Would You Buy A Computer The Way Most People Buy An Oak Floor?
Think about the last time you went to a computer store to buy a new laptop.
You arrive at the store, find the nearest acne-riddled salesman and declare "I want to buy a computer."
The salesman mumbles "Which one would you like?"
"The cheapest!" you reply.
He ambles off half-heartedly and returns, what seems a lifetime later, to present you with the cheapest computer in the store and with barely contained disinterest, declares "This one's just £299 on special offer today!"
Surprised, you respond "Oh - the shop next door sells computers for £199. They can't be much different. I think I'll go there."
Now what's wrong with this scenario?
Not all computers are of the same quality.
Not all computers suit the job you want them to do.
Not all shops offer the same level of service and aftercare.
So, why is it that when buying oak flooring, so many people say "I'd like an oak floor. Where's the cheapest place I can get one?".
Jim Gould, President of The Floor Covering Institute in the USA, has raised precisely this point in a recent post on his blog.
He fears the commoditisation of flooring products and blames the industry for not pointing out the particular features and benefits of different flooring, allowing consumers to see flooring as "all the same".
Now we've been banging on for years about how discount shops and so called flooring wholesalers are damaging the image of oak flooring by selling packs containing short lengths of low quality timber on the basis that "it's oak, so it must be good".
Please don't fall prey to this misconception.
The quality of oak flooring varies massively even from timber sourced from the same forest, let alone from different countries.
The density of the grain, the age and condition of the tree, the colour, the accuracy of the machining performed by the timber mill, the storage, the transport, the advice you receive from the supplier - all of these things go into producing the finished oak floor in your home.
If you need an oak floor for your garden shed, then by all means pop into a discount store for your timber, but for your living room or your children's bedroom?