Sampling is Smart
Before you buy, bring home samples of your top flooring choices. Compare them side-by-side where they are going to be installed.
Compare for Consistency
Manufacturers try to match solid- and engineered-wood flooring for color and grain. Variations can occur from one batch to the next, so buy all the flooring you'll need at one time. Laminate floorboards within a given package often have a similar pattern. When installing, pull boards from multiple packages
Measuring Avoids Mistakes
To determine how much flooring you'll need, measure the room's square footage by multiplying its length times its width. (Divide an irregularly shaped room into smaller rectangles, calculate the square footage of each rectangle, and then add them together.) Then buy 7 to 10 percent extra to allow for mistakes, bad samples, and waste. Consider buying an extra box of flooring for future repairs or additions.
Know Your Traffic Patterns
Common high-traffic areas are entryways to rooms and to the house itself. If you have pets or kids, the family room can also be a busy place. Our top products performed best in simulated foot-traffic tests. For less-busy areas, consider one of the top-engineered wood or bamboo floors, for their natural veneer and easy installation.
Preparing to Install Flooring
Before installing wood or laminate flooring, unpack it and let it sit for one to three days in the space where it will be installed so that its temperature and moisture become acclimated to the levels in the room.
Check for Certification
Vinyl floors with the industry's FloorScore certification (pictured below) emit relatively low levels of volatile organic compounds—substances linked to health problems and pollution. For wood flooring, certification by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative offers some assurance that your flooring comes from responsibly managed forests—a plus for the planet. Check the packaging for product and manufacturer certification.
Ways to Save
Check prices with overstock discounters: They buy directly from manufacturers and often sell flooring below list price.
- You can often save on opened or damaged boxes or on flooring with minor flaws that you can install where it won't be noticed.
- Hiring a pro to do your installation? Trim hundreds of dollars off the job by doing the prep work yourself.
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Flooring Contractor Information
Installing a new floor could be tricky. If you're not sure how to handle the installation yourself, ask us!
10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Flooring
Few renovations can immediately change the look and feel of a room like new flooring. Flooring adds instant style and value. Your flooring options are endless. Our list of questions will help you assess your home’s flooring needs to narrow your choices.
Will your new and existing flooring coordinate?
Consider how the new flooring will complement your overall interior style and decorating scheme. Blending materials and creating interesting transitions may solve your design dilemmas.
Will you have to redecorate?
Color is a major consideration when buying a new floor because it impacts the entire room. Lighter flooring can make rooms feel larger but show stains and reveal wear. Darker flooring can make rooms feel cozy but show dust and pet hair. Neutral tones accommodate colorful décor easily, making it easy to change your home décor down the road.
Where is the room located?
Ground-level and basement spaces are more susceptible to moisture than those upstairs, so consider the impact on your flooring choice.
What is the traffic level in the room?
If it is an entry area or a play area for pets and kids, look for flooring that can handle wear. If the floor needs to support a wheelchair or walker, make sure the flooring material will allow easy, unobstructed movement.
Does anyone in your home have allergies?
Hard-surface flooring collects fewer allergens. Add warmth and visual interest with easy-to-clean rugs.
Do you have, or plan to install, a heated floor?
Not all flooring options are compatible with subfloor heating. Consult a flooring expert for help exploring the options best for you.
What level of floor care is required?
Ask what is involved in cleaning and upkeep and factor things like refinishing and steaming into your decision.
Can you refinish your existing floor?
You may be able to bring your floors up to date with a new stain.
Can you install the new flooring yourself?
New flooring installation is more than lining up boards and tiles. Know whether you can identify and repair a faulty subfloor. Know how to safely dispose of the old flooring and if you can return unused boxes or pieces to the store. Some flooring may require professional removal.
What is your climate?
Wood can warp and buckle and carpet can mold in humid environments. Tile makes a great alternative, is easy to clean and maintain, and comes in a variety of textures, colors, and sizes to suit your personal style.