Quality Control Made Simple: Tips for a Quality Floor Installation
Quality management is one of the most important things any hardwood flooring professional can do.
Without a quality assurance process, you risk making mistakes or missing steps that could’ve prevented a costly flooring failure. And frustrated customers.
But quality management confirms the integrity of your floors—and builds your reputation as a trustworthy business!
We’ll break it down as follows:
- Why quality control matters
- What steps are involved in quality control
- Tips for a quality assurance plan
- Quality control resources
Let’s get started!
Why is quality control important?
Quality control is the process by which workmanship is evaluated for its performance. Floor installers pay close attention to quality control so they can create a sturdy, beautiful, blemish-free floor.
As a result, they build their reputations as reliable businesses.
Flooring installers perform quality control by:
- Following quality control procedures as they work
- Evaluating their work after they’ve finished
Keep reading to find out what procedures you should follow for your business.
What steps are involved in quality control?
The quality control process of floor installation can be broken into five simple steps:
- Prepare for installation
- Inspect the floorboards
- Evaluate wood moisture content
- Follow floor installation procedures
- Inspect the installation job
1. Prepare for installation
The first part of ensuring a quality installation involves preparing the room for a new floor.
Clients may take care of many of these steps, like removing furniture or adjusting the room temperature. But in the end, it’s up to flooring installers to double-check that the room is ready before the boards are installed.
- The floor space is free of any furniture or breakable objects1
- The old floor has been removed
- The subfloor is flat and stable
- The room’s temperature is suitable for the floorboards2
Checking for uneven subfloors or inconsistent room temperatures is especially important to avoid any issues. Once these conditions have been met, installers should proceed by inspecting the floorboards themselves.
2. Inspect the floorboards
Though clients are usually responsible for selecting the kind of floorboards they want to use, flooring installers are expected to ensure the quality of the boards before installing them.
First and foremost, verify that the boards you’ve received are, in fact, the boards the client wants to use.
After that, it’s up to you to verify the boards are:
- The proper dimensions
- The proper colors
- Straight, stable, and sturdy
- Free of any defects (like cupping, splitting, or warping)
- Properly coated (finishes and stains)
Although flooring manufacturers are responsible for any mistakes made in the manufacturing process, installers are liable for installing defective floorboards. For this reason, check the boards are blemish-free before installing them.
Fortunately, these defects can be seen at a glance, which makes it easy to tell the good boards apart from the bad.
However, the inspection doesn’t stop there. You also have to account for wood moisture content.
3. Evaluate wood moisture content
Upon receiving the floorboards, test their moisture content (MC) to determine whether they’ve acclimated or not.
Acclimation refers to the process by which a piece of wood responds to the MC of its environment and equilibrates to the same. Wood will absorb moisture in a wet environment and lose moisture in a dry environment.
The acclimation process can cause wood to shrink or swell—so flooring installers must be careful not to install floorboards before they’ve fully acclimated lest the boards spread apart, crack, or buckle.
If the MC of the floorboards matches the EMC, you’ll know they’ve acclimated fully.
Also, make a point to check the MC of the subfloor (it should be within 2–4% of the floor) and identify any sources of water intrusion to minimize potential water damage.
Then, it’s time for installation.
4. Follow floor installation procedures
The installation process will vary depending on the flooring you use.
But whether you’re installing solid strip flooring or plank flooring, here are some best practices:
- Check the job site is dry and free of water intrusion
- Have an HVAC system maintaining a suitable temperature and humidity
- Check the boards have acclimated to their environment3
- Verify the underlayment and subfloor are clean, dry, and level (whether it’s a wood subfloor or concrete subfloor)
- Use expansion gaps4
- Use the right fasteners
- Protect the floorboards from damage during installation
- Follow manufacturer instructions to maintain the floor warranty
- Conform to all building codes
5. Inspect the installation job
After the installation, double-check the floor and make sure it meets industry standards and adheres to safety regulations. The boards should fit together without any gaps.
Post-installation, homeowners are responsible for maintaining the quality of their floors. This generally includes:
- Keeping their floors from getting wet
- Keeping their floors from getting scuffed, scratched, or dented
- Cleaning and repairing their floors as necessary
The amazing thing about wood floors is that they can last for a long time—even up to 80 years!5
That’s why it’s so essential to install the floor right the first time. Let’s look at some tips for making a quality assurance plan to help you do just that.
Tips for a quality assurance plan
Flooring professionals create quality assurance plans to outline how their businesses perform quality control.
Here are some tips to follow if you’re looking to make your own:
- Create a list of specific quality control procedures you expect employees to perform6
- Train your employees to follow these standards7
- Inspect flooring products or installation jobs to ensure they’re up to standard
- Check the production or installation process8
- Include a list of company standards your business will uphold9
- Make a flooring inspection checklist
- Look at examples of other quality assurance plans for reference
- Keep industry standards in mind as you’re creating your plan
Now that you’ve got an idea of what a quality assurance plan should look like, how do you go about putting these procedures on paper?
The answer is simple!
You can base your plan off of quality control templates to get an idea of how your plan should look.
Or, you can even purchase ready-made plans to personalize for your visit.
Next, let’s talk about some resources you’re going to need to put your plan in action.
Quality control resources
Wanting to integrate quality control into your regular workflow? Here are the tools and training you need to get started.
Quality control requires a lot of measuring. This is because flooring professionals must ensure each floorboard is consistent in shape, size, and quality.
For this reason, wood flooring installers need the following business:
- A moisture meter: As we’ve already mentioned, moisture testing shows you how much your wood needs to stabilize before it meets the EMC. You can use the meter for solid wood floors, engineered wood flooring, the substrate under ceramic tile flooring, and the substrate under laminate flooring.
- Caliper: Measure the dimensions of your wood to ensure it’s the right size and shape.
- Measuring tape: Measure the length and width of your wood to ensure your wood is the right size.
- Combination square: Measure the angles of the wood.
Now that you know what tools you need in your toolbox, let’s talk about the standards you’ll want to pay attention to.
Quality control standards and training
Industry standards provide guidelines to avoid situations that cause:
- Poor floor quality
- Floor damage
- Safety hazards
- Legal consequences
So where exactly do we find these industry standards? Many of them come from organizations like:
- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)
- The American Wood Protection Association (AWPA)
- The American Wood Council ( AWC)
- ASTM International
Following these standards will help your business run smoothly. And it’ll also give your business greater credibility.
This is especially true if you’ve received training from organizations like the NWFA because certifications like that can allow you to provide accredited installation services. It’s also helpful to recommend certified flooring material to your clients.
In the end, following quality control procedures can help flooring professionals produce high-quality floors on a consistent basis.
Quality Assurance Checklist:
1) Prepare for installation
2) Inspect the floorboards
3) Evaluate wood moisture content
4) Follow floor installation procedures
5) Inspect the installation job
- “Prepare for my Flooring Install,” Carpet One Floor & Home. (↑)
- Ibid. (↑)
- “5 Things to Do When Installing Hardwood Floors,” RW Supply and Design. (↑)
- Ibid. (↑)
- “It Might Be Time to Replace Your Flooring — Here Are the Signs to Look Out For,” Vevano. (↑)
- Muscad, Ossian, “Guide To Quality Control Plan Templates: How to Make Them and Why You Need One,” Datamyte. (↑)
- Ibid. (↑)
- Ibid. (↑)
- Ibid. (↑)