We have lived in our current home now since 2007. That’s just over 12 years and during that time we haven’t done much to the floors around here. We had new carpeting in our living room, dining room, and hallway when we first moved in and truthfully, they’ve been looking pretty worn and stained to the point where it was really bothering us. After all, it wasn’t the finest carpeting when we purchased it and it really didn’t owe us anything after 12+ years of use, did it? It was time for an update and we decided on new laminate wood flooring.
When you do any home improvement, you often hear the abbreviation ROI (return on investment) mentioned. That’s why when we decided to make a change we asked ourselves this question:
“What might be the ROI if we purchase new flooring and besides the beauty aspect, does new flooring mean an increase in the value of our home?”
Flooring Is Such a Big Part of Your Living Space
Home flooring takes a beating every day (especially in my house) and it has a monumental responsibility: setting the design tone for your entire house. Those picture perfect pages of your Pottery Barn catalog don’t reflect the settled deep dirt in your carpet fibers or the normal wear-and-tear of any wood floors, does it? So having nice floors provides some enjoyment and good feelings every day you live with them.
But you can bet that if you are selling your home, buyers who come through your house for showings also have those beautiful magazine images in mind. They not only want floors in good condition, but materials that match the purpose of each room and look like a million bucks. Flooring is always an expense, but can you get a higher return on that investment with the right decision? After consideration, we found out that hardwood is still king. Hardwood floors though are the most expensive ones to buy.
Hardwood Flooring Will Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck at Resale
Sometimes you can’t beat a classic. And when it comes to homes and the type of flooring buyers love, hardwood floors have stood the test of time. Here’s some history about that.
Throughout the 18th century, wood floors evolved from bare lumber to checkerboard or geometric painted planks to match the ornamental interior design of the times. The late 1800s is when the polished hardwood floors so popular in American homes today started being produced in mass. Buyers who walk into a home will gush over a gorgeous hardwood floor if your home offers it.
Fact: 54% of home buyers are willing to pay more for hardwood floors when buying a house which will on average cost up to $2,000 extra over carpeting for an average 400 square feet, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
But Hardwood Flooring Is Not Just for the Wealthy
Hardwood floors aren’t just popular among luxury home buyers. A 2017 study from the National Association of Home Builders found that 87% of buyers in the $100,000 to $149,999 home price range want hardwood flooring.
Both timeless and versatile, hardwood is also more durable over the long haul than carpet (which ideally should be replaced about every 10 years). Recoating hardwood floors every 3 to 5 years or refinishing them every 8 to 10 years can make them last for the long haul. So the short answer to “does new flooring increase your home value?” is yes, if you’re smart about your selections.
What Should You Expect to Pay for Hardwood Flooring?
Installing about 400 square feet of prefinished hardwood flooring will cost an average of about $2,700 to $3,800 nationwide, including materials and labor. By comparison, installing the same amount of carpeting will cost a national average of about $1,300 to $1,800.
Prices will vary by location and company, of course. You can find out how much the job would cost you by checking and collecting a few estimates from local contractors and retailers. You can also get a range for your area with Porch which has data on over half a million projects with the Hardwood Floor Install Cost Calculator that gives you a price range for hardwood and other coverings customized to your very own ZIP code.
What We Chose Instead
We loved hardwood like so many, but it was just too expensive for us. That’s why we chose something that was very close to hardwood and actually mimics the look of hardwood, but is much more budget friendly: laminate wood flooring.
If you love the look of hardwood, but need to upgrade your flooring on a budget, you’ve got various options at your disposal. Carpets and vibrant rugs remain popular. And eco-friendly, organic materials, and innovative designs mean that homeowners have more flooring choices than ever these days. But, in the end, we chose laminate wood flooring in a shade of cherry wood.
Benefits of Laminate Flooring
While hardwood is the granite of flooring, the popularity of laminate is constantly increasing. Laminate flooring has come a long way in recent years. While it may not have been true in the past, it now comes in a wide array of styles, colors, and finishes. There is laminate available to mimic almost every different type of hardwood and it has the appearance of real hardwood.
Quick and Easy Installation
I use the phrase “quick and easy” here with a small caveat. We didn’t install it ourselves. Frankly, I am not that handy and at age 70, touching my toes is a real challenge. So installing a new floor…not really for me.
Besides, we have some big and heavy furniture that had to be moved around to allow for the installation. For professionals, it’s not a problem and it is included in the total price (thank God they don’t tell you the specific costs because I probably would object if I knew despite the fact that I really had to do it that way).
But they really did it with ease, and believe it or not, it was well worth it. Plus it was all accomplished in less than 5 hours!
Depending on the condition of your existing flooring and whether or not your subfloor is level and secure, you can sometimes install laminate over the top of vinyl, tile, or hardwood floors. This can greatly reduce the cost of installation by removing the need to rip up the old flooring and prep the subfloor. We had our carpeting removed and disposed of by the installers and it was done well and quickly to allow for the new installation.
DIY Might Work for You
Because of the ease of installation, you may want to do the laminate flooring yourself as it has become a popular project for DIY homeowners. But for us, the best decision was to hire professionals. They handled everything with ease and also had the expertise to give the new laminate floor that professionally finished look.
Why Laminate Is So Good
Simple to maintain is the key phrase here. Hard surfaces are always easier to keep clean than carpeting, plus you eliminate the need to ever hire professional carpet cleaners. Sweep, dust, or vacuum the floor regularly with the hard floor attachment to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grit that can scratch or dull the floor finish.
Because laminate is made from recycled wood flooring, when it comes time to mop it, the less moisture the better.
Use a cleaner specifically made for laminate or hardwood flooring and spray it on a microfiber mop, not directly on the floor. Mop up spills immediately. For stubborn spots like oil, paint, markers, lipstick, ink or tar, sparingly use acetone or nail polish remover on a clean white cloth. Then wipe the area thoroughly with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.
It’s Kid, Pet, and Allergy Friendly Too
Kids and pets can be rough on floors. While no floor is completely safe from either, laminate flooring has a topical finish coat or wear layer that makes it resistant to scratching.
Laminate is also a favorite with homeowners who suffer from allergies. Dust and other indoor allergens such as pet dander can’t penetrate the hard surface of laminate flooring the way it can cling to carpet fibers. Offering an affordable, attractive, and allergy-friendly alternative to hardwood floors is one of the many benefits of laminate flooring.
Price and Affordability
Probably one of the most popular benefits of laminate flooring is its affordability. As opposed to hardwood, laminate is a much more affordable option. With the material costing less and a lower labor cost due to the easier installation, laminate is a great choice when keeping an eye on the budget. The difference between real wood and the laminate flooring can be thousands of dollars. In our case of just 475 square feet, it was a savings of over $2,500.
While I don’t love to spend money on things, hence my reputation as a “cheapo” super saver, flooring is kind of important. It can be a really good investment in your home, as well as provide practical comfort and real beauty, too.
Yes, it’s true that initially laminate flooring is more expensive than carpeting. However, over time it will be more cost effective. In addition to the professional carpet cleaning, carpet typically needs to be replaced approximately every 7 to 10 years or so. Laminate flooring usually lasts 3 to 4 times longer than carpet. Installing laminate instead of replacing the carpet once, maybe twice, during the normal lifespan of the laminate makes it the more affordable long term option over carpet and I am glad we did it!
Take a look at the results and see what you think!
Have you thought about any home improvements such as flooring? What are you considering and what are you willing to spend to do it? Do you ever think about ROI (return on investment) when you do home improvement projects?