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How much should my new floor cost?

Experts weigh in on carpet, tile, hardwood

By Oseye Boyd, Angie’s List
Published: September 24, 2015, 5:57am

What is the right price to pay for flooring?

Many homeowners fear they’ll receive an inferior flooring product by paying too little, or get overcharged by unscrupulous contractors.

For the average consumer, it’s hard to know a good deal from a bad one. To help consumers crack the flooring price code, Angie’s List asked three flooring experts how much homeowners should expect to pay for new carpet, hardwood and tile flooring.


Unlike tile or wood flooring, which is priced by the square foot only, carpet is priced by the square yard or square foot, making an apples-to-apples comparison challenging.

However, converting the square yard price into square feet isn’t difficult; just divide it by 9. For example, carpet priced at $27 a yard costs $3 a square foot, says Tom Manion, owner of Manion Door to Door Flooring of Austin, Texas.

Average carpet prices start at $2 a square foot and increase with quality. Middle-grade quality carpet ranges from $3 to $4 a square foot, and high grades and designer grades cost about $5 or more per square foot. According to Costhelper, expect to pay an additional $2.50 to $6 per square foot for padding and $2 to $6 per square foot for installation.

Be wary of free padding promotions or low-cost carpet deals. You know, the ones that offer three rooms for an absurdly low price — like $99. Free carpet padding is usually cheap, thin and often results in consumers paying for an upgrade. As for those amazing deals, the cheap carpet comes with high-cost padding, installation and other extras tacked on so the deal isn’t as sweet as it seemed.

Oh, and about stain resistance. It’s not always needed.

Chris Burton, co-owner of Burton’s Flooring Center of Franklin, Ind., says stain resistance is natural for polyester or olefin carpet because the fibers are nonporous. However, nylon carpets do need added stain protection.

Hardwood flooring

Prices for hardwood range from $2 a square foot for the cheapest flooring up to $30 or more on the high end.

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Flooring pros say the affordability and durability of engineered hardwood floors make it more popular with homeowners than solid wood floors.

“It takes a water hit,” Burton says. “If you were to flood that floor, you don’t have to tear it out and redo it.”

Burton says his customers typically spend about $8 per square foot for engineered hardwood flooring; add an additional $2 per square foot for installation.

Manion says consumers should expect to pay $7 to $12 per square foot for quality hardwood flooring.

“If the homeowner buys the wood, and you need somebody to install it, usually an installation goes for about $2 a square foot,” Bill LeBeau, owner of LeBeau’s Hardwood Floors of Huntersville, N.C., says.

According to Angie’s List data, the average hardwood install costs $2,141, with prices ranging from $1,800 to $2,475.

Tile flooring

Tile prices vary widely, from $1 per square foot up to more than $25, depending on the type. Glazed ceramic tiles start around $1 per square foot, while porcelain, marble and granite tiles start at $2 per square foot, according to Costhelper.

Higher-end tiles, such as mosaic, which are small tiles mounted to a mesh sheet, can cost up to $25 per square foot, as can glass, leather and metal tiles, according to Costhelper.

Homeowners can expect to pay $6 to $6.50 per square foot for tile installation, Burton says. Exceptionally low labor costs could signify that the installers aren’t qualified, and that could pose problems down the road.

“You can set that tile, and it will stay in place for two to three years, and then it will start cracking,” Burton says. “Nine times out of 10, it will fail.”