The perils of buying flooring 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 flooring 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.



The environment in your home dictates what type of floor can or cannot be used. Important factors include:  whether or not a sound control underlayment is needed, whether or not the home has radiant heat, whether or not the occupants use mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, 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 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 and your needs who can look at the home, assess the condition of the structure and subfloor, consult the manufacturer’s installation and warranty guidelines, 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.



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.



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.



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

Flooring products often feature significant variation in color, grain pattern, 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 often choose to sell cheaper products that, while apparently equal in their listed specifications, may be made to inferior quality standards. A few examples of corners that are sometimes cut:

  • Low stone content in stone composite flooring. Real stone composite flooring, also referred to as Stone Plastic Composite (SPC), can vary dramatically in stone content from one manufacturer to the next. Lower stone content means less dent resistance and less resistance to changes in temperature. (Note: to assess the heat stability of a product, ask for the results of its ASTM 2199 Heat Stability Test, expressed as a specific percentage. Then compare to GemCore Stone Composite!)
  •  Inadequate protective coatings.There is a wide range of scratch resistance and overall durability among different coatings used by stone composite (SPC) and LVT manufacturers. The fact that two products have the same wear layer thickness and similar warranties does not mean they will perform the same.
  • Use of Harmful Chemicals. All stone composite (SPC) and LVT products are made with plasticizers. Some manufacturers use harmful ortho-phthalates for this purpose.

We hope this information helps educate you on your upcoming project and we invite you to search through our widerange of floorshere 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 here to find a GemCore dealer in your area.