Fitting a floor can be easy. It can also be hard. At every step of the process, from floor selection to subfloor preparation, to the cuts, to spotting defective boards, to managing challenges like skirting or kitchen units, there are decisions to be made, and actions to be taken. Make the right decisions, and you’ll get the perfect floor. Get it wrong, and you won’t.
What do we mean by a professional fitter?
Whilst there are NVQs and City and Guild Courses on floor fitting, it’s less common for fitters to have professional qualifications in the way other trades might have (..perhaps, one of the challenges we have in the sector..). Instead, fitters tend to train each other. But how do you as a consumer know if they’re any good?
Well, customer reviews are a good place to start reviewing pictures of their previous work (most fitters are very eager to share these….). If possible, try and visit one of their previous installations, and review the quality of their work. But also judge them by the type of questions they ask when surveying –
-Do they discuss the different floor fitting strategies – glue down, floated, nailed and the advantages or disadvantages of each?
-If they propose floating the floor, do they test the condition of the subfloor with a spirit level?
-Do they explain how best to flow the floor throughout the property?
-If you’re going for a patterned floor, do they recommend glueing it to the subfloor, and do they explain what subfloor preparation is required?
-Do they discuss how the floor transitions in the property will be managed – and which door bars will be used?
-Do they test for moisture in the floor, with a professional moisture metre?
-Do they have a well maintained and tidy van, with the right tools for the project?
From our experience, professional fitters fit a lot of floors and are in high demand. Our teams might fit 60 floors a year. A standard tradesman, with flooring as a side hustle, might fit for 4 or 5. This means they generally make the right calls more often. Their finish is also better.
So do you need a professional floor fitter?
At Kite, our view is sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t and it comes down to the following –
- The type of product you’re working with
Laminate click systems are easy to fit, so can often be fitted by contractors. Shorter straight planks, with tongue and grooves, can also be straightforward, but there are still basic mistakes we see when contractors fit these products. If you’re working with a premium oiled floor, or extra long planks, we would always go with a professional. The same would apply to patterned floors such as Herringbone or Chevron.
2. The level of finish you want to achieve
If the property is your forever home, and you’re buying a premium floor, then you will want the perfect finish. If you’re on a budget or are relaxed about the final finish, then you can cut corners.
3. The amount of flooring to fit
Professional floor fitters work quicker than contractors – especially when they are paid by the m2! Our prime fitting teams, on average, work twice as fast as contractors we know. If you’re on a tight timeline or want to minimise disruption to your home, this should be factored in.
4. Any technical work?
Technical work is where professional fitters come into their own. Examples of this could be stair cladding, access hatches, subfloor levelling, and removal and refitting of skirting or undercutting, such as in bay window areas.
But here’s the catch…Professional fitters will (…and should….) always be more expensive than a standard contractor.
Why is this? Well to deliver the best finish, they’ll need the latest, well-maintained tools. If they work in the residential space, projects will be small, taking three or four days rather than extended periods of guaranteed income. As they work on a self-employed basis, they will often be delayed or rescheduled; so will need to earn sufficient income to cover quiet periods. They’ll also need to cover holidays (..which very few take…), and the unexpected (…theft from vans, is one current challenge our teams face..). Supply and Demand also play a part – for technical floors like Chevron or Herringbone, like many other sectors in the country, there’s a war on talent. Finally, you can’t fit floors forever, it’s hard work on your knees… so much like professional footballers, you have a career. Just with less money. But just as much job satisfaction 🙂
Professional fitters are not right for every project. But if you’re looking for a high-quality finish on your wood floor, and want that floor to perform over many years, then we would always recommend spending a little more money to achieve this. To get in touch, and book a consultation, just use the following contact form – Book Consultation.