leave with the contractor, since they own it.
Since it is difficult to list costs for every region or contractor, we use averages. These averages are based on all of the factors including contractor vs. owner material supply.
According to Home Advisor, the low end installation range will be between $500 and $700. Higher end installations will exceed $4000. However, the national average range is between $1,397 – $4,242.
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Can I Afford to Install Laminate Myself?
Laminate planks are among the most DIY friendly floors to install. However, doing so takes some time and knowledge. However, with the costs of a professional installation looming, you may be inclined to attempt the install.
What we can tell you is that laminate plank install is beginner-friendly. That doesn’t mean, though, that it is budget-friendly. Aside from the cost of the planks, you are responsible for all the costs associated with the project.
For example, most laminate now comes with an underlayment or sealed bottom layer attached. Generally this is a form of rubber or cork. If your planks do not have an underlayment, you will need to purchase some.
On top of that, if you remove the previous flooring you will need to purchase the tools for the removal, as well as pay for the hauling away of the old material (not all local garbage companies will dispose of flooring).
When all is said and done, a DIY install is financially cheaper than a professional install. Depending on the install location and the type of laminate you purchase, for example, the only out of pocket expenses may be the laminate itself.
However, a good rule of thumb is to add about $350 to $500 per 1000 square feet for additional materials and costs.
Hidden Expenses With Laminate Flooring Installation
Whether you are performing the install yourself or reading the quote from a professional installer, there are hidden costs aside from the laminate purchase you need to be aware of.
Subfloors may or may not come into play. When they do it is generally a complete subfloor install, or repair. Most subfloors are fine, even after original floor removal. Sometimes, though, the cracks, breaks or damage needs to be fixed.
The cost will depend on the size of the repairs and the extent of the repairs needed. Sometimes it is cheaper to remove the subfloor and install a new one throughout the space. These costs will need to be evaluated, and unfortunately, it isn’t something you can see or evaluate until the old floor is removed.
Moisture barriers come in rolls and are the only thing that aren’t sold by the square foot (for the most part). Instead, the rolls come in linear feet. The packaging, though, will covert for you the linear feet to the square feet.
When purchasing a roll, you also have the option to use adhesive or not. Some barrier rolls require adhesive and others require that you don’t use any at all. When you choose the moisture barrier you need to check if there are additional purchases to make, such as the adhesive.
Even if you don’t need a moisture barrier, you will need an underlayment. Underlayments add support and softness to the laminate planks. They also give an added thickness to the planks which hold warmth and make the planks even softer underfoot.
The good news is that a vast majority of planks already have an underlayment attached. However, the lower end of the price planks make underlayments a separate purchase.
During the shopping portion of your process, you need to decide if you will pay for a higher prices plank with an underlayment or pay extra for a separate underlayment roll.
Laminate uses some waterproofing applications. However, laminate is not waterproof. As such the best you can get off the shelf is water-resistant. If you wish to have a more waterproof laminate, you will need to apply a sealant.
Some planks are starting to come with additional waterproofing through the wear layer, but until they are fully installed and sealed, they won’t be waterproof at all. A waterproofing sealant will help when you install laminate in semi-wet areas like the bathroom or kitchen.
Tools and Equipment
When doing a DIY install you will need some tools. If you already have the tools then there isn’t an additional cost to you.
However, the main tools you will need are a rubber mallet, which is fairly inexpensive, and a circular saw, which can get expensive. You will also need rubber spacers to keep the initial row inline.
One thing that the install will cost you is your time. There isn’t a way to put a price on that. A general install will take a full day.
This time, though, is assigned per room. If you are outfitting multiple rooms in your home, it will cost you multiple days of your time. While the project can be fun and rewarding, it can also take up family time or work time.
Deciding to do the project yourself saves a lot of money, but that financial cost may not outweigh the time cost.
Pre-Installation Preparation and Cleaning
Before you start the actual install process you need to prep the area. There are several steps to the preparations which are outlined below.
- The first thing to do is remove all the furniture in the room.
- Next, you will need to decide to remove the existing floor or not. If the current flooring is carpet, then removal is a must.
- After the floor is removed, you need to clean with a broom to remove any dirt and debris.
- Inspection of the subfloor comes next. You want to make sure it is flat and level and that any cracks are small.
- If there are larger cracks or extensive damage, it needs to be repaired before you continue.
- Next you need to go through the room and remove the baseboards and transition moldings.
- Another round of cleaning is in order now. Using a vacuum will perform the best removing any dust, dirt or debris.
- Once the room is bare and clean, you can lay the moisture barrier, underlayments and laminate planks.
Post-Installation Cleaning and Maintenance
Once the flooring is completely installed you will need to perform more cleaning and maintenance. The basic process is listed here.
- After the planks are laid, they need several hours (generally 15 to 24 hours) to expand and settle.
- Once the setting time has passed you can go through and replace the baseboards and molding.
- A good sweeping or using a great vacuum for laminate, will get the planks clean and all the dust from the small grooves between the planks.
- If you are going to seal the planks, now is the time to do so.
- After the sealant dries, you can use the room as intended. Moving the furniture back in is the final step.
Because laminate is not waterproof, you need the right cleaning supplies. This includes a good broom and dustpan, a vacuum designed for laminate or hard flooring and even a mop for laminate floors.
Repairs and Replacement
Laminate can last quite a long time. When properly installed and cared for, the planks can last up to 20 years or more.
However, children, pets and normal wear and tear can scratch or damage the planks. When this happens you will need to replace the damaged planks. This process can be difficult and time consuming, depending on where the damage is.
Laminate planks cannot easily be repaired. Unlike hardwood floors, you cannot sand or buff them down as this would eat through the wear layer and remove any water or stain fighting protection that is there.
Laminate floors are a popular and inexpensive flooring option, similar to luxury vinyl planks. Their rise in popularity is due to the lower cost and the thicker planks, instead of the thin rolls of laminate made famous in the 1960s.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of laminate plank flooring, it’s costs and installations. When you do choose your laminate flooring, know that you have a floor that will look new and be comfortable underfoot for years to come.