For all but the handiest home do-it-yourself-er, installing floors is a task best left to professionals. There are many nuances of floor installation that the average homeowner will be unaware of that can make the difference between a top-notch, professional-looking job and one with serious flaws with its look or performance.
In cities and towns across the United States, from Chicago to Austin, flooring installation professionals will share common characteristics, which set them apart from those less qualified. Look for professionals certified by the National Wood Flooring Association when having wood floors installed to ensure you are dealing with a competent, knowledgeable contractor. Additionally, each state has various licensing organizations that contractors under consideration should be members of, before being considered to perform work in your home.
Insist On Bonded Contractors Who Carry Commercial Liability Insurance
Rates for flooring installers are reported to range between $91 and $137 per hour in most U.S. areas, with most contractors stipulating a minimum to perform any job, often of about two hours. Some contractors may be certified to provide other home renovation services as well: savings might be found in negotiating with those who are able to provide more than one service.
In addition being certified, reputable flooring installation companies will carry commercial liability insurance and be bonded. It is suggested that all work valued at more than $500 be protected by a bond. Homeowners should check that bonds pledged by installers are valid and of an amount sufficient to cover the cost of the work being performed, including materials.
A sure sign that you are dealing with a less-than-professional contractor is when you are presented with a quote or job plan in anything other than a written document. Further, contractors who attempt to perform work without first receiving your signed approval of a contract that specifies price, what work is to be completed, the materials to be used, a time line, and other details specific to your job, should be viewed with suspicion.
Hardwood Floorboards Need To Be Acclimated
Hardwood flooring will contract and expand with temperature and changes in humidity, making it imperative that boards be “acclimated” to the room where they will be installed, for at least a numbers of days, up to several weeks. With larger renovations involving many different specialties, because of the susceptibility of hardwood boards to changes from humidity, the acclimatization process should not be started until doors and windows have been installed and that work affecting the level of moisture in a room is first completed.
Common shortcuts unprofessional floor installers may attempt to make include not cleaning the sub-floor properly, or ensuring that it is completely free of debris, in addition to not using enough nails to guarantee that boards are properly held down. Improperly prepared sub-floors and floors installed without enough fasteners are common causes of squeaking and boards that move when walked upon. Further, sub-floors should be completely dry before any boards are installed over them.