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The Importance of ‘Try Before You Buy’

Try Before You Buy ImportanceComparing Samples

When you have requested some free oak flooring samples from a number of different suppliers and they have arrived, all looking reasonable enough with various pros and cons… what now?

Well, although there are a number of potential differences to consider, there are also a wide number of similarities too, so here are the four main key criteria that everyone usually wants when they buy their new oak flooring:

  • The optimum quality
  • The optimum appearance and aesthetics
  • The optimum product for your specific situation
  • And of course, the best possible price (or at least a cost-effective one)

Identifying the first 3 may appear at first quite simple, because you just look at the samples provided and decide from what you see which one looks the best quality, then which one looks the nicest to you, and then decide whether or not it fits with your personal requirements.

The biggest challenge is with the last point, because it is not as simple as first suspected to confirm the best price when choosing natural oak flooring for your interior. To demonstrate, we at Oak Floors Online strongly believe that “when you’re installing a new oak floor, you want to be doing it once not twice.”

This suggests that the key criteria are the quality of the product and its subsequent suitability for the specific installation. If you want the cheapest possible flooring solution, usually you will also be choosing a lower quality product, which will deliver neither durability nor longevity, two aspects of flooring supply that Oak Floors Online consider as paramount to every successful installation.

Budget is obviously very important because we can all only afford what we can afford but cheapest is certainly not always best, and neither is it usually the most cost-effective and value for money flooring solution that will last a lifetime. A product may seem cheap at first when compared with others but if it is of poor quality and fails, thus needing to be replaced very soon, where is the value for money in that?

But how do you gauge the quality and financial value of a natural product like oak flooring?

Try Before You Buy The Importance OfWe offer five key performance areas that may help, and these are:

  • Performance and Durability
  • Strength and Reliability
  • Features and Aesthetics
  • Perceived Quality
  • Specification, Conformance and Serviceability

Once all of these areas have been considered, and applied to the oak flooring samples you have received, then the perceived level of financial value can be decided. Failure to meet some, let alone all, of these considerations can have disastrous effects on your finished floor, whilst having a similar effect on your now-spent budget.

Whatever product sample you choose for your installation, it needs to meet at least 3 of the above key points, and preferably 4 or 5 but they must be applied for your own personal situation to avoid a costly mistake.

To demonstrate very simply, a common mistake may be to select a flooring solution that performs excellently and delivers high levels of durability; however it is simply hideous in its aesthetics and looks awful. Who in their right mind would be happy with a decision and result like that?

In order to help you in the selection of the optimum flooring solution we have created a list of questions, otherwise known as “The Engineered Sample Comparison Test- Value For Money”.

The Engineered Sample Comparison Test:

This test carefully provides considerations and questions designed to ensure that each of the five key performance areas are evaluated in order to help you gain the greatest value for money from your new oak flooring selection. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas:

  1. Performance and Durability:
  • Typically, thicker wear layers result in greater levels of durability meaning that your floor will last longer. Some key facts for consideration:
    • A 4mm wear layer will last 33% longer than a flooring solution with a 3mm wear layer.
    • Whereas a 6mm wear layer will provide longevity 50% longer than a 4mm wear layer.
    • Beware of companies who state that sanding will remove 0.5mm of the wear layer whilst only providing oak flooring planks with a 2.5mm wear layer.
  • Ask yourself whether you believe that this specific floor sample will provide greater levels of performance than the other floor samples you have for your situation?
  • Ask yourself whether you believe that this product will provide the required levels of performance for the duration you require when installed in your specific situation?
  • Does the specific product meet your required specifications?
  • Possibly it needs to be suitable for use with Under Floor Heating?
  • Are you fitting the flooring directly to joists or battens? If so you require a structural grade product.

Now Score the flooring plank on a scale of 1 to 10 for the level of Performance and Durability.

  1. Strength and Reliability:
  • Importance Try Before You BuyAsk yourself whether you believe the specific flooring sample offers the best structure and strength for your specific installation. Consider the following:
  • A plywood underside is stronger than a softwood or constructed one.
  • A plywood underside will provide far superior levels of stability than a softwood or construction core post installation.
  • Plywood offers a far stronger fix when using the secret nailing method of installation.
  • Ask yourself whether you believe this sample is able to deliver the level of stability you require?
  • Consider whether there is a better flooring solution to meet the requirements of your situation.
  • Examine the plank, does the underside have a stabilising veneer?
  • If so, is this veneer sealed to provide greater moisture protection?
    • Consider the installation method you will use, do you believe that following installation, the sample will feel like a natural oak floor when walked upon?
    • Bear in mind that some products with a thickness of less than 15mm can spring and bounce when walked upon, this is often the case when installed using the floating method, and often results in the feeling of an inferior, cheap, laminated floor.

Now score the flooring plank on a scale of 1 to 10 for the level of Strength and Reliability.

  1. Features and Aesthetics:
  • Does the sample provide both the look and feel that you desire?
  • Once the product is installed, do you think you will be satisfied with the overall appearance?
  • Do you believe that this specific flooring product has the features you require?
  • Do you believe that by spending the financial cost of the product, that you will be happy with the final result following application?

Once these questions have been answered, score the flooring on a scale of 1 to 10 on its Features and Aesthetics.

  1. Perceived Quality:

Please note, this can only really be defined by the individual intending to purchase the oak flooring because otherwise personal opinions may vary widely due to less financial commitment.

  • Ask yourself whether you feel this product is of the best quality that you can purchase for your situation.
  • Ask yourself honestly whether your choice is being driven by company product description and sales rhetoric or the actual facts.
  • Consider whether there is a better and more suited product available for your situation.
  • When you consider both the quality and the cost of the specific product, do you believe it offers the best value for money?

Now score the sample on a scale of 1 to 10 for Perceived Quality.

  1. Specification, Conformance and Serviceability:
  • Does this specific product’s specifications sufficiently meet your specific requirements and demands?
  • What will the installation costs of this product be?
  • Will the product specification be sufficient to avoid defects of floor failure post installation?
  • How much disruption will maintenance and repair of the flooring cause?
  • How often will the flooring solution require maintenance and repair work?
  • How easy will ongoing maintenance and repair work for the flooring solution be?
  • Does the product meet the industry required industry standards for sustainability like the EUTR requirements?

Now score the sample on a scale of 1 to 10 for Specification, Conformance and Serviceability.

When you apply the above system to all the flooring samples you have received, you will then have a total score for each product, hopefully helping you to make the correct decision for your own personal situation, whilst maximising value for money.