Greetings Floor Dealers!
In 2015 consumers learned that Lumber Liquidators had been selling Chinese-made laminate flooring with formaldehyde levels up to 13 times higher than allowed by California emissions standards. Formaldehyde is found in virtually everything, living or manufactured, but its excessive emissions can cause health problems, which is why California has strict standards for the amount allowed in flooring. Products following these standards are known as CARB 2 compliant. CARB 2 standards were accepted by the U.S. Congress and are scheduled to be adopted nationwide.
It is estimated that in California alone tens of thousands of Lumber Liquidators customers were victimized. After the story broke, consumers were left wondering how to ensure they were buying safe, quality flooring. It all starts with finding the right dealer. The good news is that by following the five steps outlined below, you can be sure to find an honest, ethical dealer who provides safe, quality products and reliable installations.
Step 1: Work with a local dealer
Big box stores, national discounters, and online dealers have no roots in your community and are usually unwilling to invest in professional-level customer service to secure repeat and referral business. By contrast, local dealers—including independent “mom-and-pop” operations as well as reputable franchises and co-ops—have a vested interest in providing safe, quality products, reliable installations, and good customer service.
Step 2: Avoid the high cost of cheap prices
Big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes that operate by slashing prices sacrifice the quality of the floor itself, the installation, and possibly even consumers’ health. Saving a few hundred dollars is simply not worth the headache of having a floor that falls apart six months down the road or causes health problems.
Step 3: Beware the risks of “free” installations
An installation by a skilled mechanic is as important as the product itself. You can pay top dollar for a high-end product only to have it coming up at the seams within a year because of a poor installation job.
Another misconception is that some installations are “free.” No installer works for nothing. Discounters make up for the cost of the “free” installation by padding the price of the materials. Since the installers are usually underpaid, they tend to rush from job to job, often sacrificing quality just to make a living.
Step 4: Ask questions
Here are some important questions to ask a dealer before you buy flooring:
Are your laminates CARB 2 compliant?
Working with a reputable, local dealer who provides references will help ensure you’re buying CARB 2 compliant products.
Do you provide product warranties?
If a dealer won’t provide a warranty on the product itself in writing, buy from someone else.
Do you provide installation warranties?
The installation is just as important as the product and should also come with a written warranty. Box stores, national discounters, and online dealers will sometimes have written warranties, but if you need to make a claim they often delay resolving the problem until you are forced to take legal action or until you simply give up.
Step 5: Get a list of references and testimonials.
This is by far the most important step. References and testimonials are the only way you can tell ahead of time if you are working with an honest dealer who provides safe, quality products, professional installations, and honors warranties. If he refuses to provide references, find another dealer.
By following these five steps you can help ensure that you avoid a flooring nightmare and, instead, get the safe, beautiful floors you’ve been dreaming of.
Note: This article is an educational piece for consumers. For reprints to give to your customers, visit www.lumber.viprespond.com.
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