There are many great reasons to replace household carpet with hardwood flooring including adding value and style, ease of maintenance, durability and sustainability (read more about the benefits of hardwood flooring here), though there are also a handful of items that must be taken into consideration before tearing out your beat up shag.
How Do Moisture Levels Affect Hardwood Flooring Installation?
Especially in areas of low elevation or environments which experience heavy rainfall or high humidity, moisture is a critical area of concern. Nothing can damage flooring or void manufacturer warranties faster than exposure to higher than specified levels of moisture. Have this conversation with your flooring professional before choosing materials! Whether your home is built on a slab or raised foundation, moisture testing is the best way to ensure your floor will look and function its best, protecting your investment. Calcium chloride testing is an easy procedure to determine the moisture any concrete slab is currently giving off. This vapor is a direct result of the moisture present in the ground underneath and exists to some extent in EVERY slab. Covering the ground under your crawl space with a plastic sheeting ensures the humidity from the ground will never reach your wood floor. 65% of the air you breath in your home moves up from the space beneath your floor. Treat it well! As long as moisture levels are known in advance, steps can be taken such as subfloor preparation and the use of proper adhesives to achieve a quality hardwood floor that can last for 50 to 100 or more years.
What are the costs of installing hardwood floors?
Hardwood Floor Installation
Installing hardwood flooring is typically a more involved project than simply replacing carpet.
Project Cost - hardwood is a premium product and a sound investment but no one wants to pay more for materials than needed. While it is prudent to research cost per square foot pricing of various materials online and at multiple retailers, it is the holistic project cost that truly matters most. Discuss your total budget with your flooring professional to ensure that there are no unknown costs. 50 cents or a dollar per square foot of material is easy to compare at the onset but isn’t as likely to drastically impact the total project cost as much as the preparation and installation required to complete the job. Labor, adhesive, tax, shipping, furniture moving, cleaning, etc are all real costs which should be factored in.
What is the Hardwood Flooring Installation Process?
Once your project has been finalized (including proper moisture testing), the installation process begins, most often the process is as follows:
material delivered on location at least 1-2 days in advance to acclimatize
preparation - furniture is moved (advisable for homeowners to move small and delicate items including electronics and collectibles) existing flooring is removed, surface area is examined for imperfections and addressed as needed, baseboards and trim removed if necessary
new flooring material is installed including transitions and any baseboard or trim reinstalled
area is cleaned and furniture put back into place
If you want the job completed to your absolute satisfaction, discuss details in advance with your installer about potential issues and how they should be addressed:
if the subfloor is uneven, do you want to pay the added expense to have it leveled or are you ok with some dead spots and minimal raised sections?
if the flooring is to butt up against staircases or other design features, how will it be trimmed out?
are there existing elements such as floor vents or electrical outlets that need to be incorporated or added?
What is Hardwood Floor Matching?
If you already have hardwood flooring in some areas of your home and are looking to add more, trying to match the two surfaces is next to impossible. Even if you are able to find the exact material from the same manufacturer, your existing floor will show signs of age. In addition to normal wear and tear such as minor scratches and dents, the top coat will have worn with foot traffic and light exposure. Further, manufacturers continually alter components of their products either in attempts to improve them (top coat application), update the style and function (micro-bevels on the board edges) and out of logistical necessity (every dye lot is slightly different).
The human eye is very percept at picking up slight changes. Because of this, it can be jarring and distracting to have two areas of flooring be very close in appearance but not exactly matching. The best approach is to embrace methods and designs that break up the transition so that your eye views the sections as separate but complementary zones. Experienced professionals can guide you through this process and provide several options for the best aesthetic and functional outcome:
choose alternate materials and colors that work well with your existing flooring and the room itself
install wood transitions that purposefully break up the sections so that they do not appear simply as a poor match attempt
lay the new hardwood in a different direction to create a natural shift in lines
If your existing hardwood is comprised of natural plank (not engineered wood), it is possible to sand the material down and refinish the entire surface for a true match. This is a major project that will include much added time and expense. Sanding creates insidious dust; the whole home will need to be vacated along with all furniture and even with immense care, it will cling to every surface.
Eckard’s Flooring and Design Center has flooring professionals in Savannah, GA and in Bethany, Carrollton, St. Joseph, and Stanberry, MO. Eckard’s Flooring Design Center is a family business with over 50 years of experience and can help you every step of the way to design and install your perfect floor.