The skill of your hardwood flooring contractor and the wood you purchase are two big factors that make all the difference in the outcome of your hardwood flooring project.
Depending on your state, various certifications and licenses may be required. In Utah, an S490 license for wood flooring contracting lets a professional legally install hardwoods that are pre-finished or unfinished. They also can sand, stain or finish existing hardwood flooring.
To be certified, an exam is required and applicants must have at least two years (in the past 10 years) of full-time experience.
Insurance in Utah also may be required, depending on the type of business the contractor has. For example, bond and insurance may be required in addition to general liability, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance.
Always ask potential contractors what licenses, insurances and bonds they hold, and get copies of all documents.
Picking the Perfect Contractor for Hardwood Flooring
You also want to make sure the contractor has experience working with the type of flooring you’ve selected, and that they have a reason for preferring nailing down or gluing hardwood, or a combination of the two. Different woods react to bonding differently, and the width of the planks and location of the home also make a difference.
Ask the contractor what approach they think is best. If they don’t already know what type of flooring you want, now is when they should ask! If you get a canned response like, “I always nail down flooring,” that might be a sign that perhaps they’re not considering all factors of your floor equally, that they take shortcuts or are uneducated on the differences.
Depending on the size of the project (entire house, single room, etc.), you’ll also want to ask the contractor if it’s best if you temporarily move out. This is almost always necessary for full-home projects.
The follow-up question is, of course, how long will the project take. You don’t want to be displaced for long, and if a move-out is required, your project should get priority and be completed within a couple of days.
It doesn’t take long to put down wood floors, but the removal of existing floors and prep work can be labor-intensive. Keep in mind that a reputable contractor will require the flooring to acclimate in your home preferably up to one week before installation to minimize excessive contracting and expanding post-installation.
You’re getting guarantees and warranties from the wood manufacturer, but your hardwood flooring installer also should offer a guarantee. Such guarantees are solely for the quality of their work, not for post-installation scratches and dents that are not the fault of the installer.
Guarantees can vary drastically, but a common time frame is one year from installation. Get all promises in writing, signed and dated.
Just like researching the best hardwood floors, researching the best hardwood flooring contractors is a must. Check out reviews, meet in person if possible and trust your instincts. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” Mae West famously quipped. The same logic should be applied to your hardwood flooring installation.