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Choose the Right Carpet, Hardwood, Vinyl or Tile Floor

5 Tips for Selecting the Right Floor

Ken's Quick Answer:

Don’t pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a floor and then regret your purchase a few months later. Here are 5 easy tips for picking a beautiful and high-performing product that will fit you and your family’s needs for years to come:

1.) Objective: What Problems Are You Trying to Solve?

2.) Budget: How Much Do You Want to Pay for Your Floor?

3.) Performance: Select a Floor that Will Last You for Years

4.) Color: Make a Statement or Blend With Other Elements in the Room

5.) Pattern: Add to Your Design and Hide Wear and Tear

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Ken's In-Depth Answer:

There are 5 things that you should be thinking about before you set foot in a flooring store. If you consider each of these items carefully, you’re much more likely to pick a product that you’ll be happy with for years down the road. All floors are expensive—don’t waste your money picking a product that doesn’t fit your style or your lifestyle.

1.) Objectives for Your Flooring: What Problems Are You Trying to Solve?

Many clients will start by telling me they want to buy a carpet or a hardwood floor. In reality, they may be jumping the gun. I always start with a series of questions asking the customer what they want to accomplish.

For instance, carpet is most often found in the bedroom for a couple of reasons. First, when you get out of bed, you want something soft and warm. (To put it another way—do you really want a cold tile or hardwood floor to be touching your bare feet each morning?) People also often remove their shoes by the time they reach the bedroom, meaning carpet will generally wear much better over time than it will in a living room or an entryway.

What if you have a basement that floods? Well, you’ll want to choose a floor that is more water-resistant, or even waterproof. Perhaps a luxury vinyl floor or a tile floor could serve you well.

One final example. What if you’re worried about scratching up your hardwood floor? In this case, you could purchase an area rug to cover up higher-traffic areas. Or, you could simply remove your shoes as soon as you enter the house—no purchase necessary!

In other words, rather than starting with a specific product in mind, think about your current problems and/or objectives for the room. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can seek out floors that meet your needs and desires.

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2.) Budget: How Much Do You Want to Pay for Your Floor?

Many customers want to hold their cards close because they want to get the most for their money. In reality, however, the price of each product is set well before you walk into the store. When you disclose your budget parameters, you’ll save time by looking only at the best selection of products within your price range.

If you’re interested in learning more about why flooring products cost what they do, we'll have a video about the seven factors that impact carpet pricing soon!

3.) Performance: Select a Floor that Will Last You for Years

Do you have dogs? Do you have cats? Do you have kids? Are you walking right into your house off the street without any mudroom? If you don’t select the right floor, forget how pretty it looks. It’s not going to last very long and you will have wasted your money.

Here are some quick tips. If you have cats, never select loop carpet. If you’re likely to have stains, consider a stain-protected carpet. Don’t select a sisal carpet or a Tencel/viscose carpet unless you really know what you’re getting into. Vinyl plank and tile are great products in kitchens and bathrooms where water is present.

4.) Color: Make a Statement or Blend With Other Elements in the Room

I used to think color was the #1 most important selection factor. Regardless, it’s still extremely important. I encourage clients to start by thinking outside the box. Go beyond beige and white. Yes, even consider some bright colors!

One strategy is to blend with the other elements in the room. For instance, you may want to match or compliment a wallpaper color or an item of furniture. Or, you can make a statement with your floor’s color. Here’s a stair carpet we installed in a blue leopard color. It’s certainly the focal point of this area of the house, but we think it looks beautiful!

If you’d more tips on this topic, see our video about how to know whether you've selected the right carpet color.

5.) Pattern: Add to Your Design and Hide Wear and Tear

One of the problems with a plain floor is that it becomes a blank canvas for dirt, scratches and all the things that you spill. Patterns help disguise wear and tear and it also creates visual interest.

You can mix carpet patterns with upholstery patterns and wallpaper patterns. Designers do this all the time! Or, perhaps you want a carpet with a coastal design, whose variation in color emulates the waves in the ocean.

Here’s an example of hiding signs of wear. This is a herringbone tile we installed in a Portsmouth, RI kitchen with lots of interest and color variation. Compare this to a pure white tile floor where any scuff would far more noticeable.

Conclusion: Choose a Floor that Will Last You for Years

There’s no getting around it: Floors are a necessary and expensive purchase. Don’t pay lots of money for a new floor and then regret your choice just a few months later. Consider the five factors that we talked about today: Objectives, budget, performance, color and pattern.

When you visit our showroom or another flooring retailer, you’ll know exactly what to expect and what to look out for. As a next step, feel free to watch our other videos on selecting carpet, selecting hardwood and selecting tile floors below.

If you have any questions about how to choose a beautiful floor that will last you for years, don't hesitate to give us a call at 401-214-0285 or visit our showroom. We serve customers throughout Rhode Island and southeastern New England, including Newport, Middletown, Jamestown, Portsmouth, Bristol and more.

1.) The Easiest Way to Choose the Right Carpet

Carpet: Think Function, Price, Color, Style

"Carpet has thousands of options and it can be hard to know where to start. Here's the decision tree I always follow: function, price, color, and style. If you ask a few basic questions and follow that sequence, you can't go wrong."

2.) How to Choose the Right Hardwood Floor

Hardwood: Think Price, Width, Color, Character

Feeling stuck when choosing hardwood? Follow Ken’s decision tree. Price, the width of the wood, the color, and the character. If you follow these steps, you're sure to find a product that will make you happy.

3.) Find the Tile Floor You Want For Your Bathroom or Kitchen

Tile: Think Countertops, Style, Size/Shape, Edge Finish, Shower Pan

Feeling stuck when choosing tile? Follow Ken’s decision tree. Think of your countertops first. Then decide on style, size/shape, edge finish, and your shower pan. If you follow these steps, you can’t go wrong when shopping for tile floors.

Ken Fain smiling and wearing a green and yellow collared shirt

About Ken: Ken Fain is the co-owner of Island Carpet in Middletown, RI and a floorcovering veteran of more than 40 years. His popular 'Ask Ken' video series answers common flooring questions on a variety of topics. It has reached thousands of viewers on both YouTube and Facebook.

Ken Fain wearing collared shirt and a Great Dane

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