Let us say, Peter is building a house in a prime locality. As he is quite particular about choosing his building materials, he is equally cautious about the flooring as well. He prefers to do solid hardwood flooring, and would like to choose an expert contractor, but is confused on how to go about it.
If you are in the same situation as Peter, or would like to know how to upgrade the flooring of your home with quality wooden flooring, this article would help you.
Hardwood is an excellent choice as flooring material. You can choose among infinite styles, try out various colors and combinations of floor and area rugs and create a contemporary fashion statement.
However, it is important to hire experts in the field because ultimately it is the way your wooden flooring is installed that speaks a lot.
Things to Remember Before Hiring a Wooden Flooring Expert
This is perhaps the most important parameter in choosing a wooden flooring company. Once you have an expert in your hands, the job is half done. You can do this research either online or by asking around.
Take out your list of wooden flooring companies, visit their website and analyze the kind of installations they have done in the past, what kind of materials they are experts in, the method of preparing subfloors, the adhesives they use, the standards they follow in the sanding and finishing process and so on.
A lot of planning and foresight goes into a wooden flooring project, so the company should possess an expert team with certified professionals, and quality equipment to ensure a highly detailed job. While looking into the details of the company and its team, check their reputation as well.
You can also check whether they are members of NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association). If yes, then there is nothing to worry because you have thorough professionals working for you, with industrially trained staff.
Members of this organization continuously receive resources that enhances their skills. You can research on the company, the felicitations and awards they have received, other accreditations and so on.
2. Review Company References
By following the step mentioned above, it would be easier for you to concentrate on a few reputed wooden flooring companies. Next, visit their websites and read customer testimonials.
If you can reach out to people who hired them to discuss their experience with the expert, then making a final decision would be much easier for you. For starters, you can ask the following questions:
- Was the company completely knowledgeable about the job?
- Were the rates reasonable?
- Did they complete on time?
- Did they cleanup after the job was done?
- Was the quality of work up to the mark?
In order to make sure you are hiring the right people, you can ask to see their licenses, insurance and other relevant documents.
3. Ask for a Detailed Quote in Writing
But, that’s not all. There are more factors to be involved to ensure there are no hiccups when the project is underway. If you have finalized on a wooden flooring company, it is important to sign a contract before starting the work.
Prepare a legally binding contract that gives thorough details about the project:
1) Scope of work
In the scope of work section under the contract, you will find details about the milestones and deliverables about the project. It will also contain mention of the labor and materials used to complete the wood flooring project, whether the work involves repair, refinishing the existing wood flooring, details of material handling and so on.
2) Type of wooden floor installation
Depending on where you live, and what your needs are, the flooring type will vary. The installation method (standard, diagonal, picture-frame boards, Basket-weave, Parquet, custom inlays, etc.) will also vary. This should be discussed in detail with the contractor and the final requirement will have to be entered into the contract. This is important because the wooden floor type chosen will determine its life.
3) Cost of the installation work
Ultimately, everything boils down to the cost of installation. There should be a detailed breakup of cost of wood, adhesives, other materials and equipment used, labor costs, removal of the previous flooring (if any), the type and condition of subfloor, whether you are installing any decorative items and finally, the location. If waste disposal is required, then it would also add to the final cost of installation.
4) Deadlines for completion of work
Work progress can be checked only if deadlines are met. Make sure there is a deadline for each stage of the project right from checking for moisture to leveling the floor and throughout the entire process of installation.
4. Range of Timber Species
A lot goes into choosing the right timber flooring for your home. As it is an integral part of room decor, the color scheme of the furniture and the walls must also be considered. And then you have the choice of timber – like parquet, solid hardwood, reclaimed boards to decide on. Certain kinds of flooring do not need a subfloor, while certain bundles of planks look totally uninspiring unless they are laid.
Ask the contractor on the range of timber species offered by his company and choose the one that would be suitable for your environment and climatic conditions. The timber flooring must blend well with the environment it is installed. Aesthetics comes next. It should look elegant with an authentic attractiveness that can break the monotony.
5. Acclimation of Hardwood and Monitoring Moisture Content
The contractor must be able to tell you how he will acclimatize the wood to the new environment, i.e. your home. The wood should go through the proper seasoning methods to match the EMC or Equilibrium Moisture Content.
Every reputed wooden flooring company will have their own expert who monitors the moisture content of the floor and the subfloor by taking moisture content meter readings through the entire period of installation. He must also take the moisture and humidity readings of the room and surrounding areas as well.
This is very important because solid hardwood floors have a tendency to shrink during summer and swell up during the monsoon season. Hence, it is important to acclimatize the hardwood by bringing it to the work-site and leaving it there for at least 3 days before it is ready for moisture content checking.
6. Preparation of the Suitable Subfloor
The subfloors play a very important role in wood flooring installation. If the subfloor is prepared well, you can be assured of the quality of floor. Your contractor must be able to tell you how he is going to prepare the subfloor and the material he will be using for doing it.
Mostly, plywood is the perfect choice for subfloor installations. The contractor will need to check factors like flatness, smoothness, moisture content, cement to sand ratio, etc. before starting to prepare the subfloor.
It is also important to ask the contractor how he will assess the subfloor for strength and moisture. And the type of adhesive that’s going to be used. Also, check what method he would be adopting for preventing the chances of moisture migration.
7. Precautions are Important
Wood, when improperly handled can cause severe health effects to everyone in the vicinity. It is the responsibility of the company to take sufficient precautions during sawing, sanding and finishing.
Find out what all precautions they will take while handling organic solvents and other toxic substances like epoxies, polyurethane, and nitrocellulose resins, urea-formaldehyde, and additives.
The dust and toxic fumes must be properly contained and cleaned at the end of each working day, so there will be no lingering effects. It is important to know how and where they will do the sawing work.
8. Post Installation Customer Care
Once, the wooden flooring is installed, you have a beautiful home. But the job is not finished. You may have to do regular maintenance from time to time. What does your contractor tell you about post installation care?
They must be able to advise you on how to deal with pets, high heeled shoes and spills. Post installation, they should continue to advice and support you on wood care.
Timber flooring is the most preferred choice in hardwood flooring because it is ecologically sound and can be suited to any kind of home. It would be good to find out whether the timber is procured from sustainable forests and certified sources because the wood manufacturers should have to be certified themselves.
If you have any other questions apart from the ones we have discussed above, make sure you ask them before the work begins. It is important to hire a wooden flooring company who really know the ins and outs of the job.
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