It's not uncommon for homeowners to assume that they don't need a hardwood flooring company to install new wood floors in their home, or that any general contractor is qualified to install engineered hardwood or laminate floors.
Installing wood floors is not a DIY job. Hardwood floors require specialized know-how and experience, and a homeowner should always rely on a qualified hardwood floor company for their new flooring installation.
Before you decide on new flooring for your home, or assume that you can watch online tutorials and install wood floors on your own, note some important reasons why you should always call a qualified hardwood flooring company for any such installation. It's also good to review the differences in wood floor options as well as some advantages of hardwood versus carpet and tile, so you're happy with your home's new floors for many years to come.
Why You Need a Flooring Professional for Hardwood Floor Installation
To better understand why installing hardwood floors is not a DIY job, note a few important details of the installation process. Many of these steps are very intricate and require the know-how and experience of a trained professional, and are not easy skills to master! You can then find the best “hardwood flooring companies near me” for your home’s flooring installation.
- Wood flooring needs to be acclimated to its new climate, meaning that it must get accustomed to the amount of humidity inside a house. Very often, wood floor planks are delivered to a home many days or even a week or two before their actual installation and then left to sit, so those planks can absorb surrounding humidity or dry out as necessary. A flooring installer will know how to check wood planks and note if they have expanded or shrunk according to their surrounding climate.
- Before installing wood floors over existing tile or timber planks, a flooring installer will measure their depth or height, and the height of the existing floor. This process ensures that doors can still open without scraping the surface of those new timber floors! If the new flooring planks are overly thick, the existing floors need removing.
- Many wood floors come with an underlayment, similar to carpet padding. Underlayment absorbs noise and creates a softer feeling underfoot. This underlayment is installed over the home’s existing floors or subflooring, and then also cut to size.
- Timber planks might be glued or nailed in place, while some snap together and float over the existing flooring. After the acclimation process, wood planks might be difficult to fit together, and a flooring installer will need to gently but firmly tap them into place.
- A flooring installer will also know how to add spacers between wood planks and the surrounding walls, to allow for expansion and movement.
In some cases, a wood floor might require a few days to settle and expand, or the glue used for the planks might need some time to dry thoroughly before you can walk on those floors. A flooring installer will know how long to wait before opening a room with new hardwood flooring, to protect those floors from damage
Some wood floors also require onsite finishing. Finishing floors onsite refers to adding stain, paint, shellac, sealcoating, or other such coatings after installation. A flooring installer will note the best finishes to use, to create the vibrant color you want on your floors and to ensure proper protection for the wood.
Tips and Tricks for Wood Floor Installation
One reason that a homeowner might avoid managing their hardwood flooring installation is that professional installers know lots of tips and tricks for ensuring a secure installation, and for creating a beautiful appearance from those floors. Note a few of those tips and tricks, so you better understand why installation is not a DIY job!
- A professional flooring installer will typically set out all the planks before installation begins. This step allows the installer as well as the homeowner to determine the best direction for the slats, and ensures that there are enough planks to complete the job!
- A homeowner might choose prefinished floors for a more consistent color and appearance. However, there are still typically some variations in wood finishes between boxes or bundles of planks. Mixing up the planks from different boxes or bundles allows for a more natural and attractive look.
- A homeowner attempting their installation might try to "eyeball" the direction of the slats as they work. A professional installer will usually add precise chalk lines to the underlayment instead, ensuring that the planks will be level and even.
- The current floor might require sanding for a smooth and even surface. However, you want to avoid sanding any surface with lead-based paint or asbestos. A professional installer will know how to recognize or test for these substances before sanding or will add a layer of thin plywood over the flooring instead.
Solid, Engineered, and Laminate Flooring; Which Is Right for Your Home?
Even if you hire a flooring installer rather than trying to manage hardwood floor installation on your own, you still need to choose the floors themselves! A hardwood flooring company can typically assist in selecting the best flooring for the look and style you prefer, but note some information that can also help you choose between solid, engineered, and laminate flooring for your home
Solid hardwood, as the name implies, is a solid plank of a particular hardwood species. Engineered hardwood is a thin piece of your desired timber species glued over a section of less desirable material, such as plywood. Solid hardwood is more expensive to purchase, but because of its thickness, it can be sanded down and refinished more often than engineered hardwood
Laminate floors are not wood; laminate flooring consists of a high-definition photograph of a timber species, placed over a layer of plywood. A thin layer of protective plastic covers the photograph. Laminate flooring is very durable and is an excellent choice for basements, laundry rooms, and other spaces with too much humidity for real wood floors, but laminate flooring cannot be sanded and refinished
Can a Homeowner Install a Floating Floor?
A floating floor is not nailed or glued to the subfloor under it but is snapped together and floats or gently sits atop that bottom flooring layer. Floating floors are easier to install than planks or tiles requiring nails or glue, but this doesn't mean a homeowner should assume that they can install a floating hardwood floor!
One consideration to keep in mind is that solid hardwood is rarely cut into a floating floor. The tongue-and-groove design needed to snap floating planks together is difficult to cut into many solid timber species, whereas the underlying plywood of an engineered floor is softer and easier to cut. If you prefer solid hardwood for its durability and longevity, a floating floor might not be an option.
A floating floor also needs a solid surface under it, and a homeowner may not be qualified to assess the condition of their home's existing floors! A professional installer can examine the home's flooring and subfloors thoroughly, and determine if plywood or another material is needed before the installation of floating floors.
5 Essential Tips for Choosing Wood Floors for Your Home
Once you've decided between hardwood, engineered, or laminate tiles, you need to choose the right color and style of flooring. Note five essential tips for selecting the best color tone, species, and other such details when in the market for wood flooring
- Very wide planks have a more rustic and casual look but might overwhelm a small room. Narrow planks fit a modern décor and style but might look cluttered in an overly large room. Choose a plank size based on the style you want while also keeping the room size in mind as well.
- Opt for a timber species with a natural color close to your desired shade, whether that's a dark walnut or a lighter oak. When you choose wood colors closest to your desired tone, you won't need to paint or stain those floors, meaning less work and expense!
- Consider the availability and affordability of the timber species you choose, keeping in mind that some timber slats will eventually need replacing. An exotic, rare species might become very expensive in time, resulting in high replacement costs, whereas a locally grown species will typically be more affordable and available throughout the years.
- A softer wood such as pine is easy to sand down, something to consider if you're thinking of maintaining wood floors yourself over the years. However, softer timber will also be more prone to showing dents and dings from foot traffic, furniture movement, and the like. Be sure you consider your everyday foot traffic and wear and tear on the floors versus its needed maintenance when choosing a soft versus dense wood.
- When choosing the color of wood floors, be sure you consider the amount of light to which they'll be exposed. Dark walnut floors might seem very rich and elegant, but in a room without much light, they might create a cave-like look! On the other hand, light oak floors might seem overly casual and rustic or even a bit bland in a room with lots of light.
Why Choose Hardwood Over Carpet or Tile?
If you're concerned about the cost of having a professional install new wood floors, you might note some advantages of hardwood, engineered wood, or laminate floors versus carpeting and tile, so you better understand why wood floors are a sound investment for your home! One consideration is that wood floors are typically more durable than carpeting, so you may need to replace timber flooring far less often than carpeting over the lifetime of home ownership.
Note, too, that wood flooring is typically easier to keep clean than rugs and tile. Carpet fibers and the pits and pores of floor tiles tend to trap and hold dust, dirt, mud, and other such debris. A household vacuum and everyday mopping are typically not sufficient for removing these bothersome residues. Dense hardwood doesn't trap and hold dirt, so timber floors generally are cleaner and more hygienic for your home.
Timber flooring also offers flexibility in its color tone and shade. If you want to change the overall look of your home's wood floors, you can have them sanded and then repainted or stained. You can then go from light and rustic flooring to one that is dark and rich, or vice versa, much more easily than trying to change the look of carpeting or tile floors
What is reclaimed wood and is it durable for flooring?
Reclaimed wood refers to timber pieces taken from jobsites, demolished homes, and the like. Some flooring companies treat and finish reclaimed wood to create new flooring planks. Wood planks can last for decades if not centuries, making reclaimed wood a durable choice for residential flooring
Are hardwood floors noisy?
The underlayment placed underneath wood planks will help absorb noise. Tile, carpeting, or another flooring underneath a floating floor also works as an insulator. If you're concerned about noise, such as for second story rooms, discuss your insulating options with a hardwood flooring company.