How can you save money on your hardwood floors?
Hardwood flooring is a big investment, and an important one when it comes to the beauty and value of your home. Many are looking to save money on their hardwood floors, so I thought I would share a few ways that you may be able to save some money.
I need to preface this with a few thoughts. First, please note that you generally get what you pay for. There are plenty of ways to save money, but some of them (obviously) may also involve trade-offs in terms of the quality of materials or labor (or both).
Second, I think it’s smart to get a few estimates (e.g. 3) to get opinions on the best approach, get estimates, get timelines and find a contractor you feel comfortable with. During this process, I wouldn’t recommend that you go with the lowest price contractor (as that can often be a recipe for disaster, as I’m sure many of you realize), but rather, pick the one that you feel most comfortable with and the one that provides the highest value (i.e. you get the most for what you are paying for).
I wouldn’t go overboard and get tons of estimates. That’s a waste of everyone’s time, including yours.
Third, I want to point out that some of these suggestions are not for everyone. Different people have budgets; different people have different skills (some are DIYers and can do some of these suggestions; others can’t), different people value their time differently (e.g. I know some good DIYers but they value their time too much to spend it doing installation), different people value items differently.
You may love some of these; you may hate some. And, that’s fine. I’m hoping you like at least one of these suggestions. Or, else that this will help you justify and confirm your decision and your gut.
So, with that said, here are 7 potential ways to save money on your flooring.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
7 Ways you can save money on your hardwood flooring project
1. Rip up the carpet or move the furniture yourself
Yes, it doesn’t take any special skill to do this – just strength and grit. So, if you can do this (and you have time), more power to you. Just make sure you get rid of all the staples.
And, plan ahead on time, as it often takes longer than what you think it will, especially if you have carpet on the steps.
2. Make minor sacrifices on the type or grade of wood
Sometimes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and find that by making minor trade-offs, you can save a nice chunk of change. A good example of this trading from Select Grade oak down to No 1 Common. The hardness of the wood is the same, but the lower grade No 1 common has more color variation (see this article: Select Grade vs No 1 Common).
Some people prefer the added color variation. And, remember, when you are staining the floors dark, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the grades. (Note: I would avoid trading down to No 2 Common. This has a LOT of knots and a lot of short boards, and it is very noticeable).
Or sometimes, if you get a slightly narrower plank, it can save you a lot of money. One key breaking point is moving between a 4″ and 5″ plank. 5″ planks costs more, primarily because there is more labor involved. You need to both nail and glue (as 5″ wood expands and contracts more). So, you need to pay for the adhesive and the added labor.
Of course, you can also make more drastic choices (e.g. switching to a less expensive species of wood or less expensive product). And, you could also choose to install a laminate or luxury vinyl instead to save money.
3. Install the hardwood yourself
I recognize that this may not be a good option for most people, but if you are an experienced Do-it-yourselfer, this may be within your grasp. (See this article: 9 hardwood installation tools that every DIYer needs.
I would stay away from attempting to try to sand and refinish your hardwood floors yourself as it is rare that this turns out well (and in the end, when you rent the machines, it doesn’t save you that much money and it takes you way longer to than the professionals. It usually doesn’t look as good and it certainly doesn’t last as long, so it really doesn’t save anything in the end.
Alternatively, if installing solid hardwood floors is a bit beyond your expertise, you could try installing a floating floor such as Coretec Plus. Check out my review of Coretec Plus, and you’ll find a video on how to install it yourself.
4. Sometimes, you can save money by purchasing the materials yourself (or buying them online)…but be careful
Now, I have a whole bunch of cautions on this, so tread lightly here:
- Make sure you are in fact comparing apples to apples. I have had countless times where someone goes to Home Depot and they find a cheaper product…and they think it’s the same item…and, it’s NOT.
- Avoid Lumber Liquidators, or any big box store for that matter. Their quality of wood and milling is very low (so you will need to add adhesive to fill the gaps) and they tend to scratch more easily). That’s not even getting into the ethics of working with a company that has 3-4 class actions against them and apparently has formaldehyde in some of their products.
- Some top installers won’t be willing to work with you if you buy the product somewhere else. The job is now much smaller, and during the busy season, you are now a lower priority. Plus, they don’t know the quality of the wood (which can impact the quality of the installation).
- You will need to get all the matching moldings and make sure you have the right quantities (and extra for waste). Usually, this is not a big deal if you confer with your installer.
- You will need to take of the delivery and hauling the wood from the truck to your house (and upstairs if you are doing the second floor).
Sometimes, when you buy online, you find the same brand name/item for less as they order the product in bulk. Here are 2 places you can check:
5. Reduce the scope of work
If you have a limited budget now, remember that you can always do some of it now and some of it later (after you’ve saved more money). I always think it’s smarter to do something well (and the best way) rather than the cheap way.
I would make sure that you’re making sensible decisions here and not being “penny-wise pound foolish.” (e.g. when your project is broken up into too many small parts, you definitely lose some economies of scale and you want to avoid that.) Ask your contractor how to go about things in the most efficient manner if you can’t do all of it now. Sometimes, they will have a good solution for you.
You can also get estimates for more than 1 option (e.g. both floors vs. 1 floor). Or Sand & Refinish Natural vs. a Stain (Natural is generally less expensive). Of, you may eliminate some rooms that aren’t used as much (and do them later).
6. Buy the polyurethane yourself
If you are sanding and refinishing your hardwood floors, you may want to check out my article about the best brands of polyurethane and the ones I recommend. If you choose to go with the highest grade of water borne poly (Bona Traffic HD), it is more expensive and your installer will pass that price on to you with a mark up. I’ve seen a number of customers buy this directly and save a nice chunk of change. Amazon will ship this to you directly.
7. Schedule your work for the slower time – the winter
When it’s slower, some contractors are willing to reduce their prices a bit, especially if you have a larger project. Sometimes, due to lower demand, the wood is a bit less expensive. Note: If you get a large discount, it may be a sign that your contractor is desperate, and that’s never a good sign.
I hope these tips are helpful and enable you to find some savings without making large sacrifices. If you have other tips for saving money, please leave them in the comments below.
- How to prevent scratches in hardwood floors
- Hardwood cleaning products, felt pads and other hardwood accessories
- 9 hardwood flooring tools do-it-yourselfers need for wood installation
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors, whether they are light or dark
Do you need a local flooring contractor? Find one here.
For more info, check out my Ebook – Discover the 6 Secrets of Refinishing hardwood floors.