Hardwood flooring installation tips from National Floors Direct

9 Handy Tips to Help You Hire a Hardwood Floor Installer

With the typical American homeowner spending over $3,000 per year on home improvements, you might be looking for ways to cut corners. But if you're planning to overhaul your floors, you're better off going with a professional installation. What should you look for in a potential contractor?

Read on to learn the 9 handy tips to help you hire a hardwood floor installer!

1. Determine Your Hardwood Flooring Preferences

Installing hardwood floors can be an intricate and time-consuming process, so you want to be sure you like what you're getting. Do you prefer natural oak or deep cherry? Or maybe you'd like to know more about bamboo or luxury vinyl flooring.

Ask potential contractors for their perspectives on a few options. They should be able to detail the pluses and minuses of each and steer you toward a durable and attractive choice.

2. Secure a Few Quotes

It would be easier to accept the first quote you get from a contractor. But you might be able to score a better deal on hardwood flooring installation if you shop around. Aim to get at least three quotes before agreeing to one. 

As you compare offers, look at what you get for the investment. For instance, some installation services may offer better warranties or a faster timeline. And some services may only work with certain products due to connections with manufacturers.

Evaluate the level of professionalism of potential contractors, too. You want to choose a contractor who responds to calls quickly and answers questions thoroughly. If you don't experience prompt communication during the early steps in the process, don't expect things to improve. 

3. Look at Experience

With hardwood flooring installation, you don't want to cut corners. That means you want to go with an experienced installation team. Look for a company that can point to decades of service or recognition from industry professionals. 

You can ask about the installation process as a way to test or validate that a potential contractor has the right experience. While you're at it, ask how they've troubleshot issues during other installations. 

4. Always Ask for References

Before you sign a contract, you should do some vetting. In other words, ask your prospective contractor for references, ideally in your area. While they may have testimonials on their website, you'll learn more if you can talk with a previous client.

It's also fair to ask for photographs of recent projects. A reputable contractor should have photographs showing their quality of work and versatility. 

5. Choose a Contractor with Insurance and Licensure

Never hire a contractor who is not able to show proof of insurance or licensure. They should have general liability and workers' compensation insurance. This means that if a worker is injured on your property, you won't be stuck paying the medical bills. 

Additionally, they should have licensure indicating they are permitted to work as a contractor in your area. Some states require contractors to pass an exam or at least register with the local county's government office. Check the requirements in your state to ensure that you're hiring someone who has met the necessary qualifications to run a business. 

6. Check Warranty Offers

What happens if your hardwoods scratch, discolor, or start warping? Be clear on what kind of warranty coverage you'll get.

You're likely to encounter warranties that apply to the finish and structure. Structural warranties are useful if the floors buckle or warp after installation. And finish warranties cover the evenness of the finish over the warranty period.

You should expect to see a warranty of at least 25 years. But as you're shopping for a contractor, you may find that some offer a lifetime warranty. 

7. Get a Detailed Estimate

Installations services will include the cost of labor and materials in an estimate. More often than not, however, there are other costs to consider. Ask for an itemized estimate that tells you exactly what you'll be paying for.

Your estimate should include the square footage of the room as well as a bonus amount of materials needed for waste. You may need to pay a travel surcharge if you live beyond the contractor's normal radius of service. And you may want to ask about a penalty clause, too, if the contractor is not able to meet the timetable outlined in the eventual contract. 

8. Know What You'll Need to Do

If you're redoing a hardwood floor in a room you already inhabit, don't expect the contractors to move everything out of the way. And if they show up to start removing the old flooring, they may expect all furniture to be gone. You'll delay the timetable or incur extra costs if you haven't taken care of this on the front end. 

Because of this, it's smart to confirm your responsibilities. For instance, you might need to board pets before they begin work. You also should clarify what kind of clean-up the installers will do — or whether you'll need to do it. 

Similarly, you should ask where the contractors will handle cutting boards to size. You may need to cover air vents in other rooms to prevent the spread of contaminants.

9. Understand the Payment Plan

Do you need to pay for half of the project upfront? Will everything be due as one lump sum upon completion? Don't agree to a contract in writing until you know the terms of the payment plan. 

Find out if you can make monthly payments to help your budget. And if you can, know if there will be interest. Also, be sure you know where to make your payments and what the penalties are for missed payments. 

Find the Best Hardwood Floor Installer

When you know what to look for, you can hire the best hardwood floor installer. Make sure to go with licensed, insured, and experienced contractors who can point to a positive track record. And get everything in writing so you know about all costs as well as the timetable for the project. 

Ready to give your floors a makeover? Contact us and we can help!