Hiring a flooring contractor is an important decision. Depending on the quality of the flooring you are installing, this decision will affect you for a long time.
It always puts you a step ahead to get a personal referral for a flooring installer from a friend or colleague, but if you can’t, here are the top five questions to ask prospective installers. (And remember, it’s good to get three estimates and cover these questions with each contractor.)
Make sure the estimates you get are detailed, separating product costs and installation costs, and exactly what is included in the installation costs.
This written quote becomes a legal and binding document in most states and most professional installers will ask that you sign the estimate before they begin.
References and Online Reviews
As mentioned above, it’s great to have received a reference from someone you know. It’s okay to go the distance and ask for a couple more. Follow up on those and find out how well the contractor met their expectations in the following areas.
When you search for online reviews, look for both positive ones, as well as negative ones. Bear in mind that most contractors will have one or two complaints. That is normal, and it’s not a reason to eliminate a contractor, unless they ignored or didn’t handle the complaint well.
It’s all about percentages. The bulk of the references and reviews should paint a positive picture, and the handful of legitimate issues should be handled quickly and well.
Are you licensed and insured?
A strong signal that a flooring contractor is legitimate is that he or she is licensed and insured.
Of course, if we are only talking about flooring, a contractor’s license is sufficient, however if your project includes electrical and plumbing work, your contractor should carry licensing for those as well.
While most projects go as planned, your flooring contractor should carry insurance for those rare instances where some unexpected happens. Ask them what their coverage limits are. It should be enough to repair or replace any damage that happens on your property, or in the case of commercial spaces, or shared living spaces like apartments, their coverage limit should be high enough to repair damage that may occur to other spaces as well.
How long will the job take, and how soon can you start?
With flooring projects, you will need to know the ‘lead time’. A good contractor will spell out how long it will likely take for flooring product to be ordered, delivered and acclimated. This has to happen prior to the actual installation part of the project. Depending on the type of floor being installed, there could be a finish cure time, and a clean-up process.
Get a full understanding of when they will be there and what days they won’t, and ask them if they are currently experiencing any industry-wide supply chain delays.
How do you prepare hardwood flooring for the installation process?
Hardwood is acclimated to the environment is it currently in, whether that be humid or dry. Depending on moisture content, wood swells and contracts. You can see what a problem it would be to take hardwood acclimated to humid conditions, where it has swelled, cut and install it and then have it contract (shrink) causing the boards to appear to be too short.
Ensure that your flooring contractor acclimates your hardwood flooring to your location’s environment, before installing. This can take a few days or a few weeks, and is measured by moisture content readings on both subfloor and flooring so that they are not more than 4% different.
How will you prepare the subfloor?
Beautiful flooring laid on top of a subfloor with issues is a recipe for disaster. It should be clean, flat and dry. As mentioned above, the subfloor and flooring should be a close match in moisture content.
Choosing a flooring contractor is an important decision, but if you ask the right questions up front, it can give you confidence that you are making a great choice.
Looking for flooring installation in the Austin TX or Delray Beach FL areas? We’d love to give you a free estimate. Go here to request yours.