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HomeAdvisor's Guide to Hiring a Flooring or Carpet Contractor

Whether you are working on a new construction project or renovating an existing space, you will likely look at the floor and wonder which way to go with your project. Will you be installing hardwood or does carpeting seem like the right choice? What about ceramic tile, or maybe vinyl? The vast array of available options can be somewhat daunting. Installation methods vary greatly according to the choices you make, adding to the confusion. You may decide to leave the installation process in the hands of a skilled flooring contractor. How can you find the right person for the job?

Tips on Hiring a Flooring/Carpet Professional

There are several things to consider when searching for a good flooring contractor. Researching the following items will ensure you find a skilled pro for the job:

  • Confirm your contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured to be certain you are dealing with a reputable professional. License numbers are usually displayed on work trucks, in advertising materials, and on the company’s website.
  • Certification or accreditation with trade organizations such as the National Wood Flooring Association may indicate a high level of workmanship and professionalism.
  • If your contractor has a website, confirm the physical address and contact information for the company. You can also likely find pictures there of previous work completed.
  • Look for online reviews.

Once you have gathered this initial information, it is time to set up a home appointment.

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Questions to Ask Your Flooring Contractor

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured for general liability and worker’s comp?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Do you have pictures of previous work and/or references from previous customers?
  • Will you be obtaining any permits that are necessary to do this job or will that be my responsibility?
  • What type of warranty or guarantee do you provide for your work?
  • Do you provide a free, written estimate?
  • How long will the installation process take?
  • When will I be able to walk on the new flooring?
  • Will you teach me how to care for and maintain my floor?
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What Should Be Included in an Estimate?

Ideally, an estimate should include all costs for the job, as well as an estimate of time to complete the installation. Look for this information:

  1. Cost of your flooring material choice per square foot
  2. Cost of any additional materials needed, such as padding for carpets, adhesives for vinyl, or grout for tile
  3. Cost of labor per square foot
  4. Cost for removal of old flooring, if applicable
  5. Cost for clean up after the job is completed
  6. Total of all costs for the entire project with the specific measurements of your floor included
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What Type of Flooring Is Best For You?

You can find the perfect fit for your lifestyle and budget if you do a little research first.  Here is a list of common flooring types and some distinctive features:


Costs: $3 to $8 per square foot; $5 to $12 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Hardwood flooring is prized for its durability. With a variety of grains and finishes, hardwood can harmonize with any decorating theme. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times, allowing you to revive its beautiful look several times over the years. Additionally, hardwood floors are relatively easy to clean, sturdy, and resistant to wear and tear.
  • Cons: Hardwood is more costly than many other flooring types, and can be difficult to install. It does not dampen sound well and does not retain heat. Because moisture makes hardwood expand and contract, flooring experts recommend using hardwood only in areas with low humidity.

Hardwood is ranked according to a measure of its resistance to denting, called a “Janka” rating. The higher the Janka score, the more resistant the wood will be to denting with time and use.

Common choices in hardwoods are cherry, walnut, oak, maple, and hickory.

  • Cherry: Fine-grained and smooth-textured, cherry varies in color from reddish-brown to pinkish-white. Janka score: 950
  • Walnut: With a rich, dark brown color and a striking grain pattern, walnut is a good choice for a dramatic statement. Janka score: 1010
  • Oak: Oak is dense and hard, with colors ranging from pale wheat to a golden brown. Janka score: 1290.
  • Maple: From almost white to golden tan, maple has a straight grain and uniform texture. Janka score: 1500
  • Hickory: Considered one of the hardest of American hardwoods, hickory comes in colors ranging from blonde to dark brown. Janka score: 1820

Engineered Wood

Costs: $3 to $8 per square foot; $5 to $8 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Featuring a top veneer of real wood backed by several layers of plywood, engineered wood is resistant to moisture issues. It can be installed over any type of subfloor by nailing or gluing. Or, it can be installed as a floating floor over a cushioned pad. Also, because some engineered wood is designed with a tongue-in-groove feature, repairs can be easier than with hardwood applications.
  • Cons: Engineered wood is not as durable as hardwood. It cannot be sanded and refinished more than a few times. Additionally, the edges of engineered wood panels can fray or warp if subjected to liquid, making cleaning a bit more difficult.


Costs: $2 to $12 per square foot; $1 to $2 per square foot for padding and installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: You can choose virtually any color and texture that suits your style. It is easy to install, and vacuuming regularly extends its life considerably. With proper padding underneath, it keeps your floors warm, provides a soft place for your feet, and dampens sound.
  • Cons: Carpeting in high-traffic areas tends to show wear. Stains may be hard to clean, and deep cleaning may be costly or difficult. Those with respiratory issues or allergies might have trouble with carpet, as pet dander and debris can be trapped in carpet fibers.

Common types of carpet are wool, nylon, acrylic, polyester, and polypropylene olefin.

  • Wool: Naturally durable and resistant to stains and moisture.
  • Nylon: Strong and wear resistant.
  • Acrylic: Resists wear, mildew, and insects.
  • Polyester: Resistant to moisture, but easily stained.
  • Polypropylene olefin: Resistant to stains, moisture, and mildew. Can be used indoors/outdoors.


Costs: $1 to $7 per square foot; $2 to $5 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Laminate is stain-resistant, easy to clean, and easy to replace if it becomes damaged. It comes in a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns and can be finished to look like wood, stone, or ceramic tile.
  • Cons: Laminate cannot be refinished or sanded, and it lacks in the durability department. It scuffs fairly easily and is hard underfoot. Laminate quality varies widely, and caution must be used when choosing laminate to ensure you are getting the best quality available within your budget range.


Costs: $2 to $5 per square foot; $7 to $12 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Linoleum is made with biodegradable materials and is considered one of the most environmentally friendly flooring options. It comes in a large variety of colors and patterns, making it a versatile choice for your decorating needs.
  • Cons: Like laminate, linoleum is hard underfoot. Some types of linoleum must also be refinished every two years to help it stand up to heavy foot traffic. While it is easy to clean, once a tough stain becomes embedded in the product, there is little that can be done to get rid of it.


Costs: $3 to $8 per square foot; $7 to $12 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Because it is actually a grass, it is eco-friendly. It is considered as durable as hardwood and is easy to clean.
  • Cons: Bamboo is vulnerable to sunlight and can fade over time. It is also susceptible to water damage, making it a poor choice for bathroom applications.


Costs: $2 to $6 per square foot; $3 to $5 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Cork has a warm, natural appearance and is comfortable underfoot. If properly finished, it is fairly durable. It is eco-friendly, stain-resistant, and mildew-resistant.
  • Cons: If cork is not properly finished, it may absorb water. Cork floors need to be resealed about every two years to renew the wear layer, seal out moisture, and guard against stains. Because of this resealing schedule, cork is considered a high-maintenance flooring choice.

Ceramic Tile

Costs: Varies considerably, with some tiles costing as little as $1 per square foot and others costing as much as $100 per square foot. Trim pieces and mosaics add to the total cost of materials, and professional tile-setters charge $4 to $12 per square foot for installation, depending on the design pattern you choose.

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: With ceramic tile, you can create a custom pattern that suits your unique design style. It is easy to clean and sterilize, making it an excellent option for kitchens and bathrooms. It is stain-resistant and highly durable.
  • Cons: Ceramic tile is hard underfoot, and brittle items such as glassware or plates will likely shatter if dropped on it. The grout between the tiles can stain easily and may be difficult to clean.


Costs: $2 to $100 per square foot, depending on material chosen; $5 to $10 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: One of the most durable flooring options, stone tends to improve in appearance with age. It resists moisture and staining and provides a warm, earthy appearance.
  • Cons: Stone is difficult to install, slippery when wet, and must be resealed every four to five years.


Costs: $1 to $5 per square foot; $1 to $2 per square foot for installation

Pros & Cons:

  • Pros: Extremely economical, vinyl is also soft underfoot. It is virtually maintenance-free, tough, and durable. It resists stains and scratches, and higher quality vinyl often comes with a 15-year warranty.
  • Cons: Sharp objects can gouge vinyl, which is difficult to repair. It is also a less eco-friendly choice than some other options.
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Common Flooring Repairs

Depending on your flooring material, there are different problems which may occur. Here are a few common repair issues and their associated average costs, arranged by flooring type:

  • Hardwood: Scratches, dents, scuffs, and general wear and tear can be repaired for an average of $812. Refinishing averages $1528 nationwide. For DIY scratch and scuff repairs, repair kits average $15-$150.
  • Carpeting: Typical repairs include stain removal, burn or scorch mark repair, and rippling. Average cost is $186, with high end repairs at $516. DIY carpet repair kits range from $25-$280.
  • Ceramic Tile: Common issues include chipping, broken tiles, scratches, and grout problems. Average cost to repair is $423. DIY repair kits include such things as grout, special blades for cutting and fitting tile, and touch-up products for small chips. Prices for kits range from $25-$300.
  • Stone: Typical repairs include scratches, cracks, chips, cracks, and loose tiles. Professional repair is usually needed, and the average cost for repair is $607.
  • Vinyl and Linoleum: Common issues include cuts, abrasions, burns, and plank buckling. Average cost of repairs is $397. DIY repair kits typically cost less than $20.
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Flooring and Carpeting Terms to Know

  • Wear Layer: The protective top layer of vinyl, laminate, and engineered wood floors. Higher wear layer measurements usually mean greater durability.
  • Floating system: For engineered wood, laminate, and some linoleum, a floating floor system installation does not include adhesion to the subfloor with glue or nails.
  • Underlayment: A material used between flooring and subflooring that acts as a sound and moisture barrier and allows the flooring material to expand or contract with temperature and moisture changes.
  • Coefficient of Friction (COF): In ceramic tile, the measure of slip resistance. The higher the COF, the more slip resistant the tile is.
  • Density: The measure of how tightly yarn is stitched into a carpet’s primary backing. Higher density carpeting resists wear and is more durable than lower density carpeting.
  • Transition: The spot where two different floor coverings meet. Professional installers match surface heights to create a seamless passage from one to the other.

The Bottom Line

With some forethought and planning, you can find flooring to match both your style and your budget. Working with a professional installer saves time and effort, and leads to a beautiful floor for years to come.

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