Many homeowners are convinced that installing laminate flooring is as easy as putting together a large puzzle. Even the best installation by untrained hands will quickly lead to gaps, peaking at the seams, buckling and warping of your flooring. Besides, amateur installers are susceptible to cuts, lacerations, punctures, and even amputations from the use of power tools like saws and drills. Such accidents account for over 7 million emergency room visits annually.
The installation of laminate flooring is a delicate task that will take your time and test your patience as it requires careful calculations, subfloor preparation, and paying detailed attention to the room's temperature and humility. While all these are easily achieved by a professional laminate flooring installer, the contractor will also help you select the appropriate laminate flooring brand and material. Some laminate floorboards are known to contain formaldehyde, which is hazardous and possibly cancerous to human health upon unchecked exposure. Note, in 2019 three out of the seven work-related fatalities recorded amongst floor installers were caused by exposure to such harmful substances.
As such when looking to hire a laminate floor installation contractor near you, ensure the professional is conversant with the EPA regulatory standards on laminate flooring products and can answer the following questions satisfactorily:
Although licensing requirements vary by state, laminate floor installers are typically required to have some form of licensing, and so you should always make sure that your laminate floor installer is properly licensed per the requirements of your area of residence. In some states, mandatory licensing is required for all projects that exceed a particular amount. For example, Arizona requires a contractor’s license for any project that costs more than $750, while Iowa and Tennessee require licensing for projects that cost more than $2,000 and $25,000 respectively. California requires a license for any project that costs more than $500, and it also issues a specific C-15 flooring and floor covering contractor’s license to laminate floor installers. On the other hand, some states like New York, Idaho, Illinois, and Kansas handle licensure at the county and municipal levels.
Since there is no unified licensing law binding all states, it is always a good idea to contact your state’s licensing board or state department of labor to verify the licensing requirements for laminate floor installers operating near you. Note that it is considered an offense for unlicensed laminate floor installers to work and receive compensation for jobs. Several states, including Arizona, Florida, and California, prescribe sanctions such as fines and possible jail time for these types of actions.
In 2019 alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses and 5,333 fatal work injuries. On its own, laminate floor installation exposes workers to physical hazards like cuts, tears, and bruises from power tools. It also exposes workers to chemical hazards from substances like formaldehyde which causes skin irritation, burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat, nausea, coughing, and wheezing. Considering all these, it is always a good idea to hire a laminate floor installer that is insured and bonded. Doing this not only protects you from any potential lawsuits if your installer gets injured on the job, but it also ensures that you do not incur any losses if this installer does not complete the job on time and as specified.
Make sure that your laminate floor installer’s insurance and bonding are up to date and that it includes general liability and workers’ compensation insurance plans, as well as surety bonds enough to cover the cost of your project. It is also advisable to contact your state’s consumer protection office to find out whether there are any mandatory insurance and bonding requirements for laminate floor installers near you.
Laminate floors come in various sizes, surface types, and finishes, and they can be installed in different ways. Some laminate floors require the application of glue to hold the boards together during installation, while others utilize a glueless tongue and groove locking system.
Also, laminate floorboards typically come with Abrasion Criteria (AC) ratings that specify their durability and impact resistance. These AC ratings typically range from 1-5, and the higher the rating, the more resistant the board is to wear and tear. As such, AC1-rated boards are best installed in areas that have low to moderate traffic like closets and bedrooms. AC 2 boards are suitable for general residential use and are typically used in living rooms and dining rooms. AC3 boards are suitable for heavy residential or moderate commercial use like in hotel rooms. AC4 boards are for general commercial use in offices and boutiques, while AC5 boards are for heavy commercial applications such as department stores.
Before hiring a laminate floor installer near you, you should confirm the type of laminate flooring that this contractor is skilled at installing. You should also make sure that your installer is adept at handling any tools and materials that may be required for the job. These usually include hammers, power saws, measuring tapes, scrap wood spacers, and underlayment. You should also make sure that your laminate floor installer takes factors like subfloor moisture content and acclimatization into consideration during the installation process. This ensures that the laminate flooring properly adjusts to the atmospheric conditions of the area where it is installed, and reduces the chances of installation-related errors and damages.
Installing a laminate floor in your house can be pretty invasive and so it is always a good idea to know who will be involved in the work. To complete your job in a timely fashion, your installer may delegate parts of the job to employees and apprentices, especially if the scope of the job is more than only one person can conveniently handle. Ensure to ask for the contact details of any workers that will be involved in the job, and make sure that these workers are properly licensed, insured, and bonded. You may also request a timeline for the completion of the job from your laminate floor installer. This enables you to plan adequately for the required period and also provides you with a way to assess the progress of the ongoing installation.
A warranty may be oral, written, or implied and is offered when a product or service is acquired. Laminate floor installers typically offer two types of warranties; a manufacturer’s warranty for the materials used for the installation, and a labor warranty for the installation process itself. Warranties usually have specific details like expiration dates, services, and materials covered, discounts or price reductions, and conditions that can make them void. As such, you should always request written copies of any warranty that you are offered and ensure that you properly read and understand it. Professional floor installers near you would not hesitate to offer you a warranty in writing.
Permits are official approvals that have to be obtained for certain home improvement projects. These permits are usually required for construction, repairs, or remodeling that will result in a considerable change of your home’s structure or footprint. The specific types of jobs that require permits, as well as the procedures for obtaining these permits, are determined at the local government level.
Depending on your locality, installing laminate floors in your home may require a permit, but it is always a good idea to confirm this from the local building department office near you. Note that failing to obtain a required permit for a job can lead to fines and other penalties.
This should always be a non-negotiable part of the hiring process. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission strongly advises that you never hire a contractor that cannot give you a minimum of three verifiable references. Professional laminate floor installers will readily provide you with the contact details of satisfied clients that can vouch for their quality of work, and some installers may also offer you pictures of concluded installation jobs. If a laminate floor installer hesitates to provide you with references, then this is a huge indication that the installer may be unqualified for the job. You can also check the internet for reviews on your laminate floor installer left by previous customers near you through websites like Google Reviews, Better Business Bureau, and Yelp.
It is estimated that the United States has more than 30 million registered small businesses currently conducting business across the country. One of the requirements for business registration is obtaining a government-issued business license. Always make sure that your laminate floor installer is authorized to conduct business in your locality by requesting a copy of this installer’s business license and validating it with the office of Secretary of State in your state of residence.
Some common problems associated with laminate flooring include:
- Dents: Dents occur when the underlayment of the laminate floor is poorly done. They are also caused by heavy items that fall on the floor or hardened debris in the heels/soles of shoes.
- Peaking: Peaking occurs when two laminate planks bump against each other and form a joint in the shape of the letter ‘V.’ Peaking is caused by improper installation that does not allow the laminate planks space to stretch around the walls but instead forces them together.
- Scratches: Although laminate floors are highly durable, their smooth surfaces leave them prone to scratches. Anything from shoes with sharp heels to dragging furniture across the floor can be dangerous as they damage the floor and also affect the aesthetic value of your home.
- Fading: Fading occurs as a result of constant friction and exposure to sunlight. Although it does not affect the strength or durability of your laminate floor, it can adversely alter its appearance and the beauty of the room as a whole.
- Gaps: Gaps can occur as a result of improper installation or board shrinkage. When laminate flooring boards are not fitted properly, they move away from each other and make space between them. Room temperature changes usually cause board shrinkage, or if the laminate flooring boards were not adequately acclimated before installation.
- Endlifting: Endlifting occurs when the ends or edges of the laminate floorboards are raised. It is caused by excessive moisture from the underlayment, subfloor, or the laminate itself, and it can appear across a section of the floor or in isolation.
- Doming: Doming is caused by excess moisture and high humidity levels in rooms where laminate floors are installed.
- Bowing: This happens when the laminate floor has a bow running across the board’s whole length, making it impossible for the boards to stay together when installed. When bowing occurs, the surface of the laminate floor is bouncy, making it uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to walk or place objects on. Bowing is typically caused by improper storage of the laminate floorboards either at the manufacturers or the retailer from whom it was purchased.
- Delamination: Delamination is the separation of the different layers of a laminate flooring board, especially the core and top surface layer.
The average cost of laminate floor installation in the United States is $6 - $15 per square foot, including the cost of materials and labor. The total cost of laminate flooring is affected by several factors including the size of the area that is to be floored and the type of laminate boards that are to be used. Some laminate floor installation cost estimates are listed below:
COST BY TYPE OF LAMINATE FLOORING PER SQUARE FOOT:
COST BY LAMINATE FLOORING FEATURES PER SQUARE FOOT:
The cost of laminate floor installation is affected by the following factors:
There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a laminate floor installer and most of these individuals learn on the job through employer-organized training and apprenticeships. Laminate floor installers also have the option of obtaining professional certifications from trade associations like the North American Laminate Flooring Association and the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association. The Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that there are currently more than 16,000 employed floor layers in the country.
It is always a better option to employ a professional laminate floor installer near you instead of a handyman or attempting to do the job yourself. Professional laminate floor installers have the necessary training required for a proper and safe installation, unlike handymen that do not have any specific training. A professional laminate floor installer is also more likely to be licensed, insured, and bonded, thereby protecting you from any work-related financial damages.
The most common post-installation cost associated with laminate floor installation is the cost of replacing any baseboards that were removed before the installation. This can cost you an average of $1 - $3 to do. It is a good idea to find out whether your laminate floor installer will have to remove these baseboards before the installation job, or whether the job can be properly done with the baseboards still intact.
It is estimated that more than 5% of insured homes filed an insurance claim in 2018. Homeowner insurance provides financial protection against property damage and liability for sudden and unexpected damages that occur in people’s homes and home-related assets. These usually include fires, water damage, theft, lightning, wind, and hail damage. Therefore, if your laminate floor is destroyed by these types of perils, it is very likely that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the cost of replacing it. However, if you are installing laminate floors for the first time in your home, or if your laminate floor was damaged by factors like lack of maintenance or old age, then your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover any of these costs.
It is always a good idea to properly understand the basics of any homeowner’s insurance policy that you wish to purchase. This includes the specific types of damages to your home that the insurance policy will cover.
More and more small businesses, including laminate flooring contractors near you, are willing to accept Digital payments these days. Digital payments are financial transactions facilitated over digital platforms such as credit/debit cards, digital wallet apps, QR codes, and online payments. These types of payments offer several benefits, including convenience of use, prompt credit, and enhanced security. However, before signing off on the contract, inform your installer you will be paying via one of these electronic platforms.