The perils of buying hardwood floors online

The internet has transformed how we educate ourselves and decide where to purchase the items we need. While buying online is a good option for certain products, the unique attributes of hardwood floors and important related installation considerations make online purchasing a bad choice that often leads to catastrophic results. Read below to better understand why purchasing your floors through a local, professional flooring dealer is critical for a successful project.


Every home is unique.

The environment in your home dictates what type of floor can or cannot be used. Important factors include:  changes in seasonal temperature and humidity in your local area, specific conditions at your site (for example, if the home is built into a hillside, sits close to a body of water, or gets lots of direct sunlight), what areas of the home will receive the flooring, and most importantly, the condition of your subfloor. Often there is subfloor preparation work that is needed before the wood floor is installed, and the scope of that work is dictated in part by the flooring choice going above it. It’s critical to have a local professional who is familiar with your area look at the home, assess the condition of the structure and subfloor, and make product recommendations accordingly. No one should tell you that a product is perfect for your home if they have not been to your home.


Local Commitment.

Unlike some online retailers, established flooring professionals, both in sales and installation, live by their reputations. They are committed to steering customers in the right direction and doing the work correctly, as your satisfaction and later recommendation of their service is critical to the longevity of their business. They are also far more committed to working with you to solve any issues should they arise.  Returning an unwanted floor to an online retailer can be a massive expense, and attempting to get their help on a failure is often met with resistance and/or unresponsiveness. They may be 1000 miles away behind a desk. They can’t come over and look at the problem for you.


One Line of Accountability

What happens if you buy a flooring product online and then hire a local contractor to install it, and something goes wrong? Often, the contractor will blame the product, and the online seller will blame the contractor. You can get caught in the middle, with no one taking responsibility.  When you buy from a reputable local retailer who is furnishing the product and doing the installation, there is one line of accountability and the combination of labor and materials is supported as a complete package.


Material quality. 

Great product shots do not guarantee great product quality.

Everything can be made to look good online. But an experienced professional actually knows which products perform well in your area.  They will guide you to products made from quality materials and that look good installed, for the intended lifetime of the floor.

Wood floors often feature significant variation in color, grain structure, and rustic characteristics. Making a large purchase based on internet photos and a small cut sample sent in the mail is a good way to be disappointed. By contrast, a local retailer will have larger sample panels that you can borrow to see inside your home, and they may have past experience with the same product so they can honestly answer questions you may have about its various characteristics and performance.

With low price their primary focus, online retailers will often choose to build with cheap material substitutes that, while not visible in imagery, can be seen once the product arrives, or will lead to issues once material is installed. Here are a few.

  • Low quality base layers. If you’re fortunate, your planks arrive so bowed, you don’t install them. But inferior substrates don’t always show their true colors until after installation, and can result in the need for expensive, disruptive tear-outs.
  • Low quality adhesive between layers. Invisible to the eye, adhesive failures between wood layers can lead to delamination.
  • Inadequate protective coatings. All wood floors wear, but a good protective coat should give you years, not months of a great looking floor.
  • Inferior Wood. Wood is naturally variable, with many different levels of quality within a single species. Reputable brands go through great lengths to build from only high quality raw material, sourcing from consistent and certified timber sources and drying the material meticulously to ensure minimal movement in the future. Low quality timber, mixing raw wood from different sources, and rushed or improper drying is reflected in the final floor having unwanted variability and/or structural instability.

We hope this information helps educate you on your upcoming project and we invite you to search through our wide range of floors here on our website. In addition, we highly recommend you visit one of our flooring partners in your region to see, feel and determine which is the perfect choice for your home. Click below to find a Monarch Plank dealer in your area.

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