Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Installing Hardwood

We have gone over the initial questions to ask yourself before installing hardwood in your homes but what about once you’ve made your decision?  Your hardwood is more than just flooring, it’s an investment. When selecting a contractor or installer, it’s important to ask the right questions up front to ensure you receive the right flooring for your home and to avoid any warranty issues down the road. These questions will lead the path and tell you a little more about what to expect and how to prepare. 

What is the best type of hardwood for my home?
There are so many different types that can be considered when preparing for an instal. The type of subflooring you have, foot traffic for the specific room will both play a role in your flooring choice. Different species of wood (cherry, oak, maple) have different designs and performance characteristics so choosing the right flooring in your home can mean all the difference in the lifespan of your hardwood.download 4 4 - Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Installing Hardwood An experienced contractor or installer should be able to guide you through this process and assist you in choosing the correct flooring in your home. 

What is the cost?
An in-home estimate is important in determining what type of flooring you can install as well as the total amount you will need to purchase. You really shouldn’t hire a contractor without getting an estimate first. There are many businesses that offer estimates for free while others will charge a fee and then apply it towards the total cost of the job. This is an important question to ask up front so there are no surprises.  Speaking of cost, laminate is the cheapest option for flooring around $3-7 per square foot. Then porcelain or ceramic tile at $4-12 per square foot and engineered hardwood for $4-18 per square foot. Regular wood is the most expensive choice at $6-15 per square foot. 

Are you insured and certified to install my floors?
Please do not overlook this step. This helps protect yourself in case something goes wrong, that’s what insurance is for. It is very important to ensure your installer is certified in order to be confident that the proper guidelines will be followed and your floors will be properly installed. Work that is performed by installers who are not certified could potentially void your warranty and lead to major issues down the road. It is also important that the installer carries insurance and will assume liability in a case of any unrelated damage that they could potentially cause while the work is being performed. Make sure they provide the appropriate documentation. Proceeding with an uncertified or uninsured contractor is not advisable in any business venture.

Can you provide references?
Sometimes the best measurement of how well a company performs can be found in how well or how poorly they performed on previous projects. download 2 5 - Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Installing HardwoodThis is a key component to the process when deciding who will do your hardwood floor installation. Even if they were referred by a friend, you will want to see other testimonials. Speaking with contractor’s references is often the best way to get a sense of how your experience with the same contractor might go. Don’t hesitate to ask for references and follow up with previous customers for specific details. Checking review sites is another good idea, although most of the time, companies only want their best reviews listed online so view them with caution. 

What does the floor warranty include?
Most contractors offer at least a one-year warranty on materials and labor, but some may offer more extensive options. Many times, you’ll get the complete breakdown of what the warranty covers. Make sure you read it! If anything is unclear, make sure to ask your contractor BEFORE the construction begins. You don’t want to get into a situation where you have a problem with your flooring, only to find out that it’s not covered.

Who moves the furniture before installation?
This is a big question that many people forget to address before installation begins. Everyone is worried about their valuables during construction but sometimes it is the homeowners responsibility to move everything prior to the construction team’s arrival. Other times, it’s part of the package deal and the contractors will move everything themselves. This is a big process if you find out that you need to do it yourself last minute. Whether there is a fee or not, this is necessary because your valuables and expensive furniture will need to be protected during the overhaul with your home’s hardwood installation.

How is the old flooring disposed?
Just like the question above about a cost being associated for an estimate, this is one of those things that you should ask beforehand. Some contractors take the old flooring that they rip up and dispose of it themselves for no charge, but that is not always the case with every contractor. By asking this ahead of time, you won’t be surprised when you are charged for the removal of your old flooring. Also, many times you can negotiate with the contractor to reduce this rate or have them drop it altogether if they want your business.

 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Hardwood

Between cost, color, plank width size and different finishes, these decisions can get overwhelming quickly. However, this process does not have to be scary and since it’s a long term investment, it’s important to ask yourself before starting this remodel process. It will make your hardwood flooring installation go more smoothly and help prepare yourself for what to expect. 

Which Room?
The location of your new flooring will be a huge factor in dictating the type of material. Do you plan on installing new floors in your living room, bedroom, kitchen, an entire floor? Answering this question first will help you consider whether you’ll need moisture resistance for areas like bathrooms or basements. download 11 - Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting HardwoodReal wood isn’t ideal for bathrooms, laundry or even kitchens that are prone to moisture because the planks can become damaged. For this reason, many homeowners opt for waterproof LVT. Additionally, think about the amount of foot traffic in each of the rooms you plan to add hardwood. Wood floors are more prone to scratches and discoloration in high traffic areas.

Carpet or Hardwood?
You have so many more options for interior rooms that don’t need moisture resistance. Yes carpet is one option to consider, it is usually chosen by people who love the plush, soft texture. Or are you a homeowner that is drawn to the versatility, low maintenance and sleek appearance of wood floors? 

Kids/Pets?
Many think that carpet is ideal for when their little ones are just learning to walk or crawl but on the flip side, it is more likely to stain. download 1 4 - Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting HardwoodHardwood floors, tile and laminate are typically more stain-resistant, as long as they are cleaned up quickly. Durability is a heavy weighing factor when it comes to pets and kids. For synthetic materials like polyester and nylon carpet and for hardwood, maple and oak are the strongest. 

3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your Home

Natural light is always better than artificial light. It helps bathe your room in full, rich hues that light bulbs just can’t duplicate. Natural light increases your body’s “feel-good” serotonin levels and best of all, costs you nothing. Nothing compares to the warm feeling of sunshine on your face, especially in a cold, dull winter. Bringing this warm sunshine and natural light not only lifts your spirits, improves your health and even helps to save on energy. Can’t beat it. download 6 1 300x150 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your Home

Unfortunately, there are a lot of homes that are just not built with natural light in mind. But short of picking up your house and physically moving it, one would think that the only option is major renovations. But, you will be surprised at the many different ways to increase natural light in your home. 

Add Mirrors
You may have heard that adding a mirror to a wall will help make the room not only look bigger but if you put one across from a window, it can help double the amount of sunlight that enters the room. download 5 1 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your HomeAdding other shiny objects help reflect the light back into the room so adding decorative mirrors, furniture with glass, silver picture frames and other reflective surfaces will help bounce sunlight around your room and brighten up the space. download 4 3 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your HomeSince mirrors reflect light, if you strategically place them to face the windows and bounce the brightness around the room. If you have a glass door, furniture with glass paneling, face them in the direction of any natural light to further amplify the effect. 

Lighten Up Your Colors
Painting walls and ceilings white or another light color may seem like a no-brainer for adding more light and you’re right! Interior wall color is the best way to reflect natural light back into your room. Light Reflectance Value (LRV) can range from 100% for pure white down to 0 for black. Nothing is brighter than pure white. If you really don’t like white but want more light, look into other tones in that same family. 

If you’re not ready to repaint walls, then focus on the ceiling. download 3 4 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your HomeThey are usually painted white for a reason, because white reflects light. Since ceilings can often go unnoticed when looking at a rooms decor, there’s no design penalty for going with white. Flat white is the preferred color over glossier sheens because a matte finish reduces glare and ceilings don’t need the washability of glossy finishes because they don’t get touched regularly like walls. download 2 4 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your Home

Light colored hardwood floors like oak or maple can give you another surface to evenly reflect light. Additionally, their reflective properties mean that they can effectively hide dust or dirt. While this can be tough to redo right away, you can refinish your floors and add a lighter stain or if you love your dark floors, just paint your walls a lighter color and add light colored area rugs for additional warmth. 

Don’t block windows
Since the sun is your primary source of natural light, you don’t want to block it from shining into your home. If furniture (tables, chairs, couches) have their backs against a window, move them inwards to the space, even just a few inches will help create a pathway for the light. Light window treatments or curtains with thin fabric will help the sun’s beams come through. download 1 3 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your Home

While making sure nothing is blocking the windows on the inside is important, the same thing goes for the outside of the windows. Landscape and trees outside of the home can enhance the look and create the ever important curb appeal. images 4 - 3 Easy Ways to Increase the Light in Your HomeThe more greenery that you have on the outside of the house, the less light can get inside, especially if you have large trees or bushes in front of windows. Keeping these large tree branches and bushes trimmed will help ensure the light can get inside of your home. You can even consider replacing any plants that are overgrown with perennials that are lower to the ground or flowering annuals that can help keep the widows clear. 

Choosing Carpet For Your Family Room

Your family room often serves as the social gathering place of a home, bringing family members and friends together to relax and socialize. However, because of all the socializing and often more foot traffic than say, the living room, the flooring choice might be more important than you think. Hardwood continues to be a popular choice, but many homeowners still steer towards carpeting to cover family rooms and game rooms where people gather. Therefore, it can be quite important that the floor is soft, comfortable and cozy. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve explored flooring options, you’ll find that modern carpet choices have been upgraded. Not only can you choose from a wider range of colors and textures, you also have upgraded materials (natural materials like jute and wool to environmentally friendly materials like nylon and polyester). Beyond that, durability, ease of cleaning, color and construction can make a big impact on choosing the best carpet for your family room. 

Here are a couple of factors to consider when choosing a carpet for your family room. 

Construction:
The construction of carpet can make a big difference in the look of your room. The construction factors include pile and style (say that six times fast). 

Pile – cut piles are known as plush, while uncut piles are looped. Other options are patterned loop, which has loops of multiple heights and cut and loop, which creates a pattern. 

Style – cut piles styles include smooth, texture, twist (known as frieze) and shag. Smooth styles look the most formal, while twisted and shag are more casual. Loop pile styles include level loop, known as berber – which is ideal for high-traffic areas because of how dense it is.

download 300x92 - Choosing Carpet For Your Family Room

Color:
Selecting a color is a very subjective decision. The carpet color that you choose depends not only on your personal taste and decor style but also on considerations like the intended use of the room, the natural light exposure in the room and even the color of your pet (choosing a carpet color that doesnt’ show your dogs hair can be a big advantage). With the right hue, your carpet can disguise the foot traffic from family, guests and pets. There is no need to always choose a dark brown carpet to hide dirt and spills. As it turns out, darker carpet color could even end up showing marks and spills more readily. download 9 - Choosing Carpet For Your Family Room

Bad color choices can be fun but often become outdated quickly. Neutral-colored carpets, including gray and beige, don’t go out of style. If you decide to go with a neutral, don’t be afraid to go with lighter colors, which can make your room appear larger. Many carpet options are now made with stain and soil-resistant technology that makes them easier to clean. Consider carpeting with slightly different colored threads, like Berber, to further disguise soil. Just like you would do with paint colors, bring samples of carpet home with you and see how they look in the different light throughout the day in the room of choice. 

Cleaning:
Because the family room is one of the most used rooms in the house, spills frequently happen in here more than any other room (besides the kitchen). Having flooring that is easy to clean will make your life so much easier. There are many carpet options that come with a lifetime warranty. For the best possible peace of mind, look for a carpet that has a “no exclusions” policy – meaning that any substance commonly excluded from most of the other stain warranties (bleach or pet accidents) are fully covered. 

Durability:
Because of the high-traffic nature of the family room, carpets should be durable. This rooms’ floors typically get the most use and has the highest level of traffic besides the hallways and stairs. To ensure that your carpet will withstand the wear and tear of everyday life, look for high-quality carpet that features a good wear warranty. When shopping for the best carpet for your home, test the quality of the product by bending the sample backwards. If the backing easily shows when you do this, the low-density carpet is of lower quality and will crush faster. A carpets durability is measured in face weight, gift twist and density rating. Look for a 34-40-ounce face weight, a tuft twist of 5 or more and a density rating of 2,000 or higher. 

Padding:
Even if you can’t see it on a day-to-day basis, you will definitely be able to feel the difference of good carpet padding. The right padding is the key to a more comfortable surface and even better yet, noise reduction. It can help provide an extra source of protection against premature wearing of your carpet too. The more traffic expected in the room, the denser the padding should be.

Fiber Softness:images 5 - Choosing Carpet For Your Family Room
If your family ends up spending a lot of time on the floor playing board games or having sleepovers, movie nights, the softness of the carpet can be an important consideration. Most manufacturers today have a line of “soft” carpets, which feature more fibers than traditional carpet fibers. This softness can be achieved with a carpet cushion placed beneath the carpet. Many people believe that it is possible to achieve a balance between softness and durability. Modern “memory foam” carpet padding can offer the best of both worlds – great durability and softness.

Signs It’s Time to Refinish Your Hardwood

Hardwood floors are known for their beauty as well as being able to stand the test of time. But they do require maintenance as well as care to reach their full potential. From time to time the floors need to be sanded and refinished. But how do you know it’s time? Here are the top signs it’s time to restore and refinish your floors. 

Water damage
After being sealed correctly, hardwood floors can be capable of resisting some moisture. As in, if you spill a little water, it should bead up and give you time to clean it up. download 7 1 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your Hardwooddownload 8 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your HardwoodBut over time, constant foot traffic and daily wear and tear can wear down the sealant. So when you notice liquids soaking into the flooring right away, they need to be refinished and resealed before any warping and stains occur. 

If your wood flooring has sustained water damage, you can see separation or cupping on some of the boards, and even stained, dark areas. If the boards are just cupping a little, this can usually be fixed with sanding, but if there is major separation then you’re more than likely going to have to replace the boards in full or even sections if boards turn black. 


Lots of Scratches
Having a large number of scratches on your hardwood floors is one of the more obvious signs that your floors are in need of being download 6 300x150 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your Hardwoodrefinished, especially if those scratches have worn through the stain. A few scratches can be normal and aren’t something to worry about but if your floor is covered in them, especially in areas you can’t easily with a rug, it might be time to refinish them. Sanding and resealing will smooth out the surface of the wood and make it look like it was newly installed. Even paint that has dripped on the floor will be removed. download 5 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your HardwoodBut every once in a while you may have large gouges and places where wood has been deeply cut or split. These tend to be less common and when they do happen, you can replace just those pieces of wood with new ones. But rest assured that most of the scratches should come out with a simple sand and refinish.

 

Fading
Overtime, ultraviolet (UV) rays cause the hardwood to look dull and faded. This is the most common on the floors closest to the windows. download 2 3 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your HardwoodIf you have area rugs or large furniture, fading may become unevenly distributed, usually only becoming noticeable when you move furniture around to redecorate or move. download 7 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your HardwoodRefinishing the floors and applying a new stain will help renew their protection against sunlight and keep the colors of your floors vibrant at the same time.

 

 

Boards Turning Gray
When the boards on your hardwood start to turn gray, it’s definitely time to refinish them. And you should do it sooner than later before you have even more damage.  download 4 2 - Signs It's Time to Refinish Your HardwoodYour floors are begging you for help! When the polyurethane (top coat) wears off, the layer of protection is gone and the wood can now absorb the water. This water can come from rain, snow, pets paws, a spilled drink and even just common cleaning products (during normal maintenance). When the wood absorbs the water, it oxidizes and turns gray. If you don’t repair these boards, the wood will eventually turn darker until it’s black. At this point, you will need to replace them as sanding will not solve this.