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Professional Installations versus Installing the hardwood floor yourself

Updated on March 16, 2010

>When I installed my first floor, I looked at all the pro’s and con’s of either having a professional contractor lay the wood floors or install them myself.  First of all, understand that it is a bigger job than you think.  There is a lot that could go wrong before the floor installation occurs.  Simple things like moisture conditions and the subfloor can render a first time floor install absolutely helpless and making the phone call to their contractor buddy with a whole list of questions.

The good news is that if you are planning a do-it-yourself hardwood floor install, all it takes is a general knowledge of the tools you will be working with and an eye for detail.  Any things that go wrong are fixable although chances are you will need to allocate more wood for waste than a professional installer.

The Case for Installing the Floor Yourself

The #1 reason why people choose to install their own hardwood floors is price.  The floors themselves can cost upwards of $10 per square foot depending on the species of the wood.  You can plan to add another $4 per square foot to that if you are having a pro do it for you.  And while that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider this;  a 2,000 square foot house would cost $6,000 in labor alone, never mind trim, molding, underlayment, glue (if you are using glue) or nails, carpet removal (if you have carpet), possible subfloor leveling as well as waste.  All this said, a 2,000 square foot house could cost somewhere in the ballpark of $20,000 after everything is said and done.

If you are doing it yourself, then you can take $6,000 in labor off the top.  That, in and of itself, is the reason why most in the very least consider installing a hardwood floor themself.

Some do-it-yourself installations also comes with that “manly” I did it accomplishment.  Many guys like to feel like they built something themself and there is something to be said for the feeling you get after you finish the installation.

Other than price and the satisfaction of accomplishment, there is really not another driving force behind installing a hardwood floor.  How do I install a hardwood floor myself?

The case for having a professional install your hardwood floor

Now, if price isn’t an issue, the advantage of hiring a professional flooring contractor is many.  First of all, there is the time issue.  Installing a hardwood floor yourself could take a day to complete.  Then again, it could take weeks depending on the inevitable problems that arise as well as the amount of manpower you have at your disposal.

In contrast, a professional install will usually take less than a day or two to complete.  This is including pre-floor preparations as well as the installation of the hardwood and cleanup.

Another advantage to hiring someone to do it for you, is that most flooring companies will guarantee their installation for up to a year.  This could be piece of mind in the case that your wood floor buckles or there are loose planks in the room.  If you install a wood floor yourself, you can only point the blame at yourself if something goes wrong.

Both cases have their advantages.  If you don’t mind putting a lot of love into an installation that will likely be for decades, then a do-it-yourself hardwood installation would likely be your best bet.  However, the downside is that it will take time and prepping a large project can be very tedious.

Having a professional install your floors will cost more, sure, but in the end you will have your flooring done more quickly, usually within a couple days and the work will likely be guaranteed which is a huge deal if something happens within a year.


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