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Creative Tips for Buying Hardwood Flooring

Updated on March 16, 2010

Hardwood floors are making a comeback.  In the 70’s they were dwarfed in popularity by wall to wall carpet but these days, many prospective buyers are looking for the organic feel of hard wood under their feet.  And not only do wood floors give more of a classic look to a home, they also raise the value of the house just by having them installed.  But the problem with wood floors is that they can be more expensive than carpet not only in terms of labor but also in terms of material.  The average homeowner can expect to pay between $8.00-$10.00 per square foot with labor included.  And considering that most houses are 1,000+ square feet, you can imagine that the cost can be pretty hard for a home owner to swallow.  Is there such a thing as cheap hardwood floors?  The answer is yes.

There are all types of wood floors that range from bamboo flooring to wood laminate floors and even pre-engineered hardwood to consider.  Because of the huge array of options, there is literally something for everyone; from people looking for flooring with patterns, to people who are looking for the look of hardwood on a small budget.  In other words, it is possible to get cheap hardwood floors once you do a little research and find where to look.  Of course, even if wood or laminate is out of your budget, there are many different types of floor covering to choose from as well that could work on anyone’s budget.

Make sure you know how much wood you need before you start searching for cheap hardwood floors

The first step is to get accurate measurements of the areas that you are going to want to lay the wood.  Personally, I would recommend having this professionally done.  Typically, expect to pay $25-40 to have a contractor come out and take measurements.  Many contractors will try to hide the measurements from you because they will want to do the job for you.  I found this to be the case for most big box retailers with the exclusion of Lumber Liquidators.  Once you get the measurements, you are going to want to add at least 10% for waste to the total square feet.

Where to look for the best prices on hardwood floors

While you may be tempted to find a local hardwood flooring specialist, the first step is to visit some of the big box retailers, like Lumber Liquidators, Lowe’s or Home Depot, so you can get a range of prices as well as a look at the different types of wood flooring available.  Plus, you can check out the sections of the store where returns and discontinued flooring products are kept.  You see, a lot of flooring will be returned simply because of a flaw or two in the planks;  something that will be very hard to see unless you are really looking for it.  These products are usually sold for as much as half the cost of new products and you can find a very good deal in these sections.  The key to this is to make sure that you know about how much flooring you will need.  A lot of times, you may find a good deal but there won’t be enough wood to cover the entire floor for your project.

Another good place to find cheap hardwood floors is through decorators or interior designers.  These guys could have basically purchased the flooring for a past project that could have been rejected by the home owner.  Typically, a designer will get the material at cost and sometimes even less.  This kind of deal can come hard to come by though.  Usually, this type of deal is rarely advertised and you will need to go directly to the decorator’s store and simply ask if they have any flooring that was rejected.  A lot of times, these guys will sell them right back to you at cost in an effort to recoup their losses.

You may also find cheap hardwood floors at salvage yards.  You can do a search for local salvage yards in your area and make a few phone calls to see if they have any hardwood.  A lot of times, when homeowners get new floors, they will dump the old wood floors off.  And while some of the flooring may be damaged, you may be surprised to find that there are lot of sections and planks that are usuable and at bottom of the barrel prices.

And speaking of salvage yards, you can also ask flooring contractors and demolition companies directly.  In many cases, you can get cheap wood floors simply by having the company’s connect your with the owner of the actual property who is having their hardwood floors removed.  This is a decent option since you can actually take a look at the floors before they are removed and many “green” homeowners will be ecstatic that you would not only be willing to pay them to have it removed, it would also be eco-friendly.

These are some of the more creative ways to finding cheap hardwood floors at rock bottom prices.  The best part is that if you can find the flooring cheaply, your only costs will be labor (expect $4 per square foot) and incidental costs.  And if you intend on installing the wood flooring yourself, then the money you would pay for labor could be siphoned into refinishing the floors and adding high end elements to really make your flooring “pop”.

Finding cheap hardwood flooring may seem like a challenge but once you know where to look, the skies the limit.  And just because it is cheap, doesn’t necessarily imply that it is.


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