It is unwise to pay too much, but it is far worse to pay too little.
When you pay too much you lose a little money – that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything,
because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done.
If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run.
And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.
It is fair to say that everyone wants to save money, myself included. But when it comes to receiving quality there is in all reality a cost associated with it, there is no such thing as something for nothing.
Everyday I will receive at least 10 phone calls from around the Country asking for advice on how to handle a bad situation with regards to a flooring installation, everything from shoddy workmanship or not getting what they paid for (substituting materials for a lessor quality than what was promised) terrible sanding and polishing jobs and the list goes on. This is a constant cause of frustration for us, because most of these types of call could have simply been avoided, if they had used a professional company to do the work from the beginning.
Flooring installation is a trade in its own right, being a carpenter does not mean you are a flooring installer, it is a skill that is learnt over many years and like any trade there are those who are better than others. Floor sanding and polishing is also a trade in it own right that takes many years to become skilled at. Simply purchasing a van and some tools or floor sanding equipment does not make someone a floor layer or sander and polisher. I have been in this trade for some 30 years and I still learn regularly. There are always new products coming into the market, which we must take the time to trial and evaluate before using them on a job. For example there would be at least 15 different types of glue that have come onto the market in the last 10 years, we have trialled all of them and the clear winner to date is Bostik Ultraset, it is expensive but it does the job it is designed to do, so we use it exclusively and use it correctly in the right quantities. I have seen instances where the layer has used completely the wrong glue which brings its own set of issues, to floors where no glue has been used at all, all in the name of saving money. FYI the cost difference between using the right glue and no glue is roughly $13m2.
The purpose of this article is not to rant, rather to point out the differences between what we do as standard (the correct way) and what is happening. Far to often when the wrong people are engaged to do the work, it is my hope this will help you, the consumer choose an excellent company, and if not ours, a good one that will give you the right outcome and something you can be proud of for many years to come.
The prompt for this article came about a few days ago when I recieved a call from a customer who had purchased some flooring from us, but by his own admission had decided to have someone else install it because he could save $10m2 which equated to $1070 for a 107m2 install.
The gentleman said there were problems with the timber, that it wasn’t going together properly, and that they weren’t all dead straight and that some of the timbers were different sizes. I assured him that all of the timber is fine as we sell thousands of meters of this exact timber and that our installers are laying the exact same batch of flooring on several jobs with absolutely no issues. As for the statement that not all the boards are dead straight, the fact is they never are, it is up to a competent installer to lay them straight. My immediate suspicion was that the installer on this job was incompetent and didn’t have the necessary skills or experience to be laying this floor. I politely asked the gentleman to please take a closer look at the flooring himself and at the workmanship that was being carried out, at which point he said he didn’t know what he was looking at and would it be possible for me to come and have a look, which is what I did, and this is what I found.
To my complete astonishment not only had the installer not sanded the particleboard but there were clumps of plaster stuck to it that weren’t being removed, he was at best running a broom over the floor and laying the flooring over the top of it.
This is what should have happened:
SOLID TIMBER FLOORING OVER PARTICLEBOARD
The first part of the process is to completely sand the particleboard. We do this for the following reasons:
– To remove any ridges in the floor where the sheets meet.
– To remove the wax coating, existing dirt, plaster dust or contaminants.
– To create a good surface for the glue to adhere to.
This first step is essential in providing a quality installation. If it is overlooked or skipped because the contractor is not equipped or is taking a short cut, it will be to the detriment of your floor, and you may end up with an uneven floor or one with ridges in it. Additionally, glue will not bond correctly if it is only adhering to dust and wax.
The next thing that was blatantly obvious was the large gaps between all the boards, and not only in between but on the ends joints as well.
I carefully measured all of the floorboards that had been laid as well the ones that hadn’t yet been put down and they were exactly to size.
I then dry fitted about 30 floorboards together and they went together perfectly.
The issue here had nothing to do with the timber and everything to do with the installer.
When I approached the installer and asked him how long he had been installing floors? his reply was “20 years”. My initial reaction was, my god so you have been ruining floors for 20 years.
Upon further investigation I noticed that all of his power tools were quite new, his clothes, although new, were covered in glue and he had glue all over his hands and half way up his arms, all of which suggests to me, he hadn’t been laying floors for very long.
The image on the left shows the result of not pulling in properly one board. The result is the subsequent boards that follow also do not pull in properly and exaggerate the problem, in addition to this he hasn’t pushed the ends of the boards together, creating a gap in the floor.
The image to the right demonstrates a lack of attention to detail having three end joins lining up across a few boards. These should have been staggered to give an aesthetically pleasing look to the floor when finished. Once again if you look closely you can see the ends of the boards haven’t been butted together properly.
In the image on the left you can see a gum pocket that when filled correctly looks amazing, and is one of the best features of the floor. Unfortunately the guy who was laying this floor thought it would be a good idea to fill it with glue, which causes two massive issues. Firstly you can not sand and coat the glue, and even if you could it would look disgusting. Secondly now that beautiful gum pocket has been filled with glue, that board will have to be cut out and replaced to be able to fill it properly. All this from a guy who told the owner and myself he had 20 years experience in the trade.
In the photo on the right, you see a gum pocket filled the way we do it. We fill the pocket with a clear epoxy resin and once sanded and polished, shows all of the gorgeous character contained within. The floor is flat and as natural as its creator made it. FYI we use the epoxy on every floor as standard and is included in the price. If you want other companies to do this they will normally charge an additional $10m2 on average.
In conclusion, after returning to our showroom I contacted the customer and detailed all of the issues he had on site, none of which were anything to do with the timber and everything to do with the installer. Needless to say, when he was very displeased with the installer and quickly dismissed him, but now he had the problem of trying to remove the badly installed boards, which is incredibly difficult as they had been glued and nailed. Once the boards have been pulled up they are not reusable. He then had to purchase new timber and find someone competent to install them. He desperately wanted us to install them this time but as we were booked solid for the next 10 weeks it wasn’t possible for us to do it. This project has now cost him and estimated $7000 more than what it should have, for the sake of $10m2. The job could have been done professionally the first time and on time. Please don’t make the same mistake this gentleman did, do your homework and engage the best, you will be glad you did. Believe me when I say I hear these stories every day. Installing a timber floor is an investment in your property and the future value of your property, done correctly it will bring you much enjoyment and add a great deal of value to your home.