Have you decided you want to add the timeless choice of hardwood flooring to your home? It’s likely you’ve been drawn in by the appeal of the added charm and value it can bring to a home. You aren’t alone. Returning to the beautiful and classic feel of hardwood flooring is something many homeowners find appealing. While we know there are some rock-star DIYers out there, at Wall 2 Wall, we realize others are leaning toward an installation service but don’t know what they should be considering. You are in luck. As experts, we can share some key things we think you should pay attention to and expect from a great wood floor installation service.
1. Picking Your Flooring
You are at the point where you’re fully committed to installing some wonderful hardwood floors and now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks and think about the details. The first step is to determine what kind of hardwood floor you want—and we don’t mean which type of wood. There are two types of wood flooring to choose from before you even think about wood type and color. They are hardwood and engineered hardwood.
Hardwood flooring is, as you can imagine, planks of solid hardwood through and through. It’s usually crafted of hardwood species such as oak, maple, and walnut. The benefit of this type of flooring is that it’s not only strong and sturdy, but with the proper care and maintenance, it can last a lifetime. This is due to its ability to be sanded and refinished many times throughout its life span to ensure a beautiful appearance and constant appeal.
Engineered hardwood is a popular alternative because it has similar qualities but at a reduced cost. This product is a thin layer of hardwood bonded on top of high-quality plywood. Because the thickness of the hardwood is substantially reduced in comparison to solid hardwood, however, it can only be sanded and refinished a handful of times. This could translate into a shorter life span of the floors—about 25 to 30 years—or longer periods of time between that newly finished floor look and when it dulls because of foot traffic, sunlight bleaching, and standard wear and tear. Each type has its benefits and challenges to consider.
2. Choosing a Contractor
Once you’ve picked your flooring, you can settle on the best contractor for your wood floor installation. Sometimes these two steps are reversed, as a contractor can give good insight into the types of floors that would be best suited for your home, style, and needs. Start by getting estimates on the size or square footage required for your space and for the total cost.
It’s important to ask questions to ensure you’re getting a service you can trust. Things to focus on when you receive an estimate is where they plan to prep and cut the wood. Is it inside your home? Do they seal off the rooms with plastic to protect the rest of the house? How do they handle baseboards? Knowing if your contractor can also assist in refinishing and repairing your floors down the road is also important for great wood floor installation service.
After contractors and flooring have been chosen, it’s time to pay attention to the work. Some things to look for to ensure you’re getting good service will be acclimation, subflooring, and after-installation care instructions.
Acclimation is the process by which your hardwood flooring accustomed to the conditions of your home and space. Specifically, it’s ensuring the wood finds equilibrium between the temperature and moisture content of the wood materials with the air of the space in which it’s being installed. Failure to take this step can result in your floors having excessive gaps, warping, or cupping after the installation is complete. While acclimation timelines vary by wood species and product, a minimum recommendation is three days.
This step is not always required for engineered hardwood, so check the guidelines for the flooring you’ve chosen.
Since hardwood flooring doesn’t just sit on top of air, it’s important that the wood floor installation service also checks and prepares the subflooring. This starts with ensuring the subflooring is clean of debris that could affect how well the boards fit together during installation. Your contractor should also check that the floors are dry. Excess moisture in the subflooring can cause your hardwood floors to expand too much after installation.
Lastly, they should ensure the subflooring is flat and there’s no sound when someone walks across it. If any areas squeak, they need to be replaced or fixed before installation begins. As with any major project, a good foundation is key.
5. Care Instructions
After all of the choices, preparation, and installation comes the finished product. While the excitement of having your newly completed floors may be a little distracting, make sure you understand this isn’t the end of the line. Every great wood floor installation service will follow up all their hard work with some education on how to care for your newly installed floors. This should include proper cleaning methods and frequency.
Since the type of hardwood flooring and species chosen can have an impact on your maintenance schedule, be sure to get this information. Engineered hardwood floors are not exempt. A big concern with upkeep is moisture control, and your contractor should discuss steps you can take to prevent damage.
Other standard recommendations from your installation service may include watching for wear and tear. They can point out some general indicators for when refinishing should be considered in the future. You as a homeowner can also take your own preventative measures and use felt pads under furniture corners so as not to scuff the wood. Area rugs are also a great form of protection but try to avoid ones that have rubber backs as they can leave permanent marks on the floor and even discolor the wood. There are other options for ensuring your rugs don’t slide, such as rug grippers.
If these five things have all been covered by your contractors, you should feel comfortable knowing you have a great wood floor installation service. For more information on hardwood floor services, Wall 2 Wall is available to assist you with questions and general recommendations.