Image IS Everything

First impressions are irreversible and most people strive to deliver the best impression not only in regards to themselves but the car they drive and the home in which they live. Most of us don’t have a picture perfect “Martha Stewart” home in which our floors sparkle as the sun shines and every item is in its place. What we do have is a family home with a lived-in flair. Despite having children, pets and sometimes a sloppy spouse we still want our homes to convey a stylish image which our friends and family admire.

While helping in a home improvement project, I realized the laminates I was using looked like a reprint of an old magazine. To better explain, I’ll need to share my experience.

A few years ago my better half, June, and I went over to my father-in-laws house to help him with weekly chores. My father-in-law who’s in his seventies, is a widower. I was working on a project when June went to the lower level to start laundry. I suddenly heard June screaming for me to come to the basement immediately. As I reached the bottom of the stairs I stepped onto wet carpet, and immediately knew what was wrong. Apparently the sub pump failed and the basement took in water (although the last rain storm was; 10 days ago, just after our last visit). Not only was the carpet wet but water seeped up the walls. This was the start of another project.

We realized it’s not too long before we will have to sell the home, so we decided to give the basement a facelift, which will increase the home’s value and make it easier to sell in a few years. Junk was thrown out, the walls were repaired and painted, and we added new ceiling lights. We decided to install laminate in the family room since it’s stylish, desirable and durable. However we didn’t want to spend a lot of money. After all, the room isn’t used much anymore and only has to look good for a couple open houses until it sells.

So I went out and bought the least expensive laminate I could find (I didn’t care about quality just price). As I began laying the floor, June came downstairs to see my progress. When I was getting ready to install the next plank, June told me I couldn’t use that board because it had a “butterfly” and I already had a “butterfly” on the floor. I was utterly confused, what butterfly? I soon realized June was talking about a “wood knot” in the laminate.

For those of you who don’t know, Laminate is actually a board with a photograph on top of a board. The photograph is covered with a protective top coat. Finally understanding what June meant by a butterfly, I agreed that I didn’t want to have two identical boards next to each other, so I reached into the box and pulled out another board. Now being conscious of the images, I was looking at each plank. I soon realized that the affordable laminate had ONLY four different images. No matter how I tried to lay down the planks it was obvious that there were only four different images (four different patterns). I felt like I was looking at a checker board.

Later, I learned that higher end products offer more images. While multiple images makes a floor look more natural, it also costs more to manufacturer which is why some companies choose to only have a minimum number of images.

Had this been my home, both June and I would be embarrassed and would pray every time we had guest over that they not notice the low grade laminate we installed. Since my experience, I find myself looking at floors to see if any of the boards are identical or how many different boards there are. As the number of photographs increases the more natural and realistic a floor appears.

Having learned a valuable lesson, when I need to do another laminate floor in the future, I’ll know to ask how many different images the flooring has. After all, image is everything.

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