How Long Does It Take to Install Hardwood Floors?

If you’re lucky, your home comes with beautiful hardwood floors. Perhaps you tore up the carpet and revealed the preferable floor there. But if you are not so fortunate, you will have to install your own.

Are you wondering how long does it take to install hardwood floors? Our guide here details the things you should know. Keep reading to learn about hardwood floors and the installation process.

Why Hardwood?

Why install hardwood floors at all? Wood flooring gives your house an air of sophistication, warmth, and style that other floors don’t. They look beautiful. They feel luxurious to walk over and improve the overall kind of your space.

But apart from those reasons, wood floors are easier to keep clean than carpets and last forever. Also, carpet attracts and traps bacteria and dirt, while hardwood floors are much more hygienic since you can easily clean the surface.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact, rest easy.

Since hardwood floors can last over 100 years, their ecological footprint is minimal. However, the floor will likely need to be sanded and refinished every twenty years. Fortunately, the wood is typically thick enough for this to be done at least six times.

That covers a lot of years!

Hardwood floors also add much value to your home if you decide to sell them. Many buyers look specifically for good hardwood floors in a house they’re interested in buying and will be willing to pay a premium.

But the real reason to get hardwood floors is that you want them. So many people look and feel better and more interesting than carpet or vinyl.

Even though hardwood floors have been around for centuries, the demand is still rising! It has never gone out of style and probably never will. Its timeless, classic look goes with any home decor you’d ever want.

Some popular hardwood choices include red or white oak, American cherry wood, and hard maple wood.

Oak is the most popular in the United States since it’s known for being easy to work within a wide variety of settings. In addition, red oak is the easiest to cut, while white oak is a bit hard and more durable.

Cherry wood is somewhat less common but exciting to use as a hardwood floor since it changes color with time. It gets darker with age.

Finally, maple wood has been used since colonial times and is still a top choice for flooring. It’s tougher than oak and more resistant to scratches.

Of course, hardwood flooring might not be for you if you prefer softer, warmer flooring. Carpet may be your best option. Flooring is a personal preference, though hardwood is an enduring preference.

How Long Does It Take to Install Hardwood Floors?

Of course, the exact time it takes to install a hardwood floor varies according to several factors. But a quick and easy answer is that it takes a few weeks to install correctly. It also may take a few weeks for the hardwood to arrive after being ordered.

Some obvious factors that influence how long it takes are how large an area is being installed, the condition of the current flooring, and what type of hardwood floor you’re installing.

The trend lately has been to go with 3.25-inch planks rather than the traditional 2.25-inch width. The wider the plank, the fewer individual pieces need to be installed, which speeds up the time a little bit.

One less obvious factor has to do with the humidity level. See below for details on the acclimation process to address humidity and wood flooring issues.

Acclimation Process

A critical part of installing hardwood floors is acclimating the moisture in the wood to match the humidity in your home. So how do you adjust the moisture level? It’s an easy but slow process.

The best way to acclimate the wood is to set it out and leave it in the house for at least five days. A week or even up to 10 days is even better. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that two days is enough.

During this time, the wood has a chance to naturally come to the same moisture level as the rest of the house. You then use a wood moisture meter to determine the exact level and whether or not the wood is ready for installation.

Why is this important? If the moisture in the subfloor is greater than the wood flooring, the flooring will attract moisture into it and expand. The opposite is true,e however, if the wood flooring has more water than the subfloor.

The subfloor would then attract the extra moisture, and the wood flooring will become too dry and split apart. The humidity of the new flooring needs to match the subfloor.

On average, this will be at about 9% relative humidity for the actual wood flooring. That’s assuming the house hovers at about 35 to 60 percent relative humidity.

This passive process takes about a week of the entire installation process and involves the wood flooring just laying in the room it will be used in. Take moisture readings from several planks before assuming it’s ready to use.

The flooring pieces should be open to the air (i.e., you can stack them but staggered, so each piece gets airflow.)

The Order Matters

The ordering that the construction process happens is essential to the success of the hardwood floor. The delivery of the flooring shouldn’t occur until any wet aspects of the job (plaster or paint) have already dried.

Then, you should take a reading of the relative humidity in the space. The wood should not be delivered yet if it isn’t between 35-60 percent relative humidity.

Once everything is wet and dry, and the humidity is in the correct range, the wood can be delivered, and you can start the acclimation process.

If this happens in a different order, you will likely have moisture problems in the future that could have been avoided. (An exception is specific engineered hardwood flooring which does not need to be acclimated.)

The Actual Installation

After the wood is acclimated, the actual installation process can start. This usually only takes two to three days to do. Of course, the larger or more complex the job, the longer it would take, but it’s roughly a few days.

The first two days are typically spent removing the old flooring and installing the new wood flooring. The third day is usually spent cleaning up and redoing the trim and other details that still need attention.

The subfloor condition may also cause the job to last a bit longer. Sometimes as the old floor is removed, it becomes clear that the subfloor needs repair before you install new flooring.

One trend in hardwood floors is to go with more giant individual wood planks. The larger the plank, the quicker the installation process will go.

Finishing up

If you have installed flooring that’s come prefinished from the factory, this step isn’t necessary and will shave 4-5 days off the total time.

But, if the flooring is unfinished when installed, you’ll need to stain and seal it. Many people prefer to install unfinished wood because it looks the most uniform when finished on site.

Unfinished wood also requires sanding, which adds a little time. Prefinished lumber does not need sanding or staining and is, therefore, more convenient.

Combination stain and sealant products will shorten this time a little bit. Otherwise, each layer needs to be applied separately, and you must wait a day before applying the next layer.

Typically, you’ll want two or three layers of polyurethane sealant. This means you’ll need a day for the stain and two or three days for the bond. Then, you’re all set with your new floor!

How Does the Installation Time Compare to Other Flooring?

Hardwood flooring takes a little longer than most other flooring types, but that is no reason not to get it. You’ll set yourself up for a lifetime of having an excellent floor for just a few days or weeks longer on the installation.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is popular with some people because it can look like wood but is cheaper and quicker to install. However, like natural hardwood flooring, you still have to give it a few days to acclimate.

After that, though, the process is quick, only taking a matter of hours to install at that point. And you do not have to finish the surface. So this could be a more leisurely start for someone installing their first flooring. Of course, we offer laminate flooring, as well!


The installation time for carpets is the fastest. It does take some prep work, just like anything else. The measuring, cutting, and planning can take a few hours. The actual installation then takes several more hours on average.

Several factors affect the actual time (size, the complexity of the space, experience, etc.), but generally, installing carpet only takes a day or two.

Tile Flooring

Tile flooring takes about 1-3 days to install. Like all the others, there is some prep work before laying the tile. First, you must inspect the subfloor and ensure it’s undamaged and level.

Then, you can set the tiles using a mortar. The size of the tile will determine how fast this part of the process is–the smaller the tile, the longer it will take. If the tiles are unglazed, they’ll need to be sealed, too. Most tiles come prefinished and don’t require that, though.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring, including newer vinyl plank flooring, is durable and easy to install. Standard vinyl flooring can be installed in a few hours by professionals. It may take a little longer if you don’t have the experience, but not more than a few days.

Vinyl planks can be made to look like wood but are much easier to install. They clip together and don’t require glue or adhesive. Again, it will not take professionals more than a day, and you can likely do it yourself in a few days.

Since it looks good, is more waterproof than natural wood, and is easy to install, this flooring has become quite popular. But, of course, for those that want natural wood, there is no real substitute.

Learn More

So, how long does it take to install hardwood floors? It takes a mere couple of weeks for a lifetime of classy, functional flooring that never goes out of style. Installing hardwood floors is a significant decision, but almost always a good one!

The first 5-7 days are for acclimating the moisture in the wood, the next several days for the actual installation, and the last 3-4 days for finishing the surface and cleaning up.

Call today or check out the rest of our website for great flooring options! We have all the types of flooring mentioned in this article and several more beyond that. Check out reviews of lots of flooring options on our site.

Please contact us today if you are ready to install a beautiful hardwood floor in your home (or any of our great flooring options). We can answer any questions you still have about the type of flooring you should get and what to expect for the installation process.