One of the most important decisions to make about purchasing a hardwood floor is to decide whether to install it yourself or to hire a professional. The decision lies in a number of factors including: choosing a site finished or a prefinished floor, the type of hardwood floor, the room itself, and perhaps most importantly, the budget for the project.
Site Finished vs. Prefinished Floors
Prefinished floors are finished by the manufacturer before they are packaged and shipped to the retailer. They are usually the best way for do-it-yourselfers to go because there is no worry about having to sand and finish the floors. The warranty lasts longer on the prefinished floors because they are coated with more finish. The typical warranty on prefinished hardwood floors is 20 years, where the typical site finished floor has a warranty that expires within three to five years. A downside to prefinished floors is that they can only be sanded and refinished a couple of times before they need to be completely redone, due to the way they are made with just a few layers of actual hardwood. Site finished floors are best installed by a professional because they must be nailed down, sanded, and finished by hand after the installation. It takes a few days for the entire job to be done, and if not done properly, could lead to issues with the floor later on.
The Type of Hardwood Floor
There are a couple of different installation types to consider. Nail down hardwood floors are typically the best looking and most successful installations, but this is also the installation that calls for the professional or a seasoned expert at the very least. Glue down hardwood floors are not much simpler because of the mess associated with the adhesive used to secure the floor to the subfloor. There are some people who will do glue down installations on their own, but we recommend using a professional for this method to ensure it comes out as expected. The simplest and most cost effective method to install your own hardwood floor is to use the lock and fold installation, where the planks lie on the floor and snap together.
The subfloor in the area of the home where the hardwood will be installed will have some say in whether to use nail down or glue down floors as well. If there is a concrete subfloor, nail down hardwood floors cannot be used, unless another subfloor is installed over the concrete.
Consider the room the installation is for and if it is straightforward enough to handle on your own. If the design of the room is complex, it may be worth having a professional do the work.
If the project doesn’t have a large budget to work with, self-installation may be the best way to go for the money. However, it is important to remember you get what you pay for, so having a professional do the installation for a bit more money could save money in the long run. Talk to several different contractors and installers for quotes to see who can give the best deal, but also look for references to see who can provide the best work.
Whether you install the floor yourself or hire someone to do it for you will greatly depend on your ability to take the time to learn what you need to know to install the floor properly, and the timeframe you have to complete the project. If you don’t know the slightest thing about installing a hardwood floor, you’re going to be better off hiring someone to help you.