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July 29, 2021
How much does it cost to install laminate flooring? Is it as affordable as you’ve always heard? And how does it compare to the cost to install other types of flooring?
We certainly understand your questions! Buying floors is a big decision, and there’s a lot to take into consideration.
Plus, with so many types of real wood flooring and fake wood flooring on the market, you have a lot of info to sift through. But don’t worry—that’s why we’re here!
Below, we’re going to help you analyze the cost of installing laminate floors and put it into context, so you can make the right decision for your home.
We’ll go over the basic material costs of laminate flooring, plus the average cost of labor. Then, we’ll talk about variables that might make prices go up (such as style options and underlayment).
We’ll also explain how to find the best laminate flooring for you, and explain how the cost to install laminate flooring compares to the cost to install other types of flooring.
Ready? Let’s jump in!
First Things First: What is Laminate Flooring, Exactly?
So what is laminate flooring, exactly? Is it the same thing as engineered wood?
This is a question we hear a lot, so we wanted to make sure we’re crystal clear before we go any further.
Laminate is not real wood—it’s a hardwood floor alternative. It’s made of multiple layers, it’s incredibly durable, and it’s less expensive. And while some older versions (we’re talking from the 1970s and 1980s) weren’t known for their beauty, today’s best laminate flooring brands offer super realistic-looking products.
In fact, unless you’re a flooring expert, it can be hard to tell high-quality laminate from prefinished hardwood flooring.
Why Should You Install Laminate Flooring?
Flooring is an expensive investment, meant to last a pretty darn long time. It’s wise to weigh all the pros and cons before making your final decision.
The Advantages of Laminate Flooring
The potential to save money isn’t the only reason to pick laminate for your home. There are a ton of other benefits that come with this flooring choice.
Laminate is Known for its Durability
Did you know that laminate is an excellent alternative to even the most durable wood flooring options? It’s true! Laminate is famously tough; it can withstand high traffic areas, galavanting kiddos, and rambunctious pets. No wonder families flock to it! The relatively low cost to install laminate flooring is actually an excellent investment in a long-lasting floor.
Laminate is Versatile
You can have laminate flooring that imitates just about any material you want, from pine flooring to hemp flooring and beyond. If there’s a hardwood look you like, there’s a laminate version of that floor.
Looked into the pros and cons of hickory flooring and don’t like the cost? Get laminate instead.
Hate your cold kitchen floor on winter mornings? Nothing would be better than a heated wood floor—without paying those wood prices.
Worried about the fact that laminate isn’t 100% natural? There are non-toxic laminate flooring options out there that will satisfy even the strictest eco-friendly flooring criteria.
See? So versatile! There aren’t many surfaces that can offer all of that in the range of what it costs to install laminate.
Laminate is Easy to Maintain
Who wants a floor that’s stressful to maintain? Nobody has time for that. Laminate is fantastic for its ease of upkeep. A damp cloth now and again is the most work you’ll exert. How’s that for a time saver—and time is money!
Another big perk: since it doesn’t fade in the sun as readily as other materials, laminate makes for great sunroom flooring. And again: it’s so easy to maintain it in any space.
And of Course, The Cost to Install Laminate Flooring is Relatively Low
We’ll go into a ton of detail below, but the cost to install laminate floors is quite low compared to many other materials. Even the best engineered wood flooring—which is made specifically to be installed quickly and easily—isn’t as cost-effective.
The Disadvantages of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring isn’t too good to be true. But it does have its drawbacks, just like every other material.
Laminate Can’t be Refinished
Durable as laminate is, there’s bound to be wear and tear over the years. That’s no big deal for a hardwood or bamboo floor; you can just refinish it and it’s good as new again. Laminate, on the other hand, can’t be refinished.
One positive spin on this? You don’t have to worry about the cost to refinish hardwood flooring or refinish bamboo flooring. Silver linings, you know?
Laminate and Humidity Don’t Mix
If moisture seeps into non-waterproof laminate, you may end up with tremendous damage on your hands. The fiberboard making up your laminate flooring base layers will swell, causing the top layers to warp and buckle.
This could cause problems down the road, and ultimately cost you more money if you need to replace some planks. To get the most mileage out of your laminate flooring, be sure you aren’t placing your laminate floor in a moisture-prone area. Suffice to say: this stuff isn’t made to be an outdoor flooring option.
In General, How Much Does it Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. The cost to install laminate flooring can vary tremendously (we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars here). That said, if you included all materials and labor, an average laminate flooring project estimate would be approximately $2–$7 per square foot.
The final cost, however, will depend on several factors. The size of the space, the quality of the laminate, even where you live may all raise or lower your final expense.
Laminate may not approach wood flooring costs, but it can still turn out to be fairly pricey.
What’s The Average Material Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
You’ll likely hear a wide range of estimates for laminate flooring costs when you’re first doing your research. Until you have more specific information about your materials and room size, it can be hard to predict the final cost.
For materials alone, the cost can run anywhere from $2–$6 (or more) per square foot. Again, this range is largely dependent upon the quality of the laminate flooring. The national average for materials seems to run at about $1.50–$3 per square foot.
Some products, like TrafficMaster laminate flooring (a Home Depot exclusive), can cost as little as $0.60/sq. ft.
Luxury items like Repel (the flagship Shaw laminate flooring brand), on the other hand, can cost up to $5.50/sq. ft.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. More often than not, the best laminate flooring products are simply going to cost more.
And of course, the size of the room will be a major factor in determining the final cost of materials. A 700-square-foot space is a heckuva lot more expensive to cover than a 200 square foot room!
What’s the Average Labor Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
The cost of labor is often the most expensive part of any flooring project. Nationwide, the cost of labor averages out to around $1.50–$6 per square foot.
Just remember: the price of labor depends almost entirely on where in the country you live. Labor in suburban areas is usually cheaper; labor in competitive cities is usually more expensive. The cost to install laminate flooring in NYC vs. Nebraska, for instance, is night and day.
However, this price is also heavily determined by how you choose to install your flooring. Some methods are quicker and easier than others, (though that doesn’t always mean they’re better).
Here’s how it breaks down.
Installing Laminate as a Floating Floor (Cheapest)
What is a floating floor, exactly? It’s any floor that isn’t attached to a subfloor—rather, it “floats” on top of it.
Generally, this means click-together flooring—in other words, planks that snap together with tightly locking grooves. Some other floating products (like loose lay vinyl plank flooring), don’t snap together at all and rely on their weight and a grippy rubber backing to stay in place.
When we talk about laminate floors, though, “floating” almost always means click-together.
Either way, this method is the least expensive when it comes to laminate flooring installation costs, since it’s the quickest and requires no extra supplies or expertise. In fact, these surfaces are some of the easiest flooring to install in general.
You can expect to pay (very roughly) $1.50–$3/sq. ft. for labor when you opt for a floating setup.
Installing Laminate as a Glue-Down Floor (More Expensive)
There’s no mystery in how glue-down laminate flooring works. You glue it directly to the subfloor, just like you do with glue-down vinyl plank flooring or glue-down hardwood flooring.
This eliminates some of the traditional disadvantages of floating floors, like hollow-sounding footsteps. That said, it can take longer to install and requires more expertise—meaning the cost to install this laminate flooring is going to be a bit higher.
Additionally, many laminate floors are designed to be installed as floating floors these days, especially waterproof materials (we’ll talk about that further down).
You can expect to pay (very roughly) $3–$6/sq. ft. for labor when you opt for a glue-down setup.
Installing Laminate as a Nail-Down or Staple-Down Floor (Depends)
This installation method isn’t particularly common anymore, especially since click-together laminate has become so popular. With that in mind, the cost will fluctuate a good amount contractor-by-contractor.
And Remember: Designs Will Add to the Cost
If you don’t want a run-of-the-mill install, you might have to pay a little bit more for expert installation. For example, if you want to take normal laminate planks and arrange them in wood floor designs like herringbone parquet flooring, you’ll need an expert installer. And experts cost money!
Fun fact: some laminate can be purchased in these formats already! Check with a local flooring store to see what you can find.
How Long Does it Take A Professional to Install Laminate Flooring?
You can usually expect one room to take under a day. A complex space may add time to the process. If your room has a lot of odd angles, the installer will need to take more time to measure and cut planks to size. Tight spaces and subflooring that’s in bad shape will also add time to the project.
What Else Will Affect the Cost to Install Laminate Flooring?
What else will affect the cost of installing laminate floors?
The better question would be: what won’t affect it! The brand you choose, any special features you opt for, even the thickness of the planks can add cost.
Want a laminate that resembles wide plank wood flooring? You might have to pay extra, depending on the brand.
Appearance Will Play a Role in Cost
Remember: laminate flooring is not made of real wood. But just as with hardwood, the finish can play a role in cost.
If you’ve always dreamed of teak flooring but don’t think you could afford it, you can probably find a laminate substitute. The same goes for Douglas fir flooring, ebony flooring, even ash flooring.
However: because these wood floor patterns aren’t your run-of-the-mill looks, they may cost more.
Again: even though all laminate is made out of the same stuff (there’s no actual wood involved), the material cost to install laminate floors may be higher if you opt for a non-standard option.
So what are the standard options? Things like oak and hickory—you know, the basics.
Don’t worry though—deciding between hickory vs. oak floors will give you more than enough to think about. Hickory shades are darker and bolder, whereas oak comes in light wood flooring tones. The point is, you don’t need an exotic appearance to get a beautiful laminate floor.
Texture May Affect The Price of Laminate Flooring Too
Wood floor colors aside, the texture of your laminate’s finish can affect its installation cost just as much as its shade.
Embossed finishes, hand-scraped finishes, it can all change the cost of your floors. It totally depends on the product!
And Thicker Planks May Raise The Cost as Well
Interestingly, the thickness of a laminate plank has nothing to do with its status as scratch-resistant flooring—that’s all thanks to its wear layer and AC rating (which we’ll discuss in a moment).
However, thicker laminate planks can do a better job of absorbing sound and hiding subfloor imperfections. And while it varies product-to-product, thicker planks are generally more expensive.
Subflooring Conditions May Affect Your Wallet
Subflooring is an important factor to take into consideration when pricing your flooring. What is subflooring, you ask? It’s the surface that lies beneath your actual floor. If your subfloor is in poor shape, it will need to be repaired. Cement subflooring might need to be leveled or patched; wood subflooring might need a good sanding.
Your laminate flooring is only as good as the subfloor beneath it. Imperfections in your subfloor will eventually cause problems with your laminate, so it’s best to take care of them right away. You’ll be thankful for that peace of mind later.
Of course, subfloor adjustments will raise the overall cost to install laminate flooring in your home.
And Don’t Forget About Underlayment Pricing
Using an underlayment is always a good idea, especially when it comes to floating floors. At the very least, you will want to install a vapor barrier to stop moisture from destroying your floor from beneath. This should be factored into your laminate flooring costs.
Luckily, underlayment isn’t particularly expensive. It’s usually sold in 100-foot rolls for about $20 per roll. Again, the cost for this can fluctuate. Just as with laminate itself, the price is determined by the underlayment’s quality and thickness.
Fun fact: if you want to get really crazy, you can even buy an underlayment that can be used with magnetic flooring!
Or the Floor’s AC Rating, for That Matter
No, we’re not talking about keeping your home cool—we’re talking about Abrasion Criteria, or AC Rating. This measurement rates how scratch-resistant a laminate’s wear layer is.
The scale goes from 1–5, with 1 being the least resistant to damage.
Homes don’t really need to go above a level 4 AC rating. 5 is industrial strength, and only truly needed in public spaces that see a lot of traffic.
Is the Cost to Install Laminate Flooring Higher for Waterproof Products?
You might think the answer to this question is obvious, but it really isn’t.
See, as durable as laminate is, it’s not indestructible. Moisture and humidity can take a toll on laminate planks, causing issues like swelling and warping. But if you’re looking for an alternative to water-resistant wood flooring, laminate can get the job done.
These days, there are numerous waterproof laminate flooring products on the market, like Mohawk’s RevWood and Floor & Decor’s AquaGuard laminate flooring.
But while you might assume these products would be more expensive than ordinary laminate, you’d only be half right. In fact, many of them are actually priced at a similar level to other laminate floors!
Plus, these surfaces often need to be installed as snap-together floors in order to make use of their waterproof properties. That means you’re looking at a less expensive floating installation too!
Does Waterproof Laminate Actually Work?
Before we move on, let’s address the big wet elephant in the room.
Yes, waterproof laminate actually works. But as always, it depends on what you want to use it for.
See, all of the best vinyl plank flooring brands qualify as waterproof vinyl flooring, because vinyl is waterproof by default. So if you want a floor to go in an area that will see a ton of standing water and abuse (mudroom flooring, for instance), you’re probably going to want to go with vinyl.
But if you want the look of a wood floor bathroom or a kitchen that will only see some occasional splashes, waterproof laminate is perfectly suitable. Plus, it’s less expensive (and easier to come by) than real waterproof hardwood flooring.
Don’t Forget to Check Warranties Before Purchasing
Laminate flooring warranties often cover general wear and tear, things like fading, stains, and defects. Most will cover around 10 years, but you’ll find warranties that vary. You can find some for as little as 5 years (or nothing at all), and some that are for a lifetime.
Whatever you do, be careful to not void your warranty. Make sure that you follow all directions when installing and maintaining your floors—you’ll be thankful if you ever need to cash in on your warranty.
Repair Costs for Cracked Laminate
Repairing damaged laminate flooring is no easy task. It’s tedious and takes a long time. In some cases it’s preferable to replace the whole floor; you may not be able to find planks that are a perfect match for the area you’re replacing.
Replacing even just a patch is pricey, too. For materials and labor, you can end up spending anywhere from 50%–100% more than you paid for installation. With that in mind, it’s always better to stay up on your warranty.
And Don’t Forget About the Cost to Remove and Replace Your Old Floors!
Removing old floors can raise your laminate flooring installation costs by quite a bit. It may be possible to install a new laminate over a floor that’s already there, but it’s best to remove the floors when you can.
How Much Laminate Flooring Do You Need to Buy?
To determine how much flooring you’ll need to purchase, determine your square footage. Don’t remember high school math class? Here’s the Cliff Notes version. (Yes, we know they don’t have Cliff Notes for math. Just go with it.)
- Measure the length and width of your room.
- Don’t have a perfect square or rectangle-shaped room? No problem. Just divide your room into squares/rectangles for easier measuring.
- Here’s the math part: Length x Width = square feet
Add an extra 5-10% for trim and waste materials. You’ll likely be glad to have some to spare, and it will only increase your laminate flooring cost minimally.
The Cost to Install Laminate Flooring vs. Other Flooring Types
How does the cost to install laminate floors compare to the cost to install other flooring types? Let’s find out.
Laminate vs. Solid Hardwood Installation Costs
Is it just us, or does laminate vs. hardwood flooring feel like an age-old debate?
Solid hardwood certainly has its benefits. It’s highly desired among homebuyers, it lasts a lot longer than laminate, and it can be refinished an unlimited number of times (since it’s one solid block of wood throughout).
On the flip side, buying a hardwood floor costs a lot more money, for both materials and installation. The cost to install solid hardwood can range from around $5 well into double-digit figures per square foot, since each piece has to be carefully glued or nailed into place.
Laminate vs. Engineered Hardwood Installation Costs
There was a time when solid hardwood was your only flooring option. You could select any hardwood species, but that was about it as far as choices went. Today, however, you can find the best hardwood floors in both solid and engineered varieties.
What is engineered hardwood? And what’s the difference between engineered hardwood vs. laminate?
Well, engineered hardwood is real wood. But instead of being one solid piece throughout, it’s composed of a solid wood veneer bonded to a high-performance plywood core.
The overall cost to install engineered hardwood floors is cheaper than it is for solid hardwood (since you’re paying for less solid wood overall) but it’s not as inexpensive as the cost to install laminate: around $4–$8/sq. ft.
Plus, many of the best engineered wood flooring brands make click-lock materials now—meaning the labor cost to install these products is the same as the labor cost to install laminate. Are there some engineered wood disadvantages? Sure, but they’re small potatoes compared to the material’s upside!
Laminate vs. Luxury Vinyl Installation Costs
People frequently confuse laminate and vinyl flooring. That’s fair. They’re both popular, strong, (relatively) inexpensive wood flooring alternatives. But that’s where the similarities end.
The biggest difference between vinyl plank vs. laminate: vinyl is made almost entirely of plastic, which is why it’s sometimes called PVC flooring.
This makes it suitable for more robust uses—which is why outdoor vinyl flooring exists, but outdoor laminate flooring does not.
But how do these materials stack up in terms of installation cost?
As it happens, the cost to install vinyl plank flooring is almost identical to the cost to install laminate flooring—roughly $1.50–$6 per square foot. That’s because they’re usually installed in the exact same ways (though vinyl can’t be nailed or stapled).
Of course, exceptions do exist. Peel and stick vinyl plank flooring, for example, are much quicker and cheaper to install than a higher-quality rigid core luxury vinyl flooring product. That being said, the differences are relatively minor.
Just remember: vinyl may be waterproof, but you need underlayment for vinyl flooring just as you do for laminate, so keep that in mind when estimating your costs. Many of the best vinyl plank flooring brands come with pre-attached underlayment, though, making installation easier and less expensive.
Fun fact: one of the big disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring used to be its VOC emissions. These days, though, low VOC vinyl flooring brands have made the stuff super safe for all types of homes.
Laminate vs. Tile Installation Costs
There are many reasons why you may want to opt for tile vs. laminate or tile vs. wood floors. If you’re flooring an area that sees a lot of water, tile may be the better path.
And of course, there are countless types of floor tiles out there, from porcelain wood-look tile to natural stone and ceramic. Plus, tile is one of the most environmentally-friendly flooring options around. Because it’s made almost entirely of natural materials, it’s low-VOC flooring by default).
But here’s the thing. We’re talking about installation costs here. And the sad truth is that we can’t even give you an estimate of how much less it costs to install laminate flooring.
That’s because the United States is currently going through a well-documented tile installer shortage, which is driving prices up to astronomical levels.
With that in mind, you might end up paying more to install tile than to install any other type of flooring. Well, except for concrete flooring that looks like wood—but that’s because you need a literal concrete mixer for that.
Advances like snap-together tile flooring are helping to reduce that cost, but these products are still relatively new (and not always well-regarded by flooring pros).
Laminate vs. Bamboo Installation Costs
Bamboo is another floor that resembles wood. However, it’s a grass floor; a very strong, durable grass floor. The best bamboo flooring is on par with some of the strongest, most durable flooring on the market. Talk about getting more bang for your buck.
There are a lot of great reasons to consider bamboo flooring vs. laminate. There’s even an engineered version, similar to engineered hardwood (and you can read about engineered bamboo flooring pros and cons to learn more).
But when it comes down to it, bamboo flooring is going to cost the same to install as hardwood. Solid varieties can range into double-digit figures per square foot, while engineered varieties will run you $4–$8/sq. ft. for labor alone.
Laminate vs. Cork Installation Costs
Cork is yet another wood alternative, and an interesting one at that. The best cork flooring insulates your room from noise as well as cold. On the flip side, one of the greatest disadvantages of cork flooring is its inability to withstand water.
It isn’t going to be suitable for every home, but you’ll certainly enjoy investigating the pros and cons of cork flooring. It’s just that fun.
Anyway: cork also comes in solid and engineered varieties, so the cost to install it will be roughly the same as for hardwood. That is to say, more expensive than the cost to install laminate flooring, but less than the cost to install tile.
Pro tip: don’t buy the cork flooring Lowes and Home Depot sell. It’s not actually cork, for the most part.
The Cost to Install Laminate Flooring: FAQs
If you want the best laminate flooring for your home, we know you’re going to have some more questions. Here are some common ones we hear a lot.
Is It Worthwhile to Buy Cheap Laminate Flooring?
There are always budget-friendly alternatives to any home improvement project. And they should always be approached with caution.
In the case of laminate flooring, less-expensive options are often thinner and may not last as long as their more average-priced counterparts. Their thinner planks may make installation a bit more difficult, out of fear of breaking them. And more difficult installation equals more time, which equals more money. Suddenly the cost to install laminate flooring may go up.
Uh-oh. Perhaps cheaper laminate isn’t such a money-saver, after all.
Does that necessarily mean it isn’t worth it for you? Only you know your specific needs, so only you can answer that. But remember this: with laminate, you get what you pay for. And the best laminate flooring brands generally have a price tag that reflects that.
Is the Most Expensive Laminate Flooring Worth the Price?
Again, what are your needs? How long do you need this floor to last? If this is your forever home, you may want a higher-cost forever floor. If you think you’ll eventually move, then a less expensive flooring option may be ok.
After all, the cost to install laminate (for materials and labor) may be cheaper in the short term with a less-expensive brand. But if you have to replace it a decade sooner, was it really worth it?
Think of it this way. If you needed a vinyl floor to last a lifetime, you wouldn’t go with an ultra-budget offering like CoreLuxe or Stainmaster luxury vinyl. You’d go with something higher quality—a WPC flooring product like COREtec, for instance. The same is true for laminate!
Is it Hard to Install Laminate?
Laminate flooring installation is an intermediate-level home improvement project if you go with a click-together product. Glue-down installs are much harder.
How Do You Clean Laminate Flooring?
You don’t need to do much to keep your laminate flooring in top shape. You only need to use a damp cloth or mop with a mild cleaning spray to wipe it down from time to time.
Don’t ever use a steam cleaner in hopes of a deeper clean. That will be one sure-fire way to ruin your floors. Then you’ll find yourself shopping for new flooring—and once again facing the cost to install laminate flooring.
Can I Install Laminate Flooring Myself?
Sure! Laminate isn’t the world’s easiest do-it-yourself flooring, but if you’re savvy with home improvement (and don’t mind potentially voiding your warranty), this route may help lower your overall laminate installation costs.
Now that you have a better idea of what you can expect to spend on the cost to install laminate flooring, are you ready to make the next move? If you are, or if you have more questions, reach out to a top-rated flooring store in your area.
Flooring retailers are the real experts, and they’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction or provide more flooring ideas.
Either way, thank you for reading and we hope this guide to the cost of installing laminate floors was helpful!
Looking to read up a bit more on flooring? Yeah, we like to do that too. Here are some of our favorite articles:
Thank you very much for this great blog post.