You’ve probably seen your share of poor work done by contractors, and wonder why people would hire someone to do that type of work. Unfortunately, those contractors continue to get work every day by selling on price. In the home improvement industry, you will get what you pay for. We cringe every time we hear someone say they got a “better” price somewhere else. They always mean “lower price”, and there is a big difference between the two. Here’s the situations when the “best price” is actually the worst price:
It’s not for the whole job.
Some contractors will bait you by showing a ridiculously low price, leaving out many of the costs associated with the job. The price given may be for just the product, while only giving a per-square foot price for installation. Unless the room is bare to the subfloor, the quote should also include the price for removing and disposing of the current flooring. Trim and transition pieces should also be accounted for. If these costs are not factored into the quote, you’ll either have an unfinished job or be surprised by a ballooning budget at the end. You need real numbers based on your costs to have the work done properly, so that you can budget and make an informed decision.
It’s for the wrong product.
The wrong product at the right price is still the wrong product. Big box stores will sell “house brands” or “private label” brands, which are the lower quality “leftovers” of flooring manufacturers. We install flooring from nationally-recognized brands backed by their manufacturers. Some contractors will install the cheapest flooring they can find so they can underbid the competition, not knowing or caring if the flooring is right for your home.
It’s not from a reputable company.
Anybody can claim they can install flooring: how do you know the quality of their work? That “great” price won’t be so great when you have to pay another company to fix the work. Do some research before choosing an installation company. Check project photos and reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and Houzz. Make sure the installer is licensed to work in your state.
Big box companies hire the lowest-bidding contractor, who will work as fast as he can because he gets paid by the square foot. Then when an issue arises with an installation, the store can point the finger as the contractor to avoid responsibility. While writing this article, we received a call from a customer who had a “friend” install their wood flooring for them. When it came time to finish the job at the doorways, he left the job site and never came back. It’s a story we hear time and time again. We offer a lifetime installation warranty, so we stand behind our installations.
Depending on the type of product, your flooring may need to be nailed down, glued, or floated. Floating a lock-and-fold floor is generally considered the easiest of the three methods, since the floor snaps together and does not need to be adhered to the subfloor. Nailing or gluing flooring is more difficult, so consider a professional installation if you’re not an experienced DIYer.
3. Allow for waste.
If your room is 150 square feet, you can’t just buy 150 square feet of wood. Every product is packaged differently, so the amount of square footage per carton varies. Plus, some boards will need to be cut to fit the room. Generally, a do-it-yourself will need to allow for more waste than a professional flooring installer. Factor in a 5-10% waste factor when calculating square footage needed for your project. Then, round up to the nearest carton.
4. Factor in extras.
When calculating your project budget, don’t forget the additional materials and tools that will be required for the job. For a nail-down installation, you’ll need to buy or rent a floor nail gun–we let our customers borrow a nail gun at no charge. You will need some additional supplies: vapor barrier, foam, staples, glue, putty, or others. We offer many of the supplies needed for a flooring installation, so you can order all of your supplies together.
5. Check the manufacturer guide.
Most flooring manufacturers have guidelines that must be followed for installation. If those guidelines are not followed and there’s a problem with the flooring, the manufacturer will not cover the floors under warranty. Before you decide on a product, read the manufacturer guide to make sure you’ll be able to meet the requirements to be covered by the warranty. Most manufacturers have the warranty information available online.
Too many customers visit our showroom wishing they could put wood flooring in their kitchen but thinking they can’t. The myth that hardwood flooring can’t be used in the kitchen keeps many people from picking a beautiful and practical flooring option. Here are five of the myths we hear about wood flooring in the kitchen.
Myth: Flooring in the kitchen has to be waterproof.
Fact: This myth comes from the confusion between overall moisture levels and occasional spills. Kitchens will, of course, experience the occasional spill. Spills that are cleaned up immediately will not damage your hardwood floors. Limited water damage to hardwood flooring can usually be solved by replacing effected boards. If a tile is damaged, you will likely have to replace a large area, if not all, of the flooring. Some homeowners think they need “waterproof” flooring to protect against a flood. However, most types of flooring–including tile–will not hold up to a kitchen flood.
Myth: Hardwood is too hard to maintain in a kitchen.
Fact: All that is required for cleaning hardwood flooring is floor cleaner and a dry mop, along with a broom or vacuum. We do not recommend using any “refreshers” or wet mops to clean hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are as easy, if not easier, to maintain as other popular kitchen flooring types.
Myth: You need an extra “hard” flooring in a kitchen.
Fact: While a softer wood species, like walnut, is not recommended for high-traffic areas like the kitchen, all wood flooring will dent when heavy objects like pots and pans are dropped on it. Nearly any type of flooring you put in the kitchen will be damaged when hit with a heavy object. Like with limited water damage, single boards of wood flooring can often be replaced when dented. When tiles crack, replacing the cracked tile is much more involved and usually most costly.
Myth: Hardwood flooring in the kitchen needs to go under the cabinets.
Fact: As a rule, we do not install wood flooring under kitchen cabinets. The most obvious reason is that by installing under the cabinets, you’d be paying for square footage that you’ll never see. Some customers worry that they may change their cabinet layout and not have flooring under it anymore. However, any flooring that was under the cabinets will look very different from the rest of the flooring, since it wasn’t exposed to the same light. Plus, if there is water damage to the flooring, it is very difficult to repair any flooring that’s underneath the cabinets. Some kitchen contractors prefer to have the floors installed wall-to-wall before installing the cabinets to make the cabinet installation easier, but it is not necessary.
Myth: Hardwood is more expensive than tile.
Fact: While the product price is often higher for hardwood flooring than tile, installing tile is much more labor intensive. The total project cost is usually higher for installing tile.
Kitchen Hardwood Flooring Installations
Still not convinced wood floors are a great choice for the kitchen? Take a look at these photos of wood floors we installed in our customers’ kitchens.
When customers visit our showroom, they often say, “I don’t even know where to start!” Our sales staff is happy to help guide you through the process, but there are some steps you can take before you leave home to make shopping easier.
1: Take measurements
In order to get a proper job quote, a professional needs to visit your home to measure the areas and evaluate the work to be done. But you can get a better range of your project costs if you know how big the area is, since flooring is priced per square foot. Online calculators—or good old geometry—can help you measure the square footage of your rooms.
2: Identify the flooring you have
If you have flooring in your house you’re hoping to compliment with your new flooring, we’ll need to know what kind of flooring it is. It’s especially helpful if you have an extra board leftover from the previous installation or a piece cut off by your contractor. That way, we can compare the old flooring to our samples in the store. If you can’t bring a piece with you, knowing the species, board width, whether it’s solid or engineered wood, and whether it was prefinished or site-finished can help us narrow down so samples for you to take home and compare.
3: Check your subfloor
If you want to replace your current flooring, you need to know what you’ll be installing on: plywood? concrete? radiant heat? Some flooring types can only be installed on certain subfloor types, or the subfloor may need reinforcement. If you have carpet, you can usually lift up the corner to see what’s underneath. You can also up the vent cover and see the subfloor in the vent.
4: Watch the traffic
Take some time to observe the traffic patterns in your home. Where do the kids spend most of the time playing? Where does your dog like to run? These can help you determine what product is needed in which room. Some wood species and flooring types are more resilient than others and better for high traffic areas. Knowing where your high traffic areas will help you pick the best flooring for each room.
5: Plan to visit the showroom
Many customers think the first step to shopping for hardwood flooring is to get an in-home estimate. However, it’s impossible to give a price for the job without knowing what product we’re installing. We have hundreds of samples in our showroom, so we don’t want to just pick a random product for you. We want to help you find the perfect product for your home.
When Dan Higgins started Dan Higgins Wood Flooring Warehouse in 1985, he sold hardwood floors and NOTHING else. We have expanded our product line a bit since then–we started carrying laminate and LVT flooring once they proved their muster in the marketplace. But one fact remains the same: we DO NOT want to sell you carpet. Here’s why:
It’s too much work for you.
If your family is anything like ours, your life includes messy kids, spilled drinks, family pets, dirty sport equipment, and more potential messes. Constantly worrying about stains and cleaning isn’t how we want you spending your free time. Carpet requires vacuuming, shampooing, and periodic professional cleaning–especially if you’re prone to allergies from dust mites and other allergens that get trapped in the carpet fibers. Hardwood, laminate, and LVT flooring require little maintenance and are easy to clean–a quick sweep or dry-mop with the appropriate cleaner will do the trick. We think you’ll be happier without the extra stress.
It doesn’t look good.
We think it’s time to leave the shag carpet in the past, and consumers agree. Carpet’s market share in the flooring industry has been steadily decreasing over the last decade while hardwood flooring has been increasing. A survey from USA Today found that 54% of home buyers are willing to pay more for homes with hardwood flooring. Today’s style is function, and consumers appreciate the beauty of hardwood flooring along with the low maintenance and lasting value.
Before: Carpeted Stairs. Meh.
Doesn’t this look nicer? We think so.
It doesn’t last.
At Dan Higgins Wood Flooring, we believe in lifetime flooring solutions. We want to provide you with a floor that will add value to your home, not become another expense. Most carpet manufacturers only offer 10 year warranties. We offer a lifetime installation warranty, and most of our flooring products are warrantied for 25-50 years. Since we have worked in the South Jersey community since 1985, we want to sell and install flooring that we know our customers will be happy with for years to come.
Obviously, we’re big fans of hardwood flooring here at Dan Higgins Wood Flooring–we’ve been in the hardwood flooring business since 1985. However, we want every customer to have the best flooring solution for their home and budget, so we offer laminate and luxury vinyl tile flooring as alternatives to hardwood flooring. Laminate and luxury vinyl tile flooring are both gaining popularity in the floor covering industry. Here’s what you need to know:
What is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring is a flooring product constructed by layering synthetic products and laminating them together. Laminate flooring contains a moisture-resistant backing layer, a fiberboard inner core, an image design layer, and a top wear layer.
What is luxury vinyl tile?
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is a flooring product made out a layer of vinyl backing, an image design layer, and a top wear layer. Luxury vinyl tile comes in varieties to imitate hardwood, stone, slate, and ceramic tile.
What is hybrid laminate flooring?
Hybrid laminate is made in layers and is installed the same way as laminate floor, but has the waterproof base of LVT. Hybrid laminates are new to the industry but are gaining popularity, with brands like COREtec (which we now carry) catching consumers’ attention.
No. Engineered wood flooring is real hardwood, made of layers of hardwood and plywood. Many laminate and LVT flooring products are made to look like wood, but they are made of synthetic materials.
Why would I get laminate or LVT instead of real wood floors?
Laminate and LVT flooring can be a good option for rooms with high or variable moisture. All flooring can be damaged by moisture, but hardwood expands and contracts with moisture more than laminate or LVT. Laminate flooring’s fiberboard core can be damaged by high moisture, like standing water in the bathroom, but LVT can withstand very high moisture and many LVT products are 100% waterproof.
Laminate and LVT are also generally low-maintenance and resistant to wear and tear. Customers with pets in the home sometimes prefer laminate and LVT flooring because they are more scratch-resistant than hardwood floors. Laminate and LVT flooring are also popular in office and industrial spaces.
Because laminate and LVT flooring have a printed design layer, they are produced in a variety of colors and designs. Sometimes it is more affordable to achieve a desired look–exotic wood, stone, etc.–with laminate or LVT than the real thing.
Do they look like real wood?
The image layer and the wear layer both impact how well the flooring is able to “pass” as wood. Technological innovations in printing and production have helped laminate and LVT flooring look more “real” than ever. High-end laminates and LVTs have very high quality photos on the image layer and are “embossed-in-register” so that the look and feel of the wear layer matches the “grain” of the image layer. However, some laminates and LVTs have designs and colors that are hard to achieve with hardwood, making it virtually impossible to match the look with real wood, even with custom staining.
To the extent you can measure how a floor “feels”, laminate feels more like walking on real wood than LVT since laminate flooring has the fiberboard core. However, they both feel artificial compared to walking on real wood, especially if installed by floating the floor instead of gluing it down.
At the end of the day, laminate and LVT flooring are synthetic and do not look or feel exactly like real hardwood.
Are they safe?
Laminate flooring got a bad reputation in March 2015 when a 60 Minutes investigation found that Lumber Liquidators-brand laminate flooring failed to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations for formaldehyde levels and was fraudulently labeled. However, laminate and LVT flooring from trusted brands that are independently certified to follow the CARB standards are safe for the home. Just make sure you’re not looking for the cheapest floor, but for brands that have a good reputation and follow government regulations.
Which costs more?
Laminate and LVT gained popularity as the cheaper alternatives to hardwood and ceramic flooring. However, like all flooring products, they vary in price and quality. Some higher-end laminate and LVT flooring products cost more than mid-range hardwood flooring. While laminate and LVT flooring provide more options for the price-conscious consumer, you don’t need to limit your search to laminate and LVT to find affordable options.
How are they installed? Can I do it myself?
If you’re an experienced home improvement DIYer, laminate and LVT installations are both relatively easy DIY projects. Laminate flooring is produced as tongue and groove planks that can be clicked together and is installed as a floating floor. LVT often comes with adhesive already on the product. If the product requires you to supply and apply adhesive separately, the installation gets trickier. When installing flooring, it’s imperative to follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that the flooring will be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. If you don’t have much experience with DIY home improvements, it’s better to get an expert installation.
Which flooring is the best for my home?
The best floor for your home depends on so many factors, it’s best to consult an expert to help you evaluate your project and find the best product.
So you know you want wood floors. But how are you going to narrow down the best product when faced with hundreds of samples in the showroom? The first step is to determine whether you need a solid or engineered hardwood product. Here’s some common questions our customers ask about solid and engineered hardwood floors.
Solid wood is milled from a single piece of 3/4″ hardwood. Engineered wood is made with layers of hardwood or plywood as the core, with a hardwood veneer on top. The veneer is made of the preferred species of wood, such as oak or maple.
Is engineered real wood? Isn’t it the same as laminate flooring?
Engineered wood is real wood, made in layers instead of as one solid piece. Laminate flooring is a different product altogether; it is a picture that simulates the look of wood, stone, or tile on top of a fiber board, but is not made of wood.
What is “below grade” and why does it matter?
Rooms in your home can be at grade, above grade, or below grade. At grade means the room is at ground level, usually the first floor of a house. Above grade means the room is above ground level, such as an upstairs bedroom. Below grade is below ground level, like a basement.
Traditional solid wood does not perform well in room that are below grade. Below grade rooms tend to have higher levels of moisture. Solid hardwood expands and contracts with changing moisture levels. Engineered hardwood has more structural stability so it is more resistant to moisture. Engineered hardwood can be installed at any grade, while solid hardwood can be installed at or above grade.
What’s the difference between how solid and engineered wood flooring is installed?
Solid hardwood flooring can be nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor. Engineered flooring can also be glued, nailed, or stapled, but can also be floated. Floating installation is a technique where the engineered boards are attached to each other and stay over the subfloor without adhesion. Solid wood flooring cannot be installed directly to a concrete subfloor; concrete subfloors usually have high moisture levels and solid hardwood does not react well to moisture variability.
Solid wood contracts and expands more than engineered wood, so installers should leave more space between the boards to allow the wood to expand and contract.
Can solid and engineered hardwood flooring be sanded and refinished?
In most cases, solid wood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times throughout the life of the floor. Many engineered woods can be sanded and refinished, but it depends on the the thickness of the hardwood veneer. Engineered wood flooring with thick veneers can be sanded and refinished up to three times, while engineered wood flooring with thinner veneers may only be sanded and refinished once or, in some cases, not at all.
Which costs more?
It depends. Solid and engineered hardwood flooring vary in price–and quality. The type of installation also affects the overall cost of your project. Solid hardwood and engineered hardwood have comparable costs, so you shouldn’t rule out either option when considering price.
Which is better for my home: solid or engineered?
The best floor for your home depends on so many factors, it’s best to consult an expert to help you evaluate your project and find the best product.