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The Cost of Engineered Hardwood Floors

If you have been shopping for new engineered hardwood floors then you have probably found the price to vary widely; perhaps anywhere from $4 to $30 per square foot. To the un-trained eye they may all appear to be the same, but there are many factors that influence the price of a hardwood floor which may not be obvious at first glance. Some of the key drivers of price, and things which you may want to consider when shopping are:

  1.  Place of manufacturer. Those hardwood floors made in Europe or Canada will be more costly then those made in Asia. 
  2. The grade of the hardwood. “Clean” floors with minimal to no knots are more expensive than “country” grade floor which contain knots, mineral streaks, etc.
  3. The thickness of the top hardwood layer (called a lamella). The actual amount of hardwood on the top varies from 1mm to 6mm in thickness. The thicker the hardwood layer generally the more expensive the floor 
  4. The length and width of the planks. Floors with wider and longer planks are more expensive than those with narrower and shorter planks
  5. The quality of the core material. You will see cores made from marine-grade Baltic Birch plywood all the way down to core’s that appears to be made of scrap/leftover materials. Remember the core is the structure of your entire floor and its quality will dictate how well the floor stays together over time  
  6. The manufacturer of the floor. Some manufacturer’s have long-histories of providing high-quality floors. Others are “phantom-brands” which buy from mills overseas and just put their own box on it. These phantom-brands can quickly come and go, which may impact your warranty 
  7. The quality of the warranty. Those brands which have a long history, and thus a higher-likelihood of being around to service a potential warranty claim, tend to cost more. Many phantom-brands may offer long warranty on paper but may be out-of-business when you have a problem  
  8. Made-to-order versus made-in-bulk. Some brands (mostly the Canadian one’s) offer a made-to-order program, where the consumer can chose to customize their new floor a la carte. These floors are then produced “for you”. Other brands purchase in bulk from overseas and what you see in the display is what you can buy; no customization is possible
  9. The supply-chain of the trees used. The less expensive the floor the higher chance the trees used in the manufacturer of the floor are from illegal sources
  10. The VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions of the floor. The less expensive the floor the higher the chance the chemicals used in the manufacturer of the floor will off-gas un-healthy levels of  VOC’s 


Of course this is not all the things that play a part in the cost of a floor. There are costs which cannot necessarily be quantified, such as the social cost of poorly-paid factory workers, and the cost to the planet of producing a floor with no respect to the surrounding environment. The hope is however that when deciding on a new floor you will realize how much goes into (or not goes into) the price which you are about to pay.