5 Ways to Save Money on New Flooring

by Jeff Rose on 7 May 2012 1 comment
Photo: Zach Klein

As a financial planner, you're probably wondering why I would be in a position to give you flooring advice. Personally, I don't blame you. Prior to building our dream home a few years ago, I didn't know squat about flooring. Now that my wife and I have examined every flooring know to man, we feel pretty confident to share some tips.

Here are five tips and ideas for how to save money the next time you buy floor covering. (See also: 15 Home Decorating Ideas for Under $5)

1. Know Your Objective

The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to buying floor covering is choosing the wrong product for their lifestyle. Got a steady stream of messy kids going in and out of your house? Then installing carpet in a hallway, where it could easily stain or show wear, isn’t a good choice. However, carpet might be perfect for bedrooms or other low-traffic areas of your home where you want to create a cozy environment.

Different types of flooring products have inherently different usage limitations. For instance, if you want to install something that will hold up for 20 years, ceramic tile is obviously more durable and long-lasting than carpet.

However, within each product category there’s a wide range of quality to be aware of. An inexpensive ceramic tile can shatter easily if you drop something heavy on it, whereas a more expensive porcelain tile would hold up under the same situation.

Similarly, a carpet made with an inexpensive fiber type (like olefin) can look trampled down after a year of moderate wear, whereas an expensive wool carpet would still look brand new. So remember that cheaper floor covering isn’t always better if it ends up disappointing you or it wears out too quickly and causes you to have to invest in another floor sooner than you planned.

To make sure you’re buying the right floor covering for your needs, do your research and consult with a few experienced salespeople at different stores.

2. Buy In-Stock Inventory

No matter what type of flooring you want, you’ll save money by selecting in-stock inventory instead of making a special order from a store sample. Floor covering manufactures give big discounts to dealers who buy in bulk and those savings get passed on to customers.

There are probably one or two flooring stores in your area that are known for power-buying, or getting products by the trailer load. Then they stack it deep and sell it cheap!

If you're building your dream home or have something specific in mind, you probably won’t find the exact shade of pink carpet or the exotic hardwood species you want. But when you need to install flooring in a kid’s bedroom, dress up a floor to sell your home, or freshen up a rental property, buying in-stock floor covering is the best way to get a quality product for less.

3. Install It Yourself

A big part of the cost of floor covering is labor and installation. If you’re handy or are willing to learn how to install a certain type of flooring product, it can save you a bundle. While I'm not that handy — far from it! — my father-in-law is and helped us with our house. There are some products, like laminate flooring, which are easy to install with just a few basic tools.

If you can recruit a neighbor, friend, or family member like I did to help, installing new floors or a kitchen backsplash can be fun and gratifying weekend project. You’ll find lots of help by searching YouTube for how-to videos on every type of floor covering installation.

4. Use a Remnant

One of the least expensive ways to put down new flooring is to take advantage of what floor covering dealers call a carpet remnant. Remnants are leftover pieces from a carpet roll that are sold at big discounts. They’re a low-cost solution when you need good carpet for a small bedroom, home office, porch, or walk-in closet.

Floor covering retailers also end up with leftover boxes of tile, wood, or laminate that they’re willing to sell at a huge discount. This is a great option when you need to spruce up floor covering in a foyer, laundry room, or bathroom.

5. Ask For a Discount

My final tip is probably the easiest way to get a good deal — ask for a discount. You’ll have more success negotiating price with a small, independent retailer than you will with a large home center. Most independent dealers have 5% to 10% of bargaining room built into their prices, because haggling is not uncommon.

If a dealer isn’t willing to lower their price, try offering to pay your bill with cash. When you pay a merchant with a credit card, you can get some great perks — but it costs them. The fees they pay to process your credit card can be over 2% of the total sale depending on the type of card you use.

Another way to get a discount is to ask for a lower price if you’re willing to do some or all of the installation yourself. By moving furniture or removing and disposing of your old flooring, you can shave a significant amount off the labor portion of your bill.

I recommend that you build good rapport with a flooring retail owner or salesperson and simply ask them the best way to get a bargain. You might be surprised how much they’re willing to help you save money, so you become a happy customer and refer your friends and family for future sales.

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JW Ginn

Thanks for providing some excellent ideas. Similar to #5, I try to do several projects at once. Since I am spending more I typically always get a discount. I look forward to reading more on your site.