Buying your hardwood flooring direct and contracting separately for the installation is a very economical way of getting a new floor. You can save a lot doing it this way, but it’s a good idea to follow the precautions outlined below. A good flooring installer will want to do the job right because he will want you to be another satisfied customer.

Hardwood flooring manufacturers such as Efloors Signature, Armstrong, Bruce, Shaw, Kahrs, LW Mountain, Mannington, and Mohawk all have their own unique installation procedures and techniques. Hiring an experienced installer for your brand of hardwood flooring is key to having a properly installed wood floor.

For many people and for many of the newer floors, installation is relatively easy. For other floors and for larger projects, it’s not uncommon to hire someone who installs flooring for a living. The purpose of this article is to give you some of the do’s and dont’s of hiring a flooring contractor for your next project.

  1. Try to get three written bids: Your objective is to get the lowest bid by a contractor who will do the job to your satisfaction, so you’ll need to do a little homework and check out the references each one. In the process of meeting with them you’ll be amazed at how much useful information you’ll pick up.
  2. Secure references: The installer you choose should have experience, specialized knowledge and of course all of the proper tools to complete your project to your satisfaction. As in hiring any one, ask for and personally call three references – people who have contracted with your installer for similar work. Ask the references to rate the contractors:
    1. Craftsmanship
    2. Timeliness
    3. Thoroughness – Did he clean up after he finished?
    4. Integrity – Did he honor his original bid or did he charge extras after he started work?
    5. Reputation – Check the Better Business Bureau for unresolved complaints.
  3. Itemize materials and labor: The bid should itemize all the materials and quantities to be used and it should show total labor costs. It should show any additional charges for flooring removal, repair of sub-floor, cutting of doors and other work related to the finished product. It should also give you a completion timetable.
    1. You should first show the areas to be covered. The bidders will measure the length and width of each area, prepare a scale diagram for you and give you the exact amount of material to be ordered. They will add up to 10% extra material to cover waste. Always keep extra material or “attic stock” in the event you have future repairs.
    2. Next, show the installer a sample of the flooring you have selected. This will help to determine what transition strips, stair nosing, floor vents, quarter round, base board and other accessories you will need to purchase. Print out the manufacturer’s installation instructions and attach as part of your contract.
    3. The bidders should also check the height of adjoining floors, counter tops, cabinets, etc. to make certain that everything will fit properly after the new floor has been installed.
    4. It is essential to have all of your materials on hand at the start of your job in order to get the work finished on time. “In order to finish a job right, you need to start it right.”
    5. Ask each bidder to confirm that the conditions of your home are suitable for the flooring you want to install. He may ask to remove a piece of existing floor or go into the basement or crawl space to check the condition of the basic floor.
    6. If you are living in the home, discuss where the sawing of boards will occur. Specify if you want adjacent rooms sealed with plastic and HVAC vents and returns temporally sealed off. Identify who will be responsible for final clean up.
  4. Ask for license and insurance: Make sure the contractor is properly licensed and that he has adequate general liability and workers-compensation insurance.
  5. Put it in writing: Get the proposal in writing and keep your copy of it in a safe place. If there is a problem along the way, it is always useful to go back to the written contract. Your contract should include, among other things, the number of square feet you’ll need, and a list of any accessories to buy. It should also include his square foot cost of installation and a total dollar amount for the entire job.
  6. Allow time for the flooring material to acclimate before starting work. Keep animals and small children away from the work zone. Maintain interior temperature at about 68 degrees and humidity between 25% and 50%. The moisture content of the floor decking and the flooring material shouldn’t exceed 8%. (See manufacturer’s directions)
  7. Make your final payment only after the work has been completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not threaten you or pressure you to pay or sign documents if the job is not finished properly.

Efloors.com does business with many reputable hardwood flooring installers around the country. Call us and we can probably recommend someone in your area.