The cost of installation will vary depending on where you are in the country and whether the project is union or non-union. Included in installation costs and necessary for you to be aware of is substrate preparation. The condition of the substrate is of paramount importance to a successful flooring installation. The preparation required can be minimal or extensive. If there is flooring already installed, the substrate condition won’t be known until the old flooring comes up. If the new flooring is a vinyl product, the substrate will require a very smooth finish. There may also be compromising adhesive residue that will have to be removed and, as mentioned earlier, moisture issues to address. Nailing down the cost of substrate prep may be difficult but substrate preparation has to be done — it is mandated by flooring manufacturers. But be aware that the estimate you’re given by the flooring contractor will be just that: an estimate. So keep an open mind here.
In some cases, the new flooring material — such as luxury vinyl tile and plank, and carpet tile — may be installed without adhesive. Keep in mind that, if moisture exists in the substrate, you have to be concerned with it percolating under the new flooring and creating several unsavory issues such as activating old adhesive and having it ooze up, or triggering the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria which can be treated with a mold, mildew, algae, and bacteria killer prior to installation.
Once you’ve decided what flooring you’re going to employ, it is best to do a mock-up installation to find out if it looks the way you expected it to from the sample and to ensure that it will stick to the substrate and respond to traffic as you want it to.
Lastly, have a specification of some kind so there’s a guideline to follow for the flooring material, the installation, and qualifications of the product and people working with it as well as the site conditions.
To summarize, here’s a short guideline of key steps you might want to follow to ensure that your flooring project stays on time and on budget:
• Determine your budget.
• Determine what type of flooring you’re going to use.
• Research and source the product.
• Confirm that it will work where you’re going to use and perform as you expect it to.
• Find a qualified and professional flooring contractor.
• Test the substrate.
• Prepare the substrate.
• Make sure the space is ready for installation.
• Leave enough time for the flooring to be properly installed.
• Protect the installation.
• Have a maintenance plan in place to care for and maintain the new flooring.
Remember this: Most if not all problems with flooring after it has been installed could have been avoided. You want to avoid being in the position of having to determine what went wrong and why and who’s at fault and how to fix it on the back end. It’s much easier to do things right on the front end to make sure you don’t feel the pain of a flooring project that went wrong. Don’t forget that words do not change the laws of physics. The flooring material and the conditions affecting it don’t care who says what about what you can do or shouldn’t have a problem with.
Lewis G. Migliore is head of LGM and Associates, which offers technical flooring services, including specification development, new flooring projects, and failures of existing floors. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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