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How Much Does Walnut Flooring Cost?

Hardwood flooring can add several thousand dollars to the value of a home. Potential shoppers love the look of well-maintained wood floors, and they'll pay extra for those floors. Walnut, which has a naturally dark color, is a good choice for a home, but the material is best suited for areas with minimal traffic. The material typically comes from walnut tress found in the United States and from other parts of the world, including Brazil. While walnut is a little costly, some people love the look of this flooring.

The Costs

  • Walnut flooring cost: $4 to $9 per square foot

When shopping for walnut flooring, homeowners will find that manufacturers charge between $4 and $9 per square foot for the wood boards alone. American walnut is usually on the lower end of the price range, while Brazilian walnut is more expensive. The cost of sourcing that wood and shipping it to manufacturers leads to the price increase.

Installation costs can add an extra $4 per square foot to the cost, but some companies charge as little as $1 per square foot for installation. The cost typically depends on the type of walnut the homeowners choose. Traditional hardwood requires staples and nails to keep the boards in place, but newer forms of engineered wood don't require staples or nails. While installing engineered walnut is a little less expensive, the material typically doesn't add as much value to the home and doesn't last as long as solid unstained or pretreated walnut does.

Types of Walnut

Walnut trees are typically known for the nuts that they produce, but they are also valued for their hardwood used in flooring. Black walnut is one of the more popular options, but some call this material American walnut because manufacturers source the material from walnut trees raised across the country. Black walnut and American walnut have a hardness rating of 1010, which is harder than some materials and not as strong as others. Brazilian walnut, which comes from other parts of the world, has a much stronger hardness rating of 3680.

Prefinished Walnut Flooring

One of the first choices that homeowners must make is between prefinished walnut and unstained walnut. Walnut has a rich and warm chocolate brown color that works in both larger and smaller rooms. Prefinished walnut comes with a stain added to the surface that highlights the natural color of the wood. Manufacturers typically add a clear sealant to the top of the wood as well, which provides a barrier against moisture. Prefinished walnut floors can also come in a darker or lighter shade of brown, based on the stain the manufacturer uses.

Unstained Hardwood Flooring

Unstained walnut floors lack any type of sealant or stain. This is a good choice for those who like the natural look of the wood, want something a little more rustic or desire a customized color. Unstained flooring is often less expensive than prefinished flooring, but some homeowners don't like the amount of time it takes to stain the wood. The wood requires at least one coat of sealant, which protects against moisture and other hazards, and some people apply a stain to the wood before the sealant. The stain can intensify the rich, brown color of the walnut or make the walnut resemble a different type of wood.

Installing Walnut Flooring

Installing walnut flooring is extremely difficult for beginners. The process involves a number of different steps and even one simple mistake can cost thousands to repair. After measuring the size of the room, determining the number of boards needed and arranging the materials, the installer will check the floor for any uneven spots or problems and take care of those issues.

Installers then place vapor barrier paper on the floor. This paper blocks moisture and prevents other types of damage to the sub-flooring. The installers start laying the walnut boards on one side of the room, placing each board side by side and eliminating any gaps between those boards. Each board must have a series of nails placed through the surface that affixes the boards to the flooring, and most installers also use wood staples in the boards. After arranging each board, the installers will use wood putty to fill gaps and holes and ensure that the boards are level.

Advantages of Walnut Flooring

One reason so many people choose walnut flooring is because the flooring requires little in the way of maintenance. Homeowners simply need to sweep away dirt and debris, and they can find specialty cleaners that remove stains from the wood. Walnut is also durable enough for most homes, though many find that it isn't strong enough for the most frequently-used areas of their home.

Though walnut is naturally dark, the color of the wood works in a variety of settings. It does equally well in both modern and more traditional homes and rooms. Walnut also features a strong grain pattern in a shade slightly darker than the color of the wood itself, and applying a sealant or stain can really bring out that grain.

Disadvantages of Walnut Flooring

Despite some strong benefits, walnut isn't nearly as strong as other types of woods. American walnut has a low hardness number in comparison to other woods, which means that it doesn't withstand constant use. Scratches and scuffs can appear on the wood just from walking across the floor or moving furniture.

Like other types of wood flooring, walnut requires regular sealing and waxing. A thin layer of wax added to the wood can restore its natural look and bring shine back to a dull floor. The sealant added to the surface of the wood can break down over time and leave the wood exposed to natural sunlight and other environmental dangers. Homeowners will need to apply a new coat of sealant or hire a professional to seal the floors after a few years, but it is worth noting that walnut can go longer without sealing than other types of wood.

Last updated on Mar 31, 2015

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