The floors of our homes serve as the foundations for our lives. They withstand footsteps, support furniture and create the backdrop for our cherished memories. Over time, floors can lose their luster, succumb to wear and tear, or simply fail to align with our evolving tastes and lifestyle needs. If you’re considering replacing flooring in your home, here are three things to keep in mind.
- Don’t ignore a damaged or uneven subfloor. A subfloor is a structure upon which all the floors in your home are anchored. Depending on the construction of your home, the subfloor may be cement/concrete or plywood. Over time, wooden subfloors, like any wooden structure, are subject to damage. Water damage, termites, mold and dry rot can weaken a wooden structure, making it uneven and more likely to break.For many floor coverings, the subfloor must be level to within 3/16ths of an inch over a 10-foot span. Cement slabs usually are uneven, and this is something that should be corrected prior to the installation of a new hard surface floor. Installing a new floor atop a damaged or compromised subfloor doesn’t make sense. You wouldn’t put an expensive paint job on a car that doesn’t run, and the same principle applies to flooring. Unfortunately, if your subfloor is covered with carpet and padding, the condition cannot be accurately assessed until the existing flooring has been removed.
- Check moisture content. Moisture in the floor is important to consider when putting down hard surface floors. Moisture can cause swelling and warping, which is why the moisture content needs to be checked before installation commences. If the moisture content is too high, steps can be taken to correct the issue before flooring is put down.
- Read all contracts. A home improvement contract should spell out the precise work to be performed. “Paint the bedroom” is vague and could be interpreted differently by each party. “Apply two coats of Sherwin Williams paint to bedroom walls, ceilings and trim” is better, but still not detailed enough. Who is responsible for patching holes? Will primer be used? Who moves the antique wooden furniture? As a rule of thumb, if a task is not specified in the contract, it is not included in the price.Be sure you have a fully itemized and detailed contract before you make your decision. A price scribbled on the back of a business card offers you limited information and no protection if a dispute arises. The proposal you are accepting is a legally binding contract. Here are some of the items that should be included in the contract:
• Rooms the work is being performed in.
• Brand, color and quantity of the product purchased.
• What is included in the installation/labor.
• Price, including sales tax.
• Payment schedule.
• Any other details/verbal commitments made in the sales presentation.
Before you sign a contract, read it thoroughly and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Once you sign a contract, you are obligated to follow through with the signed agreement. Be careful before you make a commitment.
– Elisabeth Stubbs is one of the owners of Enhance Floors & More, one of Atlanta’s top-rated flooring dealers, located in Marietta.