Digital scrap items in the header, layouts and sidebar are by Miss Mint at or Jen Wilson at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Layouts

I've gotten a bit of scrapping done in between the other stuff (see below):

This LO uses Jen Wilson's new Academy line (Art Papers):

The Other Stuff: I can't remember if I mentioned this or not but the carpet in our front office is going to have to be replaced. It's crappy builder grade and some stains we shampooed out last year came back with a vengance in the heat of our un-airconditioned house. I'm too anal to live with it so I spent yesterday shopping for new floors. I went up to my favorite local store (Humble Carpet & Tile) to talk to my favorite sales rep (Bob Blue). He did our tile flawlessly last year and was happy to have me come back. We quickly negotiated a ROCKING deal on the last 10 boxes of some top-of-the-line laminate flooring they had left in stock. I'd had my heart set on wood but after thinking about how hard I am on the floor in there, and knowing that wood floors could warp and buckle in heat like what we just experienced without power, I decided the laminate would be great for our little office. I used to work in a flooring store and loved it so you're going to have to hear all the details! It's a gorgeous product in a unique medium-dark warm brown shade with an AC3 rating and 12 mm core (read: extremely rugged & durable. Aiden-proof.) I can't stand a hollow-sounding floor so we're getting upgraded underlayment and are going to install it ourselves! Brian is pretty excited about his new project!

I know we're probably not the only ones with some sort of carpet problems after Ike. If you need to recarpet a single bedroom or study, a remnant is the way to go in my opinion. They allow you to get a very expensive, gorgeous cut of carpet installed for the price of builder-grade. How? Because when a house is carpeted, extra is always ordered to ensure there is enough to finish the job in that dye lot. Installers are very good at piecing scraps so it's not unusual to have 12x6 - 12x15 foot rolls of carpet left over after a large job. (Carpet is most often milled and sold in widths of 12 feet.) These remnants go back into warehouse stock with little to NO cost associated with them because the entire amount of carpet material was billed to the original job. The store is then in the position to sell the remnant at a huge discount to make a bit of extra money while also saving you from paying full retail price. Problem is most people don't know about it, don't understand how it works or they assume remnants mean "second-quality" (it doesn't!) so stores end up with lots of remnants. THIS is the situation you're looking for!

Bob was kind enough to give me information about a local carpet dealer that has tons upon tooooons of carpet remnants in stock right now:

Hooker O W Floor Company
2129 Aldine Bender
Houston, TX 77032

You'll need to arrange for the store or a contracted installer with the store to do the installation. You won't be able to find anyone else reputable willing to install a remnant. (If they somehow mess up, they have to buy you replacement carpet at full retail price. No one but the remnant seller will take this risk.) Don't be shy, tell them what size room you need to carpet and ask if they have any top-of-the-line carpets they're wheeling and dealing on. Remember to measure the closet!

A Few Tips From Someone Familiar With The Business:

When buying any type of flooring from anyone, don't be shy about negotiating a price you like. Installation prices typically can't be negotiated because of contracts with the installers but material price can! It's like buying a car - you don't have to pay what's on the sticker. The best approach is 'The Honest Cheapskate'. Tell the sales rep what you want and that you're on a budget but don't reveal your budget. (If the sales rep asks you right off the bat what your budget is say "Not much." or "A little more than the cost to rip out the carpet and cover the slab with newspaper." The rep will get the hint that you need a special deal if he's going to win your business!) Ask about material already in stock, special pricing and job leftovers. Request a quote based on your square foot measurements, keeping in mind you'll need 10% additional material and additional products necessary for proper installation of your flooring product (like pad, underlayment, glue, patch, prep, float, grout...) Bug your eyes, say 'oh, no' and gawk at the first number then tell them you're really sorry that you can't do that price at all. This won't be hard - the price really will be more than what you wanted to hear. Then say "Is that the best price you can give us on that floor?" If they won't budge, say "Let's consider some less expensive options. What type of carpet/wood/tile can you do for [your budget minus $100 for taxes]?"

If you're not making any headway, go to another store and start over. Some stores really don't give their sales reps the ability to negotiate so that the company can maintain high profit margins. Normally your sales rep will work with you if they can. Don't be afraid to walk away from a fair-but-not-what-you-had-hoped price to "think about it" and then call back the next day. The rep won't want to loose the sale and it gives him time to talk to those above him about approving a reduced price to win your business - something he may not have been able to do while you were there. Honestly NEED the price lower? Go get a vague quote for similar (or not-so-similar but still cheaper) flooring from a nearby competitor and call your rep to see if he's willing to match or come down on the price because you like his product color or installation record of his store better. In a stalemate, that tactic will usually send a rep running to his boss for discount pricing approval. Trust me, my office was next to the owner's and I frequently saw reps running down the hall to beg! LOL!

Additional Things I Would Do:

1. Your sales rep is actually the person that makes your experience a dream or a disaster so you need a good one. Call the store and ask to speak to someone in accounts receivable. (Because sales reps usually answer the phone and you don't want to leave this to chance.) When you get the office worker on the phone apologize for the interruption but tell them you need special help and ask which sales rep is the best to work with. You should get a very honest opinion from the person processing all their paperwork! There are two types of reps: Good Deal reps and Everything-Goes-Perfect-But-You-Pay-For-Perfection sales reps. You decide what you want. (Bob Blue at Humble Carpet & Tile is actually a Good Deal rep with a spotless installation track record. Very rare!) NOW ONLY WORK WITH THAT REP! Ask to speak with them or find out what days and hours they are working and go in the store ASKING for them the moment you walk in. Get the hours they work and come back if they're not in during your visit.

2. When you buy your floors, VERY CLEARLY tell the sales rep you want the best installation crew for the material you purchased and that you are willing to wait for them to do your job. Some sales reps will rush installation, assigning it to whoever is available, because they want the commission as quickly as possible but this can mean trouble for you. Trust me, it's WELL worth the couple day's wait to have the best crew install your floors. This is of the utmost importance for wood and tile.

3. Be difficult to please in the beginning when you're negotiating price then suddenly become extremely easy to work with. Your sales rep will understand you're serious but will greatly appreciate your understanding if one of the many, many companies, trucks and people involved with your flooring hit a snag that delays it. Again, being in a rush to get your floors in means you won't get the most ideal outcome possible. Insist on the best installation crew above all else.

P.S. If you are suspicious of some of the installation material charges, get the quote in writing then walk away to think about it and do some online research. Most products you'll be quoted for actually are necessary. Keep in mind you own the house so the condition of your slab is your problem - it's not the store's fault if the slab must be repaired prior to installation to ensure your floors go in properly! See the bottom of the post for more info.

4. If you are pleased, return to your sales rep for future purchases. They will appreciate the loyalty and you'll be shocked at how quickly they'll negotiate with you in the future. Even better, let your sales rep know what flooring you want to replace next and ask them to keep a lookout for special deals for you. If you were easy to work with, they'll be anxious to have you back.

5. Do not ever buy flooring from big box stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. While they have individual people who are good, kind and caring that work for them, the process of getting floors from the mill to your home is a surprisingly long one with a lot of people in between. Problems with the mill, the area distributor, the trucking contractors or the store that sold you the floor itself can cause huge delays. This is made worse by huge stores that are also arranging and organizing wood, tool and appliance orders and shipments. You need a store dedicated to just flooring with people who are going to constantly track your materials until they are properly laid in your home. On a side note, independent floorcovering stores always have the best installers because they pay them the most. I just can't stress enough how good installers can make a kinda nice floor look gorgeous and how bad installers can make an expensive floor look awful. And check out the list of questionable items below. They're FAMOUS for charging for unnecessary items!

Here's a list of legitimate installation items you may be charged for:

Patch: A specific product meant to patch cracks & divits in your slab.
Float/Self-Leveler: A self-leveling concrete-type product to level out your floors. Used for every type of flooring installation except residential carpet, unless the slab is grossly uneven.
Prep/2-in-1/3-in-1: Patch & Float combined in one bag. Most stores use this because installers like it. It runs $48-$75 per bag (100 sf coverage) installed. Meaning although the bag itself only costs about $25-$40, the labor of prepping your slab is also included in the "bag price".
Carpet Pad: May or may not be included in the installation price but it's easy to get them to throw in basic 3/8 inch for free. Just tell them a competitor is doing it. And then consider upgrading to 1/2 inch solid urethane.
Underlayment/Vapor Barrier: Necessary for proper installation of laminate and floating wood floors.
Wood Glue: Necessary for installation of wood floors and is usually included in the wood installation price. 95% of wood flooring in Texas has to be glued to the slab and you must use a glue approved by the manufacturer so you don't void the warranty. ASK if they are using a manufacturer-approved glue. Most of the time these are name brand and will run $80-$150 per bucket. (100-150 sf coverage). Glitter is often put in name brand glue that you won't be able to see until it's dry. If you ever have a problem with the floor, they can tell if the right glue was used so don't let your sales rep talk you out of it!
Trim/Quarter Round: This goes along your baseboards to give your wood/laminate/tile floors a finished appearance. If you don't want it, you have the option of undercutting your baseboards and caulking at the edge instead for twice the price.
Transition Pieces: Like the name implies, they go where one type of flooring ends and another begins. You'll be charged for wood, laminate & rubber transition pieces. Some may need to be stained to match at an additional charge.
Undercutting Doors & Base Boards: This is required for extremely thick carpeting and wood products that are significantly taller than your current flooring. You can request your baseboards be undercut for small rooms if you don't like the appearance of quarter round trim.
Note: You might be asked to pay for a saw blade since one small to medium install will completely use up a circular blade. Typically this is just included in the undercutting labor price.
Grout: May or may not be included in tile installation price. Expect to pay $25-$40 per bag installed.
Caulk: Necessary for vinyl installations and common with other hard surface flooring installs. Be sure YOU pick out the color caulk you want if you're paying for it. If you're not charged, assume bright white caulk will be used, even against dark wood kitchen cabinets. Ask to buy coordinating caulk at your expense if you need to.
Wood Underlayment: Surprisingly this is necessary for nail-down wood floors and some second-floor hard surface flooring installations.
Demo/Removal/Disposal Fee: The store has to pay the contracter to remove the old flooring and they also have to pay to dump it but a lot of stores take advantage of this necessity and over-charge in this area. Removal should cost 1/2 the price of installation and the disposal fee should be less than $60. Most stores wisely factor this into the installation price to avoid upsetting customers.

Questionable Items:

Tack Strip: Should be included in the carpet installation price. It's dirt cheap, you really shouldn't be charged for this.
Z-bar: Should be included in the installation price unless you have an extensive area where carpet will meet a lower flooring like vinyl. (This is a transition piece that goes under the carpet to create a "wrapped" edge.) Z-bar charges can be a sneaky way for reps to add in an additional $25-$30 to your ticket total. A 6 foot piece costs about $10 installed if your job honestly needs extra z-bar.
Pade Glue: A drizzle is used to stick the pad to your slab so it doesn't move while the carpet is installed over it but you shouldn't be charged for this. Run screaming from any store that tries to add this to your ticket!
Mortar/Thinset: Should be included in the tile installation price or should represent 50¢ or less of the $3.50 per sf or less of the tile installation price.
Trowels/Tapping Blocks/Scraper Blades/Other Tools: Unless you're installing the flooring yourself and you asked the store to order these things for you they should not be on the ticket. Your installer will already own these tools or should buy them for himself if a specialty product, like mortar or glue, requires them for installation.
Slab Sealer: You shouldn't be charged unless you have water damage or you requested it.
Tile/Grout Sealer: Again, shouldn't be charged unless you requested it as an add-on.

WHEW! Long post. Sorry, I get carried away with flooring stuff! LOL! Hope this helps someone!

1 comment:

Muggle Mom said...

great tips! we need to do new floors eventually, so this post will be super helpful! :)