Flooring Advice

FLOORING ADVICE FROM THE PROFESSIONALS!

Things to remember when purchasing your new floor:

Unfortunately some flooring companies have earned a bad reputation. Like most businesses the overwhelming majority fail in the first few years. It’s actually a very difficult business. Quality installation is the key. With most consumers’ primary focus being low price, retailers seek out the cheapest labor they can find. This is a horrible mistake. Installers believe because they can install floors they can run a company. The majority of these fail immediately but not before leaving unhappy customers with no place to turn. We can actually name “companies” that move from town to town like locusts. As soon as the complaints get to be too much they move on. Empire Carpets doesn’t even have a store here in Birmingham. They did have. It was hidden in an industrial complex in Leeds before they closed it. Google Empire unhappy customers – prepare to read for a very long time. Home Stores have people believing they have the lowest prices. This is simply untrue. People already understand that their service is inadequate. They are Jacks of all trades – masters of none. We are a specialty store. This is all we do. We guarantee we will beat them every time on the same product and do it with a MUCH higher level of professionalism all the way through the process.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • Check the retailer’s location. If they do not have a store you can drive up to, how will you track them down if there is a problem?
  • Check the number of years in business. If it’s less than five the odds are not that good they will survive. In the last 21 years we have seen many fold leaving customers (good people) with no recourse.
  • Check their Insurance papers. Don’t be shy. If they don’t have CURRENT Workman’s Comp and adequate liability their installers can sue YOU if they are hurt on your property.
  • Little Jimmy may have installed Hardwood one summer but that hardly qualifies him to install thousands of dollars’ worth of hardwood in your largest investment. We have seen this countless times. Then the distraught people ask us if we can fix it. It’s like a car with a bad paint job. It simply has to be re done.
  • Don’t spend thousands on a new floor with a less than credible source just hoping it goes well. Choose a reputable retailer with the experience to rely on. You’ll be glad you did.
  • When shopping around for your flooring, make sure to compare the installed complete price, and not just the price of the material. There are A LOT of areas to hide additional costs. Even if you purchase the highest quality of material available, if it is not installed correctly, it will not perform.

CARPET

  • Mohawk is a publically held company. Shaw is owned by Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. No offense to these Goliath’s but your satisfaction is not their primary concern. Pick a carpet retailer with enough clout to stand up to these two on your behalf.
  • Carpet is a Textile product. It is made of many different types of fibers each with their own pro’s and con’s. Plastic’s – Olefin and Polyester are the cheapest and least durable but they do clean really well and in low traffic scenarios they may be all you need. Nylon’s are the best synthetic fibers and the 6.6 Nylon is the very best. This fiber is the best choice for all High Traffic areas. This fiber is produced by only two sources. The first is called Ascend (Ascendmaterials.com) click carpet fibers. The second is Stainmaster.com. Both of these websites can supply you with a lot of valuable insight into the advantages of 6.6 nylon. The Stainmaster website is one of the best in the entire industry. Recently Stainmaster has sold out by applying its brand name to any product they could think of and believe it or not – Polyester. We believe their Polyester is no better than any other Poly it’s just more expensive. Visit our store and ask for Carpet 101.
  • Everyone wants Super Soft carpet. Typically it will not last as long as more substantial resilient strong fibers. It just makes sense – soft is not as strong as harder carpets. Manufactures are more than happy to give you super soft carpet. The shorter the life expectancy of the carpet – the sooner you will need to buy more.
  • When selecting a color for your floor, remember that a bigger area will reflect more light, making the color seem a shade lighter than reflected in the smaller sample. This is more pronounced with the lighter colors.
  • If trying to decide between a patterned carpet and a carpet without a pattern, remember that additional cost will usually accompany a patterned carpet, due to extra material having to be ordered to match the pattern repeat, as well as the installers having to match up the pattern repeat while installing. Plus the pattern carpets cost more to manufacture and the mills place a premium on them.
  • If carpeting more than one room, using the same carpet will enable you to use extra carpet from one room in the other, saving you money.
  • Remember that carpet, like all dyed materials, have dye lots, resulting in slight shade variations from the sample you may have chosen.
  • If you have pets or children, consider going with a Stainmaster Pet Protect Nylon carpet in high traffic areas or a nonporous Polyester in low traffic areas and upgrading to a pad with a moisture barrier that will repel liquid and make you carpet last and look better longer.
  • If carpeting stairs, make sure to use a 6.6 nylon. It will hold up longer than a regular nylon, or a polyester.
  • Carpet comes in 12 & 15 foot widths, so ask for leftovers after your installation, and consider having it bound, and using it as a rug in another room.
  • Typical installation warranties are the same as a million dollar home – One Year. Anything more than this is likely a gimmick with hidden verbiage to allow the retailer an out. Remember it is a Textile product. It shrinks and expands and is influenced by humidity, temperature, external forces such as moving furniture etc. Also you must have your carpet professionally cleaned. Home cleaning do it yourself machines cause a lot of re-stretches and can permanently damage your carpet.

HARDWOOD

  • Hardwoods come in several different types of construction for various applications. Sand & Finish hardwoods are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Due to the continued decline in the level of quality of workmanship available in this field grossly inferior products are being installed in Birmingham. Most of the country no longer uses this process because it is now cheaper to buy prefinished hardwoods than site finished hardwoods. It’s much less messy and the finishes are up to SEVEN TIMES harder. The prefinished use extremely hard chemicals that are not allowed to be applied in someone’s home. They are cured under ultra violet heat lamps giving them a much harder finish than air drying.
  • Solid hardwoods are usually ¾” thick by varying widths. Solid hardwoods should be used above grade only (without extensive additional prep) and should be nailed down to Plywood or OSB only. Never allow anyone to nail solid hardwood to particle board subfloors. It expands and contracts and it will work loose at the nails and you will have a squeaky horrible mess (eventually). Solid hardwoods are very moisture sensitive and they wider they are the more they will react. In extreme cases they will cup or curl up at the ends.
  • Engineered hardwoods are cross grained much like plywood. They can be used above or below grade on Plywood, OSB board, Particle board or concrete. Engineered hardwood is “real hardwood”. Some of the highest end wood floors in America are engineered. Most of the New York Penthouses and Miami mansions utilize this type product. It is inherently more stable than and just as beautiful as solid hardwood. Glue down or staple down is superior to click and float. A lot of appraisers view the click and float as laminate for valuation purposes. Not to mention over time some of the locking systems have been proven to fail leaving you with unsightly gaps at the joints with no way to fix them.
  • Your best bet is to stick with Brand name hardwoods. Bruce and Armstrong may have Chinese products in their assortment but you can bet they have people over there monitoring the production and they even own some Chinese plants. Other imported Chinese hardwoods can be total trash. Lumber Liquidators has been sued repeatedly for allegedly deceiving their customers with the help of their Chinese partners. Google Lumber Liquidators unhappy customers and prepare to read a while.
  • Before you leave your house to shop for hardwood, find out what kind of subfloor you have. You can check this by lifting up a floor vent and seeing what is underneath your current floor. The type of subfloor you have will impact whether you need to look at solid, or engineered hardwood, and if it should be stapled, glued, or nailed. Plywood most people recognize. OSB board is basically chunks of wood pressed together and glued. Particle board is basically saw dust and glue.

GENERAL

  • Things to remember when purchasing your new floor Read the fine print of the product’s warranty, especially the exclusions, and whether or not it is prorated.
  • Clean and maintain your products in accordance to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Do not grab cleaners at the discount stores without checking with the manufacturer’s website. You can actually set stains in and permanently ruin your flooring. An example would be hardwood cleaners designed to “restore luster”. We have had countless customers come to us after using these type products with film on their floor they cannot remove. Always refer to the manufacturer.

It’s a complicated world. We only do floors. We do them very well. We have survived by providing our customers with real value. Quality products and quality installation backed up with service after the sale. We appreciate our customers very much and they can tell it.