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So you’ve made the decision to install new flooring – how exciting! But now you have two jobs to do: find the floors you want and find the right person to install them. And that’s where many homeowners get confused.

Anyone who has ever hired a flooring contractor knows that estimates can vary quite a bit from one guy to the next. But do you know why? Here are the four main reasons why flooring estimates vary so much among contractors.

#1 The Quality and Cost of the Materials

The cost of the actual flooring is usually the most significant part of the estimate. So when you’re comparing quotes, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

If a contractor quotes you a price for hardwood floors, it’s important to know exactly what type of wood and finish that price is for. For example, there’s no point in comparing estimates if one is for natural white oak and one is for laminate planks that look like white oak.

Not an expert on the various types of flooring out there? Don’t worry – a good contractor won’t expect you to be. They will explain the different options to you, let you know what type of material is best for your home, and give you a variety of options to choose from. Finding a contractor who will walk you through the process is a good indication that you’re dealing with someone experienced, professional, and reputable.

#2 The Amount of Work the Installer Plans to Do

Installing a new floor is a lot more complicated than you may think. There are several steps that go into the process, many of which you might not even be aware of.

For starters, furniture and appliances need to be removed. Existing floors may need to be taken out. Subfloors and underlayments (such as moisture barriers) need to be properly installed to support your new floor. And once the new flooring is in place, trims and transitions must be painted and installed.

When you receive an estimate, ask what is included. The best contractors will account for all aspects of the job, including everything listed above. If you receive a very low quote, it could be that the estimate does not include one or more of the pre-installation steps or finishing touches.

#3 The Level of Difficulty for Installation

Your home itself could be the reason for varying quotes. The level of difficulty and the amount of work required to give you the new floors you want is part of your total estimate. The contractors with higher price quotes usually take potential problems into consideration based on their experience of doing other similar jobs.

Look for contractors who have experience working on homes in your specific neighborhood. Some installers may only have experience working in newer homes, while others may have more expertise with older homes. This can make a big difference in the price quote as well as in the quality of work you’ll receive.

#4 The Contractor’s Level of Expertise

A really low quote means one of two things – the contractor doesn’t have that much experience or doesn’t have any other work to do. When it comes time to have your floors installed, it’s important that you choose someone with lots of experience and a superior level of expertise. Before you decide who to hire, ask for referrals, read online reviews, and check their rating with the Better Business Bureau. If you see negative reviews or poor feedback, walk away.

The bottom line is this – you get what you pay for. Compare your estimates thoroughly. Make sure you know exactly what flooring materials you’re paying for. Confirm that the quote includes all stages of the job – including preparatory steps and finishing touches. Choosing the guy with the cheapest price can actually cost you money in the long run. Choosing a higher priced contractor that really knows what they’re doing is always