General Contractor, or Professional Installer?
The same logic applies to hiring a professional, certified flooring installer to install your floor over a general contractor (GC). That’s not to suggest that some GC’s aren’t much credentialed in some areas of their trade. However, by definition, let’s not forget that a GC’s primary role is that of a generalist. This means that most of them rely on sub-contractors to carry out the more specialized work.
Reasons for hiring a professionally certified flooring installer over a generalist:
Foremost on this list is upholding your manufacturer’s product warrantee.
All reputable flooring material manufacturers require their products be installed professionally, as a condition for upholding their product warrantees.
As a homeowner, you will discover there are far more complexities involved in installing your floors than initially “meets your eye.” You want to avoid discovering these complexities through an unnecessary (and sometimes perilous journey) of trial and error, so we recommend you go with a professional installer from the get go.
Professional flooring installers are more experienced and familiar with the nuances and assortment of techniques that go into installing floors.
For example, hardwood installers understand the different wood types they’re working with and are able to properly choose from a multitude of different installation techniques – from sub-floor nail-downs, to glue-downs, to dry-lays, to floating, to hardwoods requiring special assembly for pattern consistency. Thanks in part to their knowledge and to their vast experience, these professionals will avoid cutting corners at all costs (such as rushing the wood ‘acclimation period’ in your home environment) in order to accommodate other laborers working on your home. They understand that these ‘short cuts’ will inevitably lead to future damage of your floor, and perhaps more importantly, to their personal reputation.
Professional Carpet installers also deal circumstances unique to their product. Like their brothers in hardwood, these professionals must be equally attuned to the potential damages resulting from higher levels of humidity and moisture in the home, and know what appropriate measures to take to avoid them. (Particularly when it comes to the moisture levels in basement concrete).
They too must be able to discern between the different techniques for laying your carpet. Will they recommend a ‘direct glue-down’ approach, in which case can they properly assess a sub-floor’s condition, and can they accurately ‘prepare’ it prior to installation? Perhaps you’d prefer a more cushiony feel under your feet, requiring a preliminary glue-down of a special, densified pad before adhering the carpet to it. Alternatively, your professional installer may suggest a ‘stretch-in’ technique, which would also require a pad, but not as ‘densified’ as in the earlier technique.
Wood Flooring Association website; various flooring websites