A Metrie survey shows that over 90 percent of real estate professionals agree that custom millwork, mouldings, and trim affects the overall price of a home. Decorative woodwork home improvements do not only add to your interior's aesthetics, they boost your home's resale value and also impact your lifestyle positively. According to the National Association of Realtors, 65 percent of homeowners experience greater enjoyment in their homes consequent upon such remodeling.
Although it might be tempting to undertake a decorative woodwork project by yourself, these types of projects are best left to professionals nearby. The woodwork industry is guided by several national safety standards that are designed to reduce the occurrence of injuries like lacerations, cuts, and amputations. Nail guns alone account for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. Hiring a certified contractor limits your exposure to the numerous safety and health hazards associated with millwork while also ensuring that your decorative woodwork is intricately created and expertly installed. To ensure that you hire the most qualified decorative woodwork contractor near you, you should ask the following carefully curated questions:
Are You a Licensed Decorative Woodwork Contractor?
Decorative woodwork contractors in the United States are generally required to obtain a form of occupational licensing that certifies their competency in the trade. However, the specifics for obtaining these licenses vary by state. Some states like California, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington mandate decorative woodwork contractors to obtain a millwork contractor license. In some other states, a carpentry or home improvement license may suffice. Note, in states like Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, and New York that do not require a state-level license, decorative woodwork contractor licensing is left for municipal authorities
Because of these varying requirements, it is always a good idea to contact your state's licensing department or consumer protection agency to find out the specific licensing requirements for decorative woodwork contractors within your locality. These offices can also help you verify any licenses that these contractors may present to you.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Decorative Woodwork Contractor?
Decorative woodworking involves the use of hand tools like saw blades, hammers, and nail guns, all of which pose significant physical hazards. It is estimated that hand tools are responsible for about 8% of all workplace injuries. In 2019 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 16 fatal workplace injuries and 3,120 nonfatal workplace injuries amongst woodworkers. These figures serve to illustrate the importance of insurance and bonding when hiring a decorative woodwork contractor.
Proper insurance and bonding spare you from having to bear any financial costs if your contractor is either injured on the job or fails to properly complete your project per your agreed-upon contract. Always request copies of insurance and bonding certificates from any decorative woodwork contractor that you intend to employ and make sure that they are up to date. Generally, decorative woodwork contractors are required to have a general liability insurance plan, a workers' compensation insurance plan, and surety bonds enough to cover the cost of the project. However, it is a good idea to contact your state's consumer protection agency to find out if there are any specific insurance and bonding requirements for these types of contractors in your locality.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
Generally, the wood used for woodwork is classified as either hardwoods, softwoods, or engineered wood. Contrary to their names, hardwoods are not always harder or more difficult to work with than softwood. Rather, these names come from the types of trees that they are gotten from. Hardwood refers to wood gotten from trees that do not cones or needles like mahogany, oak, and maple, while softwood refers to wood gotten from trees that produce cones and needles like cedar, spruce, and pine. On the other hand, engineered wood refers to composite panels made from residual wood fibers, strands, and particles. All three classes of wood can be used for both interior and exterior decorative woodwork, and the type of wood used for a project largely depends on the homeowner.
As such, when hiring a decorative woodwork contractor, it is always a good idea to make sure that the contractor can handle the type of wood that you intend to use for the project. Your contractor should also be able to install your preferred type of wood trim. Several types of wood trim can be used both in and out of your home, and some common examples include:
- Casings: these are typically used to cover unfinished gaps in window and door frames
- Baseboards: these are typically placed at the bottom of walls to give flooring a defining line
- Crown mouldings: these are used to decorate the intersections between walls and ceilings
- Picture rails: these are used as a decorative way to hang pictures on walls without creating nail holes in the walls
- Chair rails: these types of decorative woodwork are used to protect wall areas from scuffs and scratches made by chairs and other movable furniture
- Wainscoting: this type of decorative woodwork involves using wood paneling to cover the lower part of a wall and it also serves a protective function similar to chair rails
Many professional decorative woodwork contractors are skilled at handling any type of wood and installing any particular type of wood trim, but it is always a good idea to get a confirmation on this from your contractor.
Who Will Do the Work?
The number of workers that will be needed to complete your decorative woodwork project usually depends on the size of the project. It is also common for decorative woodwork contractors to take on apprentices, so even if the scope of your project is small enough for just one worker, your contractor may still bring an apprentice along. Ask your decorative woodwork contractor if there is a chance of this happening before any work begins. Also, find out how many apprentices will be involved, the amount of work that will be delegated to them, and how this will affect your bill. Finally, make sure that these apprentices have valid insurance and bonding coverage, and that they are licensed per the requirements of your locality.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
You should always find out whether you will be offered a warranty on your decorative woodwork. This warranty is a legally enforceable assurance of the quality of work done by your contractor. Professional decorative woodwork contractors generally offer a workmanship warranty that assures you that your installed decorative woodwork will serve its intended purpose without any defects for a specified timeframe. Note that warranties always come with terms and conditions that have to be followed otherwise they can be voided and no longer enforceable. Therefore, it is always a good idea to request a written copy of any warranty that you are offered.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Permits are not typically required for the installation and repair of decorative woodwork. However, because local governments are directly responsible for determining the permit requirements of their jurisdictions, it is always a good idea to contact your local building department to verify this before you begin any decorative woodwork project.
An advantage of hiring a professional decorative woodworking contractor instead of attempting to do the project yourself is that these contractors are knowledgeable about the permit requirements of their localities. This is important because undertaking a project without obtaining the necessary permits can result in severe penalties.
Will You Provide References?
Before you hire a decorative woodwork contractor, request a list of references from this contractor. Any contractor that hesitates to provide this information or that cannot provide you with up to three verifiable references should be stricken from your list of potential decorative woodwork contractors. In addition to these references, you can ask for pictures of decorative woodwork jobs that the contractor has completed. Alternatively, you can perform online searches on your decorative woodwork contractor to get unbiased reviews from past clients through websites like Google Review, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau.
Do You Have a Business License?
Decorative woodwork contractors that wish to conduct business in the United States are required to obtain a government-issued business license before they can legally do so. However, unlike occupational licenses that are issued to individuals, business licenses are issued to registered business entities. It is estimated that business entities with less than 500 employees make up about 99.9% of the registered businesses in the United States, and these include businesses that are either owned by or employ decorative woodwork contractors.
The requirements for obtaining a business license vary by location. As such, in addition to making sure that your decorative woodwork contractor has a business license, you should also authenticate this license through your state of residence's Office of the Secretary of State.Â
What Are Common Decorative Woodwork Problems?
Some commonly experienced decorative woodwork problems include:
- Splits along the grain lines
- Water damage and staining
- Wood rot
- Cupping and warping
- Glue smears
- Loose or missing trim
- Pest damage
- Fuzzy wood
How Much Does Decorative Woodwork Cost?
Installing decorative woodwork like trim and moulding in your home will cost you an average of $4 - $8 per linear foot. The total amount that you end up paying depends on the size of your home and the type of wood that you use for the project. Some common decorative woodwork estimates are listed below:
Cost estimates by type of decorative woodwork:
Cost estimates by type of wood per linear foot:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Decorative Woodwork?
Several factors affect the cost of decorative woodwork and they are:
What Qualifications Should Decorative Woodwork Contractors Have?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are more than 7,300 employed woodworkers in the country. Even though many of these woodworkers, including decorative woodwork contractors, learn their trade on the job, they are generally required to have a high school certificate or its educational equivalent. Some professional decorative woodwork contractors also go a step further by obtaining certifications from professional organizations like the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America and the Architectural Woodwork Institute.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Decorative Woodwork Contractor?
Decorative woodwork is a very specific type of work that requires special tools, experience, and skills like a keen understanding of geometry to attain seamless and aesthetically pleasing results. As such, it should always be left to professional decorative woodwork contractors and not handymen.
What Are Common Post Decorative Woodwork Expenses?
The most common post decorative woodwork expenses are the costs of painting the newly installed woodwork and disposing of any old woodwork that was removed. Painting decorative woodwork will cost you an average of $1 - $3 per linear foot while disposal can cost you anywhere between $5 and $50, depending on the amount of old woodwork that was removed. Note that some decorative woodwork contractors include these costs in their bill estimates, and so you should verify this with your contractor.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Decorative Woodwork Expenses?
Your homeowner's insurance will only cover your decorative woodwork expenses if they are a direct result of sudden and unexpected damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 90% of the home insurance claims losses that were filed between 2014 and 2018 were caused by property damage from water, fire, lightning, wind, hail, and theft. However, if your decorative woodwork is damaged by factors like old age, lack of maintenance, and general negligence on your part, then your homeowner's insurance will not cover any repair or replacement expenses.
Note that the specifics of homeowners' insurance policies vary and so you should always read and understand the fine print of any policy that you intend to commit to.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Decorative Woodwork Contractor?
Yes, you can. Your decorative woodwork contractor likely accepts digital payments through debit and credit cards as well as mobile wallet transfers. These types of payments are widely accepted across the country because of their relative speed, security, ease of use, and instantaneous receipt generation. Nevertheless, you should always inform any decorative woodwork contractor you intend to hire that you will be paying for services via digital methods. Also, if you have to make any cash transactions, it is advisable to collect a receipt of payment for each of these transactions.