So, you’re considering DIY wood floors but don’t know where to begin?

We know there’s a ton of information out there about DIY wood floors, but it can be difficult (verging on impossible) to piece it together. Every time you find the answer to one question, two more appear.

This is why we’re going to walk you through every aspect of DIY wood floors, from the cost of wood flooring to practical instructions on how to install hardwood floors. 

Part 1: Choosing the Best Wood Floors for Your DIY Project

How do you choose between so many different types of wood flooring? Which one is going to look the best, fit your lifestyle, and not kill your budget?

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood 

When comparing your wood flooring options, the first choice to make is between solid and engineered wood. Solid wood flooring is exactly what it sounds like: solid planks of wood that are put together to form a floor. 

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is made up of several layers. 

The top layer (aka the veneer) is a thin, solid piece of real hardwood. Beneath that top layer is either high-density fiberboard or, more commonly, high-strength plywood. 

The best engineered wood flooring products will often have a high-quality plywood core and a thick veneer. This thicker veneer will allow your floors to be refinished, if necessary (though this is much less of an issue if you buy prefinished hardwood flooring, as factory finishes are incredibly durable).

Engineered hardwood with click-together grooves

Just remember: one of the biggest engineered wood disadvantages is that it can only be refinished once or twice (if at all). Solid wood, though, can be refinished indefinitely. On the other hand, engineered wood is less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity than solid wood is. 

There are pros and cons to both options!

Shop By Brand

Take a look at the floor selections offered by our most trusted brands and find the one that excels at meeting your needs.

Hardwood vs. Softwood 

Don’t let the name “softwood” fool you—softwood flooring isn’t pillowy-soft and it doesn’t feel like carpet. The name simply refers to less-hard species of wood. 

The biggest thing to remember is that hardwood is more of a scratch-resistant flooring choice. Softwood can be an excellent choice for low-traffic areas of your home. And when they’re finished correctly, these floors can be almost as sturdy as hardwood. 

If you’re still not sure what we mean by hardwood vs. softwood floors, hardwood species include oak, maple, and walnut. Softwood species include pine, cedar, cypress, and hemlock.  

Hardwood Alternatives Can Be Great for a DIY Flooring Project

There are other flooring options that you use to get the appearance of wood in a more DIY-friendly format. 

In fact, there are tons of hardwood floor alternatives to choose from! Two of today’s most popular wood floor alternatives are LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and laminate. 

LVT is one of the best types of vinyl flooring around—it’s durable, easy to install, and waterproof thanks to its all-synthetic construction. 

Click-together LVT planks

What is laminate flooring? It’s a composite material that can be made to look just like hardwood. And it’s more affordable (and sturdy) than you might think!

You should also consider taking a look at wood-adjacent materials like bamboo and cork.

Part 2: Choosing an Installation Method for Your DIY Wood Floors

Here’s what to consider when choosing an installation method for your DIY wood flooring project:

Decide Between Staple-Down, Glue-Down, or Nail-Down Installation

Since it’s pretty difficult to drive nails or staples into concrete, glue-down installation is the preferred method if you’re installing wood floors directly onto this surface. That said, if you have a plywood subfloor, nail-down or staple-down installation is more traditional. 

You can also add an underlayment to a concrete subfloor to allow for nail- or staple-down installation. Yes, this is an extra step, but you’ll also be adding a bit more moisture protection as well as a sound insulator.

Or Choose the DIY-Friendly Alternative: Floating Wood Floors

If you don’t want to deal with stapling, gluing, or nailing, you can always opt for floating floors. Floating floors are surfaces that sit on top of—but are not attached to—their subfloors or underlayments. 

Generally, floating floors are created by using click-together flooring products. Click-together planks have special grooves that allow them to snap and lock into place. The strength of these connections keeps the floor in place without adhesives. Hence the name “floating floors”! 

One of their greatest benefits is the fact that they’re super DIY-friendly. Just measure your planks, cut them to size, and snap them together!

Part 3: The Cost of DIY Wood Floors vs. Professional Installation

The truth is that DIY wood floors will save you some money, but these projects create lots of considerations. 

Raw Materials Will Range in Cost 

As you’ve probably noticed, there are endless types of wood flooring to choose from. 

Usually, the harder and more exotic a wood species is, the more expensive it’ll be. That’s why engineered exotic wood usually costs less than solid exotic wood—it uses less of the exotic wood!

On the other hand, if you happen to choose a more common wood species (like oak), engineered and solid products will usually cost about the same amount.

The Average Cost of DIY Wood Floors May Be Higher Than You Think

After you consider the costs of your wood floors, you’ll also have to factor in all the tools and other materials (like nails and glue) that you’ll need to complete the project. Your costs will remain low because you’re not paying for labor, but there are a lot of hidden costs—tools, time, disposal, shipping, etc.

And with so many variables, it’s hard to put a finger on the “average cost” for DIY wood floors. That said, if you opt for professional installation, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4-8 and $3-10 per square foot in labor for solid and engineered wood, respectively. 

What Paid Installation Includes (and What it Doesn’t)

If you decide to hire someone to install your wood floors, their price may include the actual cost of the material. You should also find out if your installer includes job supplies, any necessary tool rentals, or any added fees. 

And remember: unless you negotiate a price with your flooring contractor, the quoted cost isn’t likely to include the removal of the old flooring nor its disposal. 

Our advice: just buy your floors from a flooring store in your area. It’s easier, it’s more reputable, and they always know what they’re doing.

Part 4: What to Consider Before Doing a DIY Wood Flooring Project

No, we’re not trying to talk you out of doing your DIY wood flooring project—we just want to make sure you have all of the information you need before you start! 

Wood Flooring Isn’t a Great Option for Every Room

We hate to break it to you: wood isn’t usually ideal for mudroom flooring, bathroom flooring, or kitchen flooring. Also, some types of wood can lighten with UV exposure, so you might want to pick another option for your sunroom flooring. 

Removing Your Old Flooring Could Be Harder Than You Think

The cost to replace carpet with hardwood isn’t astronomical, but it’s worth mentioning that removing carpet is a pain

Sure, removing carpet yourself will save money—but if you haven’t done it before, be prepared for an intense workout.

Do You Have Enough Time for a DIY Project

The thing is, DIY wood flooring isn’t the type of project you can just leave for another day. You’ll need enough time to remove your old flooring, prepare your subfloor (if necessary), and install your new floors before you can even enter the room you’re re-flooring. 

Granted, all of this doesn’t have to be finished in a single day, but it’s definitely not something that you can leave half-finished. 

Conclusion: DIY Wood Floors are Difficult, But Rewarding

Whether you’re excited to start your DIY wood floors or whether we’ve accidentally convinced you to go with professional installation, it’s important to talk with flooring pros before breaking ground. 

Use this flooring stores in my area search to find a reputable flooring store and qualified installers. It’s definitely worth it!

About The Author

Sarah Fogle

June 27, 2024

Sarah is a full-time freelance writer and dog mom with a slight travel addiction. When she's not writing or removing fur from all surfaces, she can be found helping "supervise" her husband's retail store, planning adventures, taking naps, or adding to her already large makeup & skincare product collection.