Why you 'want' to spend more for flooring installations.
Often times when we are out providing free estimates for potential clients we hear the tales of lower prices. It seems as though there are installers out there that still offer the $1.00 per square foot to install laminate flooring and now vinyl floor also. While we can't speak about these flooring contractors because we don't know them and we haven't seen their work. We can explain why, from our experience, you want to spend more per square foot for a flooring installation.
I'm not a lawyer by any right, although I understand the issues presented in she said / he said cases. The issues surrounding them are the burden of proof and then ultimately the cases are concluded via trier of fact. What does this have to do with my floors you say? Well without a witness, who's words could swing the facts or relieve some burden, a case must be concluded on only the evidence presented; and now we make the point. We have seen quite a bit of evidence to strongly suggest you want to pay more for your installations.
While removing some laminate floor for a customer that had become dated we engaged in some conversation with the clients about how the laminate floor had been installed. We noticed that the door jambs had all been undercut, which is what we would expect to see, and that the lines were nice and straight. When we made mention of the wear on the long edges of the laminate planks we were informed that the former installer may have been hitting the floor too hard with the mallet. Whoa!! This is a very strong no-no! Although there are times, no matter what anyone say, that the flooring installers will have to use a mallet, this doesn't mean you whack every piece on its exposed edge. Shortly into this element of the conversation we were then informed that those exposed edges were there almost as soon as the floor had been installed, solidifying our assumptions about the laminate installers clobbering the new materials.
While working for a commercial account installing over 5,400 feet of window jamb extensions, door jambs, window casing, door casing, baseboards and shoe moulding, terrible things happened around me. For one whole day, over 12 hours , louder that my radio, all I could hear was BANG-BANG...BANG-BANG...BANG-BANG. You get the idea.
The fella above me had been installing the new laminate floors and he was doing a real bang up job.
When the dust settled, and France was once again free of the occupiers the floor looked superb. All the cuts were around the studs where we would be installing the door jambs were great. The distance off the walls was perfect for expansion and oh how it could expand now.
I went home and talked about this to no end, actually until I was told that I was boring someone, which I understand since I wouldn't let it go. I couldn't stress enough that laminate floors can't be installed that way. How have these contractors and flooring installers been doing this for so long?
A few days later when in conversation with the GC he made mention of the floor and how he wasn't sure how to tell the property owner that the floor was not of good quality. Engaging, I curiously asked what the problem was and the answer was what I expected, although much sooner than I had anticipated. The flooring was separating. It was the result of the locking mechanism being broken during the installation process.
This is the part where it all begins to add up .The part where any quality installer, contractor or tradesman will explain that you do things right and you do it once. The reasons are obvious and mostly costly.
I have seen flooring that has been cut around door jambs exposing the subfloor. Flooring that has been cut 'up to' quarter round. No kidding, I have seen laminate floor that had be laid in place, not locked end to end or lengthwise simply laid on the subfloor.
In all these cases, including the examples I mentioned above there are a few options; live with it, replace it, fight it. More often than not its the first, live with it, which is usually followed not too many months after with, replace it. Fight it usually happens too late if at all.
Trier of fact
When it comes down to it, the proof has been at your feet the whole time. The cost to have materials installed property isn't really a cost at all, it's a savings whereas having materials installed cheaply is usually the true cost.
Whether is't your floor, kitchen cabinets, tiles or what have you, the results are usually the same. Albeit there are a few obvious exceptions. For instance, assume the area the floor was to be installed was quite large and well squared, with no need to prepare the subfloor or cut around walls then yes, maybe the cost would be lowered from traditional floor plan installation. An estimator would be able to properly explain why the cost might fluctuate.
Now I know there will be some people that would like to argue this view so I should point out now that I used words like 'usually' and 'often times' not 'always' or 'will'. I did this intentionally because I have met trades people that are fantastic at their jobs and charge less than others because they don't need to. They're retired or they're doing the work as a favour, thought the number of those people are quite few.
Ultimately, when looking to have work performed follow your nose. If it smells rotten, don't bite, or you may very well find yourself on a nasty hook.