How to Choose a Great Floor Installer
Originally posted on https://znetflooring.com/blog/choosing-your-installer/
CHOOSING A GREAT FLOORING INSTALLER, ONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING
Finding a Floor Installer Who Knows How to Get the Job Done Right
DIYing a floor can be a hard task and sometimes it is helpful to hire a contractor to do it for you.
In 2017 19.736 billion square feet of flooring was laid down. That amounted to $21.990 billion in sales, partly due to an increase in waterproof flooring products.
While there are different types of flooring such as hardwood, laminate, vinyl and tiles, all of them require installation. While some types are easier to install, most people prefer to hire a professional installer rather than attempt a DIY job.
But it’s not always easy to find the right type of professional floor installer. Not all of them are adept at handling each type of flooring.
We want to help ensure you find the right person for the job. Keep reading to learn how to choose a floor installer.
HOW TO CHOOSE A FLOOR INSTALLER BEGINS WITH ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
There are different types of flooring available. Each one has its own set of pros and cons.
And each different type of flooring has its own set of installation instructions. You shouldn’t hire a professional hardwood installer if they have no experience installing tiles.
Get Recommendations and Check Online Reviews
That’s why it’s so important to do your homework first. Do an online search to find local professional flooring installation experts in your area. Many people use sites like Thumbtack, Home Advisor, or Angie’s List. You may need to specify thatyou have already sourced the materials.
Make sure they are experts in the type of flooring you need installed. You can also ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations. Some people may have different expectations that you, however you may be able to see the job their recommendation performed.
Always follow up by doing a Google search, see if they have reviews anywhere. We also suggest reading review of local flooring companies, this will give you ideas of what to look for in an installer and may help you build a list of questions. This will give you a greater sense of what to expect and who to trust.
Even if a professional floor installer comes highly recommended and has 5-star online reviews, it’s still important to ask specific questions. This way, you’ll be sure you’ve found the right type of installer for your needs.
You can begin by narrowing down the contractor based on how they would perform each task or plan for each room you need them to install flooring. Next, ask them to set up a timeline and have them keep you updated on the progress of the installation.
Clean Up and Disposal
Ask him or her if they plan on cleaning up the area after installation is complete. You don’t want to find out after the fact that it’s up to you to do the cleanup.
Find out how they plan to dispose of the old flooring materials. Your city or state may have specific regulations on proper disposal methods. And each type of flooring has its own specific rules on how to properly dispose of them.
You may be able to recycle some or all of your old flooring. Also, you don’t want to end up with a fine or a violation so check with your local municipality about the rules and regulations regarding proper disposal methods.
There’s a good chance you may need to remove your furniture from any room where you’re having your floors redone. Ask if they are willing to do the heavy lifting for you or if that’s your responsibility.
Also, see if they’re willing to move the furniture back into the room after the installation is complete.
Always keep in mind that it is the homeowner’s responsibility to move small items off of the floor, clear everything off of the furniture, remove bedding, and empty breakables out of the furniture. Most installers also rather not mess with unhooking and setting back up computers and other complicated electronics that may end up being a time killer.
Shop Around Before Making a Decision
Many customer service focus installers will be willing to go the extra mile and do whatever you ask them to do. While they may charge a higher rate, it’s worth it to find someone you can trust to do a great job. It’s your home and you don’t want to end up stuck with a poor installation job.
Get at least three estimates before you make your final decision. Look for contractors who have years of experience under their belts. And never let price be your only deciding factor.
Another good indicator, when can they start? If they are busy, it means they are more likely good at their job. Most quality installers are not able to start tomorrow or the next day. If they are sitting at home waiting for their next job, I would be wary
HOW MOST FLOOR INSTALLERS WORK
Never trust a floor installer who gives you a quote over the phone, a rough idea is ok, but they need to see the job. There should be three different phases. Let’s go over each phase so you know what to expect.
PHASE ONE: THE ESTIMATE
The first step your contractor should make is to provide you with a size estimate. An estimator will come to your home to measure your floors.
They’ll use a tape measure or a laser, some old school installer will write it out on paper, while some may be completely digital. These tools allow your estimator to produce a square-foot measurement. It is helpful for you to be present as there is likely going to be several questions the installer will have than can cause price differences.
Expect an Overestimation in Square Footage
If you have already done your own estimate, you might be shocked when they give you a greater number. However, contractors tend to add 5-10% overage amount.
This is to account for any waste made from cutting the materials to get a perfect fit. In addition it is always common to have a few bad planks or tiles come from the manufacturer.
PHASE TWO: THE PRICE
Once they’ve measured the area, they’ll be able to give you a quote. Some floor installers will give you a quote right on the spot while others may need to go back to their shop and give you a follow-up call later. More experienced guys can usually calculate a price in minutes, however not all installers are used to pricing their own jobs, so if they need to go back to the shop, it isnt always a bad thing.
Again, make sure you get at least three quotes. This is so you’ll not only to get a general idea of how much each vendor charges. Getting a few prices isn’t always about saving money, you may find one guy to be more likeable or another feels more experienced. Sometimes they will answer questions differently and you should ask for explainations, you may have to use your gut feeling on determining who is right.
Ask about how the installer plans to handle your baseboards. Baseboards tend to overlap flooring.
Some installers cut the existing baseboards to fit the new flooring. Other installers remove the baseboards entirely and then re-install them once the job is finished. Some installers will be willing to paint the baseboards and some will tell you to hire a painter.
There’s also a third option where installers butt the floorboards against the baseboards. Then they cover them with quarter-round or base shoe trim.
Place to Cut
Ask your potential installers about their working area, where do they need to cut, and about precautions to make sure a big mess isnt left behind.
Carpet needs a big area such as a driveway or sometimes they will sweep the street and cut there.
Tile and wood like products have more cutting options but tend to be messier, especially tile, it will leave a caked fine powder mess that is hard to clean up. Wood like products tend to leave saw dust, which isnt to difficult to clean up.
Be sure to ask about their cutting areas and clean up practices.
Sealing the Room
No matter what type of flooring you’re having installed, a mess will be made. Ask if they plan to seal off your other rooms with plastic to ensure none of the debris travels to the rest of your home.
Sealing the rooms may not always be needed. Tile demo and grinding down high spots in concrete are both very dusty processes, if either of those need to be donw, itis highly suggest to wrap cabinets and furniture in plastic and seal off doorways to other rooms if possible.
Please be aware that fine concrete dust still seams to find a way past plastice sealed items, but it does help tremendously.
PHASE THREE: RECEIVING THE FLOORING AND INSTALLATION
The third phase is when your new flooring is delivered. Make sure they leave at least two or three days in the project’s timeline so the flooring has time to acclimate to your home’s environment. This is very important with some flooring matierials and not necessary with others.
If you live in a drier climate, you’ll need more time as the flooring needs to reach a moisture balance with the home. Before and during the installation, try to keep the inside of your home between 60 F and 80 F. Keep your home’s humidity levels between 30% and 50% if possible, this might be quite difficult in some areas.
The Day of the Installation
Expect your installers to arrive early in the morning. If they’re installing hardwood and are doing the cutting on premises, they’ll either set up their saws outdoors (if weather permits) or in your garage.
If your subfloor is in good condition, the installers can begin their work right away. Each type of flooring has its own set of rules regarding the condition and material of your subfloor.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SUBFLOORS
Since each type of flooring has its own set of subflooring rules, let’s go over them. Keep in mind that if you’re laying the subfloor from scratch and you already know what type of surface floor you want, it may affect how the subfloor is installed.
For hardwood floors, a wood subfloor is best. Engineered hardwood can be glued on top of a concrete floor, however a solid wood floor would need you to build a wood subfloor on top of your concrete slab for a proper installation.
NATURAL STONE, CERAMIC, AND PORCELAIN TILES
These type of tile can break easily, especially the natural stones.
As a result, it’s best if your subfloor was made of concrete. On wood subfloors, most installer will install a cement board underlayment on top of you wood subfloor, typically adhered with thinset (cement based adhesive) and screws. Do not let your installer use a construction adhesive for this process as failures tend to be high when they do.
Some installers will float a mud bed over a wood subfloor, this is truly the best way. Mud beds tend to raise your floor height quite a bit, cost more money, and take more time. Mud beds are not super common now days, though it is seen mostly in shower pans and for natural stone.
Improper processes here can lead to cracking grout and loose, hollow tiles that are likely to break.
Carpet can be installed over most subfloors Sometimes a lot of uneveness may need to be addressed, on occasion the subfloor might be in bad shape and additional processes might need to be made in order for the tackless strips to be nailed in securely enough to hold your carpet’s stretch.
LAMINATE AND FLOATING VINYL PLANK FLOORING
These types products can go over most subfloors as well as some other flooring types, as long as everything meets the proper flatness specifications by the flooring manufacturer. Going over other flooring types will sometimes cause unwanted issues with height or more uneveness than an installer wants to properly deal with.
We wrote a pretty detailed guide on the installation of these products, reading this may help you through your process of choosing an installer.
FIND THE RIGHT FLOORING
Now that you know how to choose a floor installer, it’s time to decide what type of flooring you want. We can help. Click here to contact us for tips and advice, or you can leave a comment below. We have a lot of hands on flooring experience, both from the installation and sales side of things, we would love to chat about your project!
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