Picking out your flooring is only half the battle. Even the best product will not last or look beautiful if installed poorly. Dealing with a bad contractor can leave you with an unfinished installation, poor workmanship, and money down the drain. Here’s how to select a quality flooring installation contractor:
Check who will actually be doing the installation.
If you buy your floors through a big box store, they may offer free or cheap installation. However, those installations are often subcontracted to the lowest bidder. Sometimes you get what you pay for: the lowest bidder is probably not the most skilled or experienced.
Get a realistic timeline.
When work is done in your home, you’re rearranging your whole life around your contractor. You don’t want any extra days of work added at the last minute. Contractors sometimes don’t want to give you the whole truth if they think it will deter you from booking the job. It’s better for you if you can plan ahead for a big job. If the speedy job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Ask for credentials.
Here in New Jersey, it’s illegal to professionally perform home improvement work without being a registered contractor, subject to jail time and penalties of up to $20,000 per offense. Registered contractors are also required to prove proper insurance coverage. If your contractor isn’t willing to show your proof of registration and insurance, they could be working illegally. If something goes wrong on the job, you could be left out to dry. Some contractors have been known to cut and run.
Read the warranty information.
If you already have a product selected, check the manufacturer’s warranty. Many flooring manufacturers require proper job site preparation, wood acclimation, specific installation types, and moisture requirements. If a contractor isn’t following the warranty requirements, your warranty will be voided.
See when they want to deliver.
If the contractor is planning on showing up the day your wood is delivered or is bringing the flooring on the first day of the job, find another contractor. Wood delivery is the canary in the coal mine for an installer. Wood is a living, breathing material that contracts and expands due to temperature and moisture. If the wood isn’t acclimated to the inside of your house, it cannot be properly installed. If your contractor isn’t taking the time to make sure the wood is ready to install, what other corners are they cutting?
Find out what happens after the job.
The job doesn’t end on the last day of installation. Even if a floor is installed correctly, repairs may be required. Will your contractor follow up with repairs free of charge? If you need to make a warranty claim, will you need to file it? If your contractor doesn’t offer follow-up services, you can be stuck with the added expense and aggravation of repairs and warranty claims.
Don’t decide by price alone.
You will live with your floors every single day. It’s a big investment; you want it done right. Find the balance between affordability and quality, or it will cost you in the long run.