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Affordable DIY Hardwood Flooring – How We Saved Thousands


Installing Hardwood floors can get expensive, especially when the budget was tight. We needed to find a way to get the look that we wanted without the huge cost.  Here is how we found affordable DIY hardwood flooring for our home.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable hardwood flooring possible!

When we purchased our Tennessee fixer upper, there were many elements about this house that was perfect.  

We loved the location–close to the city, but removed enough to give it a country living vibe.

The neighborhood was just what we were looking for. It was well kept with very little traffic…until you opened the door.

PINK CARPET

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

YIKES!

Is it Pink?

Or would you call it 80s mauve?

To begin with, we realized this carpet was definitely the original to the house.  Over 25 years of muck and mire — never replaced and maybe not even cleaned!

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

I have always wanted hardwoods and without a doubt, I knew I would find affordable hardwood flooring! I was a girl on a mission. First, we started receiving quotes from installers.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

{from MLS Listing}

Our first quote came in at almost $15,000.  UGH! That just hurt our feelings, so we decided to try another company. That quote came in at $11,571, which was an improvement, but still to high for our budget. The installers noticed our disappointment and said they would get back to us with revised the estimate. Boy, did they deliver! That last quote was the trick – $6500, but it was going to take a bit of work on our end to get that price.

As they measured our house, the flooring guys were impressed with our Pallet Kitchen Island and our Pallet Bookcase. I babbled on and on about my blog and explained how we loved to DIY on the cheap.  Once they saw we preferred the rustic look of wood, they recommended Cabin Grade Flooring.

What is cabin grade flooring?

Basically, it’s the seconds, or rejects, from the factory. Those rejects, with the beautiful blemishes, veins and uneven tones, are for sale at a lower price point. But the Cabin Grade flooring offers the same look of barn wood floors without the astronomical prices.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

The installers first recommendation was to not install hardwoods upstairs or in the kitchen. But the install would include the hall at the top of the stairs, the stairway, and most of the downstairs. So by cutting those rooms from the install, the price began to drop.

However, the second recommendation is where we saved the most money — about $1500! They suggested we do the prep work ourselves.  Under our carpet and pad was pressboard.

But you can’t install hardwoods over that type of underlayment. So if we would rip up the carpet, pad and pressboard, then the labor cost would drop drastically. It was work that the installers aren’t too fond of, and by allowing us DIYers to tackle the prep, we saved money and saved them the headache!

It was a daunting task, but knowing that by doing the hard work ourselves would save us BIG BUCKS in the end, made all the effort worth it.

Affordable DIY Hardwood Flooring
The Demo Process

First, we rented a dumpster. A big, blue monstrosity of an eyesore that sat in our driveway for weeks.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Isn’t it so lovely?  

I must have apologized 100 times to the neighbors. But we couldn’t wait to start ripping up all that pink.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Ripping up the carpet was easy, but having the right tools is essential.  Here are some of the tools we used for this demo. Affiliate links are provided for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure here.

You can find some tutorials on YouTube on how to remove carpet, but it’s really simple. Start in a corner and rip away. For easy hauling to the dumpster, we cut 4 foot wide strips of the carpet.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Next came the hard part! Demoing the pressboard was a bit tougher.  It had been nailed in (NAILED IN!) so it had to be chipped away with hammers and crowbars, instead of easily unscrewed and lifted out.

Each ping of the metal tools sounded like CHA-CHING to our ears and one step closer to affordable hardwood flooring!

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

It was messy and we used buckets and shop vacs to get up the pieces.

*Tip: Tape over your floor vents to prevent trash from falling down into the duct work.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

{sorry for the blurry pics – sawdust does that
Note the earplugs, kneepads and facemasks. Safety first!}

Little hands helped us out along the way as well as Trent’s Dad and a good friend of ours whose construction knowledge ended up being invaluable.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Uh-Oh!  That’s wood rot!
(sad trombone)

The subfloor was so bad in places, you could have fallen through.  It was a surprise, but we were glad to know that we could fix the problem, replace the rotten pieces and end up with a better foundation than before.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

There was an entire section needing to be replaced in the Dining Room.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

{much better}

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

As well as in the Master Bedroom.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Under the carpet the treads were fully stained and in perfect condition. That was a relief!

Phew! No repairs! Once we made the necessary repairs to the subfloor and screwed down the plywood, we also added extra screws throughout to prevent floor squeaks.

Now we could start the next step.

Prepping for Install

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Next, we installed a vapor barrier over the subfloor. The installers provided us with 2 rolls of vapor barrier and suggested we lay it sandwiched between the subfloor and another plywood layer. The vapor barrier helps with moisture issues that could cause cupping in the hardwood floors.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Finally, we could lay down the last layer of plywood subfloor on top of the vapor barrier.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

We laid the top plywood layer perpendicular to the pieces beneath.

*Tip: Mark the baseboards where the floor joists run so you can quickly install them.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

So this is where our work ends and where the flooring experts take over.

But now it starts getting good!

The Install

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Look at that hardwood floor!

They are 3.25″ cabin grade white oak planks – all chippy and knotty and gorgeous!

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

The flooring guys added a nice touch by framing-in the fireplace.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

We loved how they looked, but we had to live with the floors unstained and unsanded for about 3 weeks to acclimate to the moisture in the house and to prevent cupping.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

The original plan was to stain the floors, but after living with them in their natural state, we fell in love with the wood. We were afraid to lose the variegation with the stain, so we opted for a satin clear instead of stain.

Affordable DIY Hardwood Flooring Reveal

Finally the day had come! We had to leave the house for a long weekend since the fumes weren’t safe.  After all this hard work, a mini-vacation away from all this work was well worth it!

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

Finally, they sanded the treads on the stairs and left them natural, which matched up nicely and flowed well with the rest of the house.

How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

All in all, the final cost came to $6446 — a total savings of $5,125 from the original estimate with a little bit of hard work on our part.

Decorating with your favorite color can add a new appreciation for your home. Join along with me for my Indigo Blue Summer Home Tour. #Bluehomedecor #indigoblue
Decorating with your favorite color can add a new appreciation for your home. Join along with me for my Indigo Blue Summer Home Tour. #Bluehomedecor #indigoblue

As a result, we got the affordable DIY hardwood flooring that we wanted and saved over $5000 by doing the prep work ourselves.

Decorating with your favorite color can add a new appreciation for your home. Join along with me for my Indigo Blue Summer Home Tour. #Bluehomedecor #indigoblue
How to Save Thousands on Hardwoods - these homeowners share their tips and tricks that helped reduce the overall cost of their floors making affordable DIY hardwood flooring possible!

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34 Comments

  1. What a wonderful and beautiful job you did!
    Oh how proud you must feel not only for your innovative design work but all the money and effort you put into your stunning home.
    In my younger years when my ex and I bought our first home, I too did all this creative work myself without any input from him. Now that I’m happily remarried and a grandmother of 10, I no longer have the strength to do anymore renovations. But we are making small improvements to our small house and every improvement we make, gives the house an entirely new look. I know the feeling of being a DIYer and it’s gives you such a feeling of accomplishment and pride. May You and Your Family have many more years in your beautiful custom made home! ENJOY IT!!

  2. Judi – your sweet comment warmed my heart! I loved hearing your story and that you are still doing small improvements. The fact that you took time to leave me a comment just made my day! Thanks for stopping by and giving me the encouragement to continue my DIYs. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Amazing post jennifer!! I am planning for hardwood floor installation at my new house. I was searching for some hardwood flooring company and i found these blog. It was really very helpful, thanks for posting.

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment! It was hard work, but so worth the effort!

  5. Beautiful,great job done by all,and we all like saving money..Tfs

  6. Great tips, and those floors are beautiful!!! Thanks so much for joining us at the #HomeMattersParty – we hope to see you again next week!

  7. Our installers got the wood from their supplier. It's called seconds or cabin grade. I believe Lumber Liquidators might offer it, but I'm not sure.

    Hope that helps and thanks for stopping in!

  8. The installers sanded the floors before adding the satin clear finish, then also sanded between each coat of the clear.

  9. Love, Love, Love the Floors! I live in Minnesota, how would you go about finding this grade flooring?

  10. Just beautiful! A lot of work for that beauty, but it will last forever. Wondering,,,didn't you have to sand the floors before applying the clear finish?

  11. I really like them…didn't think I would….we want them bad for the main level and stairs…was told to do real wood or do laminate but the higher grade……….now don't know what to do………..but hope we can save like you did.

  12. Thanks Michelle! We had 880 sq foot of flooring installed. The cost also included the stairs which were an additional $560. Hope that helps!

  13. This is great information! I can't wait till one day when we own our home and I can follow your tips! PS I really do love the look of the floors. I had know idea there was such a thing as cabin grade flooring, such a great tip! -I found you on Inspiration Monday link party, so excited to start following you!.

  14. Absolutely stunning results! I'm having flashbacks to when we put down the flooring in the Little Shack. Lots of work, but oh so worth it! I sure enjoyed reading your post! Stopping by from the #NiftyThriftySunday hop!

  15. They're beautiful! Good choice on not doing the stain–the color is lovely :). It makes me tired just reading about all that prep work, but you can't argue with saving that kind of money!

  16. Love love love!!! I am so inspired to rip up my carpet right this minute instead of waiting til this spring … but hubby would probably kill me! Lol! I will def be picking your brain when it comes time for our project- you make DIY look GREAT!!!

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