Hardwood Flooring Installation
10 VITAL QUESTIONS TO ASK IF YOU WANT A TRUSTWORTHY CONTRACTOR
First off, kudos to your tasteful choice! Every hardwood flooring board possesses natural colors, gorgeous grain and distinguished marks that communicate a rich, clean, classy, yet contemporary look that last for generations.
As Wooderra knows, it takes tremendous efforts and amount of time to find an excellent craftsman for the building of the home of your dream. In order to recognize and hire a competent contractor, it is important that homeowners understand what is involved in hardwood flooring installation themselves and ask the potential candidate the right questions accordingly.
1. Do you have a business and contractor license?
The first thing you want is to work with certified installers who follow and are familiar with proper hardwood flooring installation guidelines. Parties without legitimate certifications issued by specific flooring manufacturers could possibly void the warranty of your hardwood floors and give rise to more issues down the road.
Depending on how the system in each country works, it is feasible to check the validity of a business license online. For instance, in the United States, homeowners can look it up by typing [state's name] current business license listings. The status of the given business license can be seen by entering and clicking on the name of the company of the installer. Some companies are often subsidiaries of others so make sure you ask the company or the installer if they belong to this group. The reason is valid business licenses are often held by parent companies.
2. What can you tell me about the price quote?
Your contractor should present you with a detailed and concise estimate of the hardwood flooring installation. This written quote is a legally binding contract, requiring the homeowner's signature as acceptance. This is generally required by professional hardwood flooring installation companies. The price quote should cover the following major points:
- A precise list of what is involved in the total installation cost
- The responsibilities of the contractor or the tasks they will be executing
- Details of preparation stage
- How long the installation will take in total
- What materials will be provided by the contractor besides the actual hardwood planks (unless homeowners already buy them in advanced)
The answers to the following questions should also be specified in the price quote:
- Existing floor: Will the contractor remove and dispose the old floor? If so, is it free of charge? If not, what is the cost?
- Furniture: Who is responsible for moving the furniture?
- Doors: Will any doors be modified by the installer to compensate for the differences in height between new and old floor?
- Floors of adjacent rooms: In case there is a difference in floor height between two adjacent rooms, what is the measurement? Is matching the heights and replacing a new floor for both rooms necessary?
- Finishes: Which sealing and finishing products will the installer use if the project is to install unfinished hardwood floors? Is the fee of sanding included in the package?
In order to avoid conflicts in communication between you and the contractor or worse, legal action at a later date, make sure the proposal includes everything that is involved in the installation of your hardwood flooring, is stated concisely and accurately, point by point.
3. Could you provide me with some testimonials of your previous works or references?
You usually get the idea of how well a company does its job by examining their past projects. Ask your potential contractor for a list of previous projects, as well as pictures and references of former customers.
You can also ask the contractor follow-up questions about what if anything they would do differently in their next project, and what they would improve on your own project.
4. What type of hardwood floors do you think are best for my home?
Even if you have not yet made up your mind about the types of flooring you want, it is always helpful to discuss it with your contractor. An expert contractor can offer insightful advice that will work best for your home aesthetically, structurally and financially.
Notice that an able contractor also pays attention to the surrounding natural environment, based on which he/she can make recommendations on the right kind of hardwood options. Other determinant factors are the current subfloor, the amount of foot traffic, where the installation project takes place, the estimated budget, and so on.
For example, if you might not be aware of a dimensionally stable hardwood that works splendidly in humid areas, like teak flooring. Or if you are not fond of having semi-synthetic materials in your home such as engineered wood flooring, the lifespan of which is not as long as you want and pricing of which is high, you might be advised on the reasons to choose solid wood flooring.
Note that the price of the hardwood is determined chiefly by its grade (Clear grade, Select & Better grade, Select grade, Traditional/Antique/Character grade, Tavern/Cabin grade) and the type of wood itself.
5. What can you tell me specifically about the moisture level and acclimatization of the hardwood in my home/area? How will my flooring be affected by them?
This is a crucial question before the actual hardwood flooring installation because a solid hardwood floor is typically susceptible to shrinkage during dry winters and expansion during humid summers. Hence, it is essential to discuss humidity control methods or any related moisture issues to achieve moisture content regulation.
The moisture level between the flooring and subflooring should not be more than 4% different. Keep in mind to measure room temperature as well.
Before starting to acclimatize the wood to your house and the surrounding environment, wait until other building work is done and all floors and windows are installed.
6. What kind of warranties or guarantee can you offer?
It is a must to know the responsible party you can reach out to upon encountering problems with your floors. This is another reason why you should not hire an uncertified installer, the work of whom can potentially void the warranty.
Ask to see a warranty before committing with the contractor. Keep in mind that some contractors typically offer warranty only on their work, not the product, while others warranty both – materials and labor.
7. How are you going to prepare the subfloor and layout?
Although this is already included in the question related to preparation stage, inquiring about more specifications is appropriate. The riaght preparation of subfloor and layout can only be achieved when the following major jobs are done by the contractor:
○ Subfloor's job debris is removed so that there will be no interference with the hardwood flooring installation.
○ Your hardwood floor can only feel smooth when your existing subfloor is likewise; hence, make sure the contractor will bring out the flatness for it. You do not want to hear those squeaky noise or feel the bounciness when stepping on the floor boards.
○ Your subfloor should be dry (refer to the difference in moisture content between subfloor and hardwood floor in question 5).
○The materials for subfloor should be appropriately chosen.
○ A layout for each room is sketched out carefully before starting laying your hardwood floors.
○ The size of each room, each plank used and tricky areas (e.g. top of stairs, near to a fire place) in the house should be taken into consideration. Not all areas in the house will be in uniform. You can actually learn how to measure your room yourself before buying any hardwood floor boards.
8. Will you or an individual company be doing the actual flooring installation?
In the hardwood flooring industry, contractors are either independent or typically work with staff from companies specialized in hardwood flooring installation. Ask for the name of the company, years of experiences the installers have and the certifications they offer.
9. What is the source of the flooring materials?
It is important to know the origin and background information of the materials that will be placed in your house for years to come. A good contractor knows where the flooring materials originate from, in what criteria they are produced in, and whether or not the source can be trusted.
10. Will you offer cleaning service and products and instructions on maintenance techniques?
A hardwood flooring installation is usually followed with considerable time and effort to clean up. Discuss this matter with your contractor to see whether or not it will be done by them and if so, what will the fee added be.
For the attributes of your hardwood floor that will add values to your home and last for generations, it is advised that you should acquire a cleaning kit and care instructions, or even better – a certified detailed cleaning program, ideally from your contractor or a wood care expert they can recommend.
Recap on key points to ask before hiring a hardwood flooring contractor:
1. Business and contractor license
2. Detailed price quote
3. Testimonials/references of previous works
4. Type of hardwood floors
5. The moisture level and acclimatization of the hardwood
6. Warranties or guarantee offered
7. Subfloor and layout preparation
8. Background of all the workers involved in actual installation
9. Source of all the flooring materials
10. Cleaning service, products and maintenance techniques offered