(Family Room "before" picture: with previous owners furniture)
(Office "before" picture)
1) Knowing when you may want or need new flooring installed: If the flooring makes you feel like you need to wear shoes every time you walk around, you might need new flooring. If your daughter's eyes swell up like a balloon after first walking through the house, you might need new flooring. If there is a mysterious smell emanating from the carpet, you might need new flooring. If there are stains that no longer wash out or vacuum out, then you might need new flooring. Accepting you have a problem is the first step.
2) Knowing what kind of flooring you want: I am not a fan of carpet. I love the look of wood. And frankly I've dreamed about having wood throughout my house like some girls dream of their weddings. I guess that's a symptom of having an Interior Designer for a dad. The key here is to think about the look you're going for in your house. I pinned like mad all of the flooring options that matched the look I wanted in my home. I'm going for a luxe feel with an eclectic styling: kind of a cottage luxe approach but on a bigger scale for this larger home. When pinning, I looked for flooring in the areas I was thinking of redoing myself: the kitchen, the formal living room, the great room, and the master bedroom. I wanted to see how wood looked in those rooms. I wanted to see how light reflected on the floor; how different colors of wood looked against the paint color I was considering; and how things like plank size, pattern, and style changed the look. Narrowing down your options to wood, carpet, tile, or something else is key. Trust me. When you go shopping, you'll want to know what you're looking for.
3) Shopping around: And around and around and around. This was a very time consuming process and honestly was more difficult than I imagined. We decided that we needed at least three bids on our flooring to make an informed decision about which company to go with. We went to over five different places. What we found was that every place had a slightly different approach to picking flooring. Some put the prices right out on the samples. Some have what seems like a secret but negotiable price. Some disclose their installation rates right up front, and some require that you ask a lot of questions and do some digging. Here are some things to ask:
a) Know your price point. Don't let them show you something you can't afford.
b) Know your overall desired look. Ask them to show you some different options in that style.
c) Take notes. You'll need these when comparing pricing at other stores. Write down the wood brand, the price, the installation costs, etc. so your comparisons are similar.
d) Know the area you're redoing including possible problems such as tile installed underneath cabinets, damaged flooring, etc. You'll want to know they are capable of handling everything.
e) Be willing to compromise. You might not find exactly what you want. Get as close to it as you can.
f) Negotiate. These places want your business. Talk to them honestly about what you can pay and what you want and see what they can do for you. When they know you're looking around, they're more willing to negotiate the price.
4) Too Many Options: Selecting the flooring was exhausting. I thought it was going to be so much fun. Not so much. I knew that I wanted brown wood. I didn't want any red in it. I didn't want it to be too busy. I just wanted brown wood that looked like engineered hardwood. Laugh now. Because when it comes to selecting you don't always get what you want (see comment above). Also the challenge of picking flooring based on a 12" x 12" sample makes it a whole lot more difficult to choose. You can't really picture how it will look in your 20 foot great room in a sample that small. Maybe if you squint a little and place the sample really far away from you, you'll get a good idea. Ask them to bring the sample with them when they measure the area in which they're installing or check out the sample to take home with you. Most places will allow this and it really helps you to see inside your home how the wood will look in your light, with your paint.
5) Measure twice, cut once: Make appointments for measurements. We had them bid out the areas we were thinking of doing as separate jobs so we could decide how much of the flooring to do. We were surprised at how many companies did not keep their appointments or didn't show up when they said they would. This is another reason for having more than one option to choose from when it comes to installation companies. We had one company that never showed that called us two weeks later to try and reschedule. And then we had one company come and measure but then wait two weeks before sending us a bid. Obviously neither company ended up with the job.
6) Select the company: Our bids were all over the place. Some companies were willing to move our island and install the flooring underneath. Some wouldn't even touch it. Some of the bids included installation fees that were much higher than other bids. Some bids couldn't match the flooring cost of other bids. Wading through the bids is often difficult. Our best bid was typed out for each of the "jobs" in our house. It contained all of the flooring we wanted with the price per square foot. It also included all the installation fees and demo fees. It was clear cut and concise and was also an incredible price. We ended up going with Carpet One (or Carpet Giant as it is called in other areas). They just couldn't be beat, and we actually did give other companies the opportunity to do so. They couldn't.
7) Freak out a little: Remember I warned you about this at the first of the post. Once we had selected the wood for the main floor, we scheduled our appointment for installation. Just a few days before they were to start we found a picture of the flooring on the company's website. I HATED it. I mean hated it so much I felt sick. We drove up to the store and asked to see a sample of it. We couldn't figure out why it looked so different from the picture online. We weren't satisfied. So we drove an additional hour up to the warehouse to pull a few planks to look at. It still didn't look as bad as it did in the picture, but we were starting to question ourselves at this point. So we asked them to bring a box down from the warehouse so we could look at in our house. They politely agreed. Once we looked at it in our home, we realized we had made the right choice. All we can think is that the flooring company's website had a really bad Photoshop job because it looks nothing like this (thank goodness):
(Company online website photo.)
(The two different samples we had the company bring down with them. Looks NOTHING like the company photo.)
8) When installation runs long: When we first scheduled the installation dates, they told us to plan on three days. Knowing how much they had to install and demo, I figured a week. THREE WEEKS LATER, they were finally done. That meant my fridge, dishwasher, and stove all resided in my garage for that entire time.
We had to get seriously creative with the cooking. Not to mention the dust. There was tile dust and sawdust everywhere: in my cupboard, in my pantry, on my blinds, on my ceiling fans. I'm grateful we could do this without moving into the areas where the flooring was being installed. I cannot imagine the mess had all the furniture been in the house.
There were lots of long days during the installation. Days when they didn't come. Days when they only worked two hours. It was frustrating and exhausting. But the quality of their work was incredible, and they were super nice. We were firm and tried to stay on top of them to make sure the job was moving forward. We visited the store several times to talk to the manager to make sure items were getting done and that our installers were staying on task. This wasn't something I was initially prepared for and it was more than a little difficult, but once it was done we were very happy with the result. I learned a lot about asking good questions, living in the mess, and how to deal with the constant state of remodeling.
9) Enjoying the finished results: We finally have a new floor. Sadly just days after it was installed our fridge leaked and warped a few planks. I guess that's part of home ownership. We have a few extra boxes and will have it fixed when we have the time. Here's a little peek at how the house is coming together with the new floors:
(Master Bedroom "in between")
(Living Room "in between")
(Family Room "in between")
(Kitchen "in between")
Stay tuned for additional house updates throughout 2015! I'm excited to see this house become our home.