When it comes to saving money, knowing what to do what it comes to your flooring project can help you save hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars.
Often, this type of work happens as part of a larger remodel, typically at the end of the renovation or project...when you are out of time, money and patience.
That said, this is not the time to lose your resolve.
Let’s jump in and talk through ways to save...
Step 1: Between hardwood, laminate, and carpet ‒ what’s the right floor for you?
While this is a big (and often overwhelming) question, there are things that you can do to help yourself.
Research what's available
First things first, here are three things you need to know right off the bat:
- where the new floor is going ‒ basement, main level, or other
- what exists there now (if anything) ‒ your current flooring
- what it may be exposed to ‒ think of water, moisture, high traffic, hard objects, etc.
Find out what they have and what might be appropriate for your particular application.
I’d also call your local store (more on that to follow) to see what brands they carry, and look at those online as well for more in depth understanding.
Pro tip: Where possible, read the technical data that accompanies the flooring spec. Understanding the durability of the product and weighing that versus your budget is also very important ‒ even more so if you have kids, have animals or are planning to sell in the next few years.
Think through your budget
Once you’ve measured your room (square feet is the general calculation), think through how much you want to spend.
If you’re not sure what’s reasonable, it may be helpful to consult with a realtor…
The last thing you want to do is put beautiful hand-scraped wood that costs $15 per square foot in a house where you’ll never recover that investment.
Here are some things to consider:
- What is the square footage of your floor?
- What is down on the floor now? Do you have an existing floor? With many existing floors, some products can go down right over the top.
- What will you use for underlay? This is required for laminate, wood and carpet products. Talk to your salesperson to understand the varying levels of quality that they have. There’s nothing worse than spending lots on flooring and putting a cheap underlay, as it betrays your investment.
- Is this something that you can install yourself? Here, you’ll want to balance frugality and reality: are you handy? Do you have a friend that is much handier than you? Or, do you need to call in a professional? Each strategy will impact your budget.
Pro tip: Even if you are handy, get carpet and vinyl/similar sheet goods installed by a professional. This could save you time, money (mistakes can be costly), and emotional energy.
Step 2: Online or local ‒ where to go shopping?
So, it’s time to go shopping ‒ just go to quickcheapfloors.com, right?
Not so fast, champ.
Go to a local flooring store
Depending on where you live, this may be a big-box retailer, a small chain, or a large flooring chain. Any way you slice it, having the ability to easily return product, get product installation advice (if you’re doing it yourself), and being able to see the product before you buy (bring samples home ‒ look at it in your light!) ‒ are all things that can help save you money.
If you’re not sure where to go, ask around from friends or get a recommendation on social media: people are always willing to give an opinion there, right?
Find the right salesperson…
And tell them exactly what you need.
In my time that I spent as a salesperson in flooring, I saw many forms of salesperson come and go. Much like any encounter, you want to get someone that you can trust.
If you get a bad feeling, don’t be afraid to shop around and evaluate other options. If they’re into high-pressure sales, walk out of there ‒ it’s not the place for you.
Having done all your research as noted above, you’ve got a good idea of what you want. Tell the information you know to your salesperson and ask them for their selection.
Focus on In-stock items
The best question you can ask to help you save money is this:
What items do you have in stock?
And then add in…
Do you have lots?
Often, in-stock items will be 20-25% the retail cost as if you order it on special order.
If a retailer has brought in 20 pallets of laminate, you can bet they got a good price on it ‒ which means a good price for YOU.
If they bought a container? Even better!
Also, ask how long they’ve had the product.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, and sometimes a salesperson can be desperate to get rid of a product. I once sold 600 square feet of a shiny, ugly (my opinion) tile that we had gotten a great deal on, and I got the customer a great deal too.
We had the tile for a long time, and rather than selling at $2.99/sq.ft. (full retail), I sold it at $1.89/sq.ft. with cost being only $0.30 less because we wanted it gone.
To recap, here are 3 questions you should ask your salesperson:
- What do you have in stock?
- How much do you have?
- How long has it been here?
My experience on retail price margins
Keep in mind this is a general guide, because in practice prices will range from retailer to retailer. Higher-volume stores will have better wholesale price (and as a result, better retail price).
|Hardwood floor||Actual cost + 20-40%||Actual cost + Freight + 20-40%|
|Laminate floor||Actual cost + 30-60%||Actual cost + Freight + 40%+|
|Vinyl/Sheet goods||Actual cost + 15-100%||Actual cost + Freight + 40%+|
|Carpet||Actual cost + 20-60%||Actual cost + Freight + 35-400%+|
|Tile (varies between ceramic/porcelain & natural stone)||Actual cost + 20-100%||Actual cost + Freight + 30-300%|
Step 3: Get multiple quotes and zero in on the right product.
In this step, you’re going to want to go to multiple stores and ask the 3 questions above each time.
If you see something you like, get samples, as you’ll want to see the products in your home, in your own lighting, at various times of the day.
Get an initial quote and ask: "What could you do for me on this?"
On this quote, you’ll want to have the following included:
- The product ‒ ensure it allows for appropriate waste: wood/laminate approximately 10%, carpet/vinyl requires enough for pattern match, on tile approximately 10%
- The underlay ‒ which you'll need for carpet, wood, and laminate
- Any matching transitions ‒ your salesperson can advise you on this
- Installation ‒ unless you plan to DIY
Only after examining all the viable products, you can decide on the right product for you.
Pro-tip: Remember that there’s always margin built into the products and services (even installation at times). So when you go back to purchase, haggle until you feel you’re getting the deal you want.
Do you have any floor buying stories?
Any specific types of flooring that you’d like discussed for strategies to save?
Let us know in the comments below.