Floor covering is one of the largest purchases that many homeowners will ever make next to a house or automobile. Like that car or house a floor covering can be a purchase of joy or pain. A properly selected floor covering will also add function, value, comfort and pleasure to a home or business. A floor covering that is selected with little or no thought to the environment in which it is to be used will result in a major disappointment.
Floor Covering Planning – Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)
In a home or a business, floor covering is both an important and a valuable element of design. Floor covering can offer both the desired aesthetics and required performance qualities, when care is taken in its selection. With the huge variety of materials, fibers, styles and colors available an individual can find a product in the correct price range that will provide years of enjoyment and function.
Should an improperly selected floor covering be it sheet vinyl, laminated wood, carpet, hardwood or any other product fail, the unhappy consumer often places blame on the dealer they purchased it from. In turn, the dealer will likely blame the problem on the floor covering manufacturer. If the floor covering is carpet, the carpet manufacturer might blame the problem on the fiber manufacturer who in turn places the blame back on the retailer, consumer or another individual or inanity. This can result in a big viscous circle with everyone being blamed but no one taking responsibility.
As a consumer you should expect the sales representative to educate you and steer you in the right direction instead of going along with you to make the easy sale. Unfortunately many companies fail to educate their sales representatives so that they understand how products differ and therefore a consumer must be prepared when making a purchase.
It is the responsibility of those marketing a floor covering product to understand color, construction, performance and installation, and to pass this information on to the end user. The consumer needs to understand that by spending just a little more money, (often only a few extra dollars more a month) on the purchase, it will save them many dollars and a lot of grief over the life of the carpet, laminate, hardwood or other floor covering. Unfortunately, for a consumer the word is caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). The phrase caveat emptor arises from the fact that buyers often have less information about the good or service they are purchasing, while the seller has more information. Defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller. Thus, the buyer should beware. This is called information asymmetry.
Having spent over forty years in the floor covering industry as a dealer, contractor, consultant and inspector, I have analyzed thousands of installations to determine what has caused the products premature failure or loss in appearance. Regularly it is found that the performance exhibited by a product is consistent with the characteristics of its construction. What this usually means is that the product has failed as it was not properly specified or selected for the environment in which it was to be used. Often the cause of the failure is a result of the floor covering being improperly cared for due to lack of knowledge or neglect. Improper selection and care are avoidable situations that may require a little study on the part of the end-user. As a youth my father James H. Weinheimer who was in the floor covering service business had a saying that one would be wise to follow today, “Price is soon forgotten but quality still remains”.
Terry Weinheimer can be reached at The Weinheimer Group.