Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Year Ago ...

Can you believe it's already been a year since my foray into the world of installing laminate flooring at This D*mn House began? It hardly seems possible. (I think it must be due to the serious mental block I've tried to build to prevent myself from revisiting the often nightmarish experience.)

Time has lessened the trauma, though I still involuntarily bristle every time I hear the "I want a floor like thaaaaaaaat" melody that still ends their commercials.

In the past year, the floor has held up admirably. It has its share of scratches, a small gouge or two, but nothing major or even noticeable, unless you already know that it's there. And in fairness to Shaw Floors, they met my criticisms and complaints head-on -- but only after I invested the effort into getting to someone who would listen.

That said, they gave me a refund. It was a small refund , especially considering how they managed to turn a three-day job into a more like 30-day project -- about 12 percent of the total cost -- but a refund, just the same. Of course, it would have been a larger refund, but Home Depot opted to keep their cut of it. (It took me a while, but I finally figured out why the refund Shaw quoted me and the one Home Depot gave me differed by nearly $60.)

So, a year later, I still harbor an HD grudge. They've done nothing to lessen it either. But since they're an exclusive carrier of Behr paint, I have to keep going there. That, and they now have a store that's a few miles closer than Lowe's.

Would I do it again? No. I'd probably have just bought the Bruce hardwood that I liked so much. But I thought that would be a challenge to install ... Truth be told though I think my case is the exception rather than the rule. Most DIY flooring jobs I've heard about have gone smoothly. However, the majority of horror stories I've heard have evolved, oddly enough, from having "the pros" come and do it. Go figure.

So, here's a few tips on choosing a floor. (Some of these I learned from my online searching!)
  1. Investigate. Read everything you can. (I sure wish Google had had a blog search last year!) See what others are saying about the company and/or specific product you're interested in. I had run across a few entries online from people who had used Shaw products and had good luck in doing it. Check out company Web sites. Look online for complaints specific to the company or product -- and heed them.
  2. Shop around. Take full advantage of competing stores. When I bought this floor, HD honored a current 10 percent off special order flooring at Lowe's. These two often like to do battle that way. Pit them against one another and make it work to your benefit.
  3. Avoid special order. There are some beautiful options out there, and, unfortunately, some of them can only be had through special order. Run, don't walk, away from these! That way, you don't have to worry about added delays if you run short or need more product due to excessive damage.
  4. Buy an installation kit. If you do the job yourself, this $10-$20 investment is worth every penny. The plastic spacers and the block (that you bang on to click the pieces into place) are very handy.
  5. Buy or borrow a saw. If you don't own a miter or table saw, get one. I was lucky enough to get a compound miter saw at a bargain price. It made all the difference in moving things along.

No comments: