Across the internet, there are millions of articles and videos offering up DIY tips on how to install wood floors. NWFA members know all too often how that story ends.
Peter West, President of West Flooring & Design in Calverton, New York, says his team sees homeowners attempting to take on sand and finish projects. “Recently, we received a call from someone who wanted us to take a look at why their finish had yellowed. The homeowner had painted the floor white and then coated with a waterborne poly on the top. The poly reacted poorly with the paint and turned yellow,” said West.
“And, when there is a DIY install, the typical errors are installing solid wood flooring tight to the wall plates and not properly acclimating the material. They install in June without acclimation and by the middle of September, the floor has buckled and they’ll call us to ask if we can fix it. It can mean we have to rip out the base or the whole floor and then the homeowner has to buy the flooring again and go through the entire process times two.”
According to a survey done by ImproveNet, Americans ranked refinishing a hardwood floor and installing a hardwood floor in the top 10 “most regretted” DIY home improvement projects. More than 50 percent took on the work themselves to save money, but stated that the projects ended up taking longer than expected and being physically harder than expected. The results also found that people spend an average of six hours researching “how to” and more than half of respondents used YouTube or a home improvement website for guidance.
Porch recently surveyed more than 1,000 people about their experiences with home improvements ranging from flooring installation to electrical wiring to painting. The research showed that mistakes made during a DIY flooring installation added an average of nearly 14 hours to the project; that’s more working hours than any of the other kinds of projects. Time is money, and on average, those mistakes also cost DIYers more than $800 to fix the floor.
And it’s not just homeowners either.
“A contractor said he needed help with the top coat on a few spots on the floor. When I got there, what I saw was scary. The original finish was still there in places, there were drum and edger marks everywhere, and there was so much debris in the coating that it looked like a popcorn ceiling on the floor,” said Jared Fitzgerald, owner of Southern Oaks Flooring in Nashville.
“The contractor had been doing some painting and sheetrock work at the customer’s house and despite not being trained on wood floors, he took on a complete sand and refinish. It’s a lot cheaper to hire the right person the first time than to have to fix it later on.”
Fitzgerald notes that having NWFA certification for himself and his employees puts his customers at ease.
“Whether the floors need a recoat, a complete sand and refinish, or a total new installation, it’s best for homeowners to use a professional who has the knowledge and skills to do the job right,” said Brett Miller, VP of Education and Certification for NWFA. “Installing wood floors is a lot more complicated than painting walls or replacing the hardware on cabinets. In the long run, homeowners will likely save time and money by using a professional instead of taking a DIY approach.”
Showing consumers why it’s important to use a professional to install or do work on their wood flooring is one of the goals of the NWFA’s “Real Wood. Real Life.” campaign. Resources are available to help members tell that story, including the Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors, digital ads, trade and home show signage, social media posts, key messages, and FAQs. All of these materials are part of the campaign’s marketing toolkit and may be downloaded for free by visiting nwfa.org/consumer-outreach.aspx.
Information about using a pro is directly available to consumers on WoodFloors.Org, including a search feature to help them find an NWFA professional in their area. Installers, sand and finishers, retailers, and inspectors can all be found there.
The “Real Wood. Real Life.” campaign materials and WoodFloors.Org also share guidance for homeowners on how to choose the right wood floor and conduct maintenance properly, while going into detail about the characteristics and benefits of real wood floors. The NWFA is asking its members to continue spreading the word about the benefits of real wood. Following are some examples of the different ways the marketing toolkit materials have been used.
Stickers with the “Real Wood. Real Life.” logo are now available in the NWFA store for purchase and may be used on real wood products, samples, and packaging. Please contact the NWFA with questions about how you can get involved or send us the ways you have utilized items from the marketing toolkit.
The NWFA recognizes the following partners for sponsoring the consumer campaign:
Libby White Johnston is Director, Media and Advertising, for the NWFA. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 337.794.9232.