Beginner's Guide to Floor Samples
We want Floors To Your Home to be easy to shop with. That’s one of the reasons we keep our flooring in stock, rather than ordering it from someone else after you make your choice with us. Floor shopping is hard for most people! We don’t do it all that frequently, so few of us are very confident, let alone experts at the process. This is why I think one of the best things you can do is get samples of the flooring you’re looking into. It’s a good idea if you are shopping in a store, and an even better one if you’re doing it online. Computer screens vary in brightness, color and contrast, and photographers vary in skill levels. Your rooms may look as elegant as the magazine quality room scenes offered online, but those still aren’t your immaculate rooms.I don’t want to be a buzz-kill on the shopping process, because I know how exciting it is to press the Add To Cart button when I’m finally ready to shell out for the new blu-ray of Casablanca, but you really should give yourself the chance to see what your selections look like right in your home. Remember that you also want to be genuinely excited when the flooring itself arrives, and even more once it’s in place.
Now it might do more harm than good to order 25 samples, so do some advance selection, but once you’re down to a few options you really want to take a good look at, get yourself some samples, more than one if necessary. Then here’s what you do.
Give yourself many views
Look at your samples from different angles. Hold them up next to the furnishings in your room and see how well they match. Look at them in direct sunlight. Close the curtains to simulate a cloudy day. Look at them at night, when your lights are your source of… uh - you know, light. And don’t just look at them close. Prop a sample up (against the wall, or on the couch) and step back to get a more general sense of color and tone.
Look at how the light reflects off them, and what it shows in the texture, or perfect smoothness, of the surface. The most basic types of finish layers on a hard type of floor are glossy and matte. Glossy flooring can go as far as to resemble the sheen of glass. While this can be captured in a photograph, there is no comparison to seeing it yourself directly. Matte finishes are designed to be more realistic if you’re getting a wood style floor, and are often textured in distressed or hand scraped styles.
If you do get a quite a few samples, it might help you to just look at two at a time, next to each other in your area. Then before you add another, try to pick one to pull away. This can keep the process from getting overwhelming.
Also, be aware that often the final floor will seem a little darker than the sample in your hand. If you’re holding it up, it may be closer to the light than it would be installed. Also, a full room of the flooring will impact the overall light in the room. It doesn’t always happen, and isn’t a strong effect, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Perform experiments on your samples
|These are your samples, so feel free to rub your hands together, cackle giddily, and put them through their paces! Here are a few suggestions. 1. Scratch them with your keys. We do it. Heck, we film it! Play this video and go in about 52 seconds. Keep playing, and you'll see how we clean off Sharpie markings. 2. Walk on them. A bunch. 3. With laminates, pour bleach onto the surfaces. See what doesn’t happen to the image.|
4. Hit the surface with ketchup, wine, grease, yellow curry powder, anything you have that might spill on the floor, but doesn’t require you to open a vein. See if it sticks. See if it cleans off according to the instructions and promises connected to the product. Most laminate floors recommend damp, warm paper towels for all of these. This could be your future.
|5. If the floor promises water resistance, leave water sitting on it for a while. If it promises resistance in the gaps between planks, then lock a couple together and put a little puddle across those gaps. Give it the amount of time for which protection is promised, wipe them off, pull them apart, and see if anything has infiltrated the locking mechanism area.|
6. If the floor promises 100% waterproofness, drop the sample in a bucket of water for a few days, pull it out and see how it looks. Our version of that test is in the video right above.
7. Do not test the burn resistance. Is this because we don’t trust the stated levels of burn resistance of our products? No. It’s because I don’t want to encourage you to light uncontrolled flames in your home near bleach, ketchup and damp paper towels. There are recommended experiments for this, but I am not going to tell you what they are, or you might die horribly and then sue us.
A Limitation on Sample Usefulness
If the product you are examining is wood, or a wood look, with a prominent or variant grain structure, a sample really may not be enough to give you an impression of your forthcoming floor. It will help, but being just a section of a single plank, it cannot show you all of the patterns and differences in a natural grain look. Feel free to contact us about this (or anything). We can describe the patterning, and even send you pictures if you like. You can call 1 (800) 804-5251, email us at Customer Service at floors to your home dot com or use our online chat.
Natural Hardwood Color
Most real wood reacts to being disconnected from its tree and left out in the open, which is essentially what we do with hardwood flooring planks. It expands and contracts with temperature and humidity, of course, but it also changes color, at least many species do. What each species does is generally well known, and it's something the shopper is told to plan on happening, but you may forget, if you have a sample in your hand, that this is the color the floor will be when installed, but not necessarily how it will look months or years down the road.
Since we have our flooring in stock, we can get you samples of your selections quite quickly and easily. We send good sized pieces, the full width of the planks by around eight inches. The process is easy too.
Now these are just my thoughts, but honestly, I'm not a real flooring customer. I'm on the other side of that, so you may have ideas I haven't thought of. Comment for us, what else can someone do with a sample to help them in their search for their floor?
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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
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