Professional vs. DIY Installations

Professional Laminate Floor Installation - Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

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It can be difficult to decide whether you want to undertake a flooring installation by yourself or hire a professional contractor to do the work for you. The following are several things that you may want to take into consideration.

The Costs

Most people decide to install their own flooring in order to save money. If you do the work yourself, you don’t have to pay for labor. However, there may be unexpected costs associated with undertaking this project on your own. Use the chart below to compare the different factors that will determine how expensive this project will be.

DIY Costs

  • Materials for subfloor preparation and floor installation
  • Labor for subfloor preparation and floor installation
  • Equipment: Purchase and Rental
  • Supplies: Grout, stain, sealer, nails, screws, baseboarrds, adhesives and others
  • Breakage: If materials or tools break you will have to pay to repair or replace them.

Contractor Costs

  • Materials for subfloor preparation and floor installation
  • Labor for subfloor preparation and floor installation
  • Furniture Moving costs
  • Delivery
  • Finishing work, sealing, trim
  • Cleanup and Disposal

Professionals will own the tools and purchase the materials in bulk whereas you will have to pay retail for your supplies and will have to borrow, rent, or purchase all of the tools necessary.

In some cases, you will be able to lower the cost of using a contractor if you are willing to handle furniture moving, material delivery, and or cleanup and disposal yourself.

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The Experience

Only you know exactly how experienced you are at home repair and renovations. The more experience you have at successfully undertaking “do it yourself” projects, and especially at working with flooring, the more likely you will be able to install the material that you choose.

Before you decide, read the installation instructions carefully and make sure that you understand them completely. Consult with the material vendor if you have questions, or just to ask for basic advice.

The Material

The installation of different flooring materials will require different skill sets and levels. Consult the chart below for a rough overview of the abilities required for each one.

  • Ceramic and Porcelain tile: Slightly easier to work with than natural stone, these tiles still require a moderate level of proficiency for a clean installation.
  • Natural Stone Tile: Installation of natural stone can be tricky if you do not have experience working with tile and adhesives, requiring a moderate level of proficiency.
  • Hardwood and recycled wood flooring: This will require knowledge of woodworking including how to accurately measure and cut boards, as well as the use of a hammer and or screw gun.
  • Carpet: Carpet generally requires a high level of proficiency if you want to do a professional job. You need to be able to make accurate cuts and use special tools.

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The Design

In some cases, you may have trouble coordinating colors, or getting a clear vision of what you want the room and the floor to end up looking like. For this reason, you may want to consider consulting with an interior designer. Often speaking with a professional for as little as an hour or two can open you up to potential possibilities that you would never have considered on your own.

Dealer Questions

When purchasing material, ask the vendor the following questions in order to make sure that you understand all of the ins and outs of the installation procedure.

  • Does it require specialized tools or materials? Can those be rented from the vendor?
  • Are there special requirements for installation?
  • Are there characteristics of the material that can cause problems?
  • Is there a warranty, and what does it cover?

Working With a Professional

Before contacting a contractor, you need to accurately measure the room’s walls and features. Create a drawing of the space on graph paper, using a scale to reduce the figures that you got from taking measurements. This sheet will allow the contractor to estimate material costs so that they can give you a more accurate installation quote.

When getting a quote from a contractor, you have to understand exactly what it specifies. Find out how long the job is going to take, what you will be responsible for paying, and what they will be responsible for doing.

If possible, try to avoid agreeing to hourly labor rates. If you can get a flat quote for the entire installation then the contractor will have an incentive to get the work done quickly and move on. If you agree to an hourly rate the workers and the contractor will be incentivized to do the opposite, taking longer on the work so that they can get paid more.