The Endless Choice of Floor Coverings

The Lady and I are in the end of the process of selecting floor boards for the downstairs of our house. The carpet is wearing thin, is stained and damaged and we’d like something nice under our feet. It’s not very frugal but there’s money in the budge and we’ve already paid for the fitter – just one problem… Which bloody floorboards to choose!!!

Flooring is not very sexy or interesting but we all have them and you maybe haven’t thought much about them before. Our problem is that they are all so similar that it’s hard to know exactly what you want and even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll like them once they are down. First world problems or what?

Rough numbers

For those of you who have not done this sort of thing before, floors generally need to be covered with something – carpet, floorboards, grass and straw or sawdust are all popular choices but we’ve decided to go for engineered wood. The area of the downstairs needs about 95m2 of flooring.

  • Flooring @ £35/m2 for 95m2 = £3.325 (includes delivery)
  • Fitting @~£12/m2 for 95m2 = £1,140
  • Plywood @ ~£10/m2 for 95m2 = £1000
  • Beading and steps = £360
  • VAT @20% = ~£500
  • Total cost = £6,325

The Justification

The Master trying to help one day, ironing the carpet

The main reason for getting the floors done is that the current carpet/flooring is getting old and tatty. We could have put in new floors when we bought the house, but waiting four years has meant that we have saved some money, saved on the depreciation/damage of the future flooring and the carpet has stopped the kids from hurting themselves too much. But it needs to go sadly.

It’s a lot of money to spend – so we want to do it right and get a good quality floor that we are happy with. But it’s not easy. The tyranny of choice is that there is just so much. You can get oat, maple, ash, walnut, cherry, pine or bamboo. You can get real wood, engineered wood, laminate. There’s different lengths and even herring bone or parquet flooring. With engineered wood there’s the choice of thickness, 12//4, 16/3, 12.5/2.5, 20/6, 18/5mm – it’s bloody confusing.

And then there’s the choice of colour, black, coffee, golden, grey, natural, smoked, unfinished, white. Great but what about finish? Brushed & lacquered, brushed & matt lacquered, brushed & oiled, distresssed, handscraped, lacquered, oiled, rustic aged, unfinished.

So we are stuck between selecting a (and I kid you not) coffee distressed oil (20/6mm), golden distressed oil (with micro bevelled edges) (15/4mm), golden smoked oak distressed (15/4mm), black coffee oak distressed (15/4mm), golden oak oiled distressed (15/4mm) and finally smoked distressed oak (14/3mm). It’s a tough choice! But also maybe meaningless?

For me, I like the look of some but the texture is just as important – I don’t want something that I’ll always be slipping around on in the house – so it’s got to have a bit of grip and I like the naturalness of the grain of wood. So hopefully we’ll choose on or the other before long. Fitter comes on the 21st of September – so we don’t have much time left to make our selection!

What I would say is that having all the choice is great. We have more than 30 different samples. But choice is not great for making a decision. We all end up in just analysis paralysis – when to be honest, any one of the samples that we have would be a great choice.

The frontrunners

Choice doesn’t make choosing any easier

Not even all the samples that we have

So we have the money and can find someone to do the work and we want it done – great. How come selecting just one from the many options that we have is so difficult? It shouldn’t be like this, shouldn’t it?

We have managed to get a wide range of samples from two different suppliers. Their prices are very competitive and cheaper than retail outlets where we live. Also, our fitter was more than happy with us to supply the flooring and he’d fit. That mad the procurement process quite straightforward. Except for one small problem. WHICH BLOODY ONE TO CHOOSE?????

Luckily, I quite like reading about pyschology and books about human behaviour. Choice is something we are faced with all the time and most of our choices are automatic and can be steered. Some help can come from learning about how your brain works and how as consumers we are influenced in what we buy, how much we spend and what we choose. And there’s a book by Richard Shotton called the Choice Factory that I have just read that gives a bit of information as to what’s going on! It’s well worth a read, even if you are not getting your floors done.

Unfortunately, as insightful as the book is it doesn’t help you choose anything as difficult as floorboards but there’s some useful information on the application of behavioural economics to marketing and how there’s never been a more dangerous time to be a consumer when the world is alive with so much effort going into manufacturing all the cravings of consumerism.

GFF the stupid consumer?

It does make me think – am I right in wanting new floorboard and will it make me £6,000 happier? I am not sure. I would like to live in a nice house and there’s always the thought that spending on home improvements will increase the value of the property – help out the sinking housing equity.

But there’s more a case that you need to spend this money on living – it’s cost of living and I’d rather spend the money on something nice that’ll last 25 years than spend it on something cheap that will need replaced in 5.

So, I haven’t solved the problem of which floor covering to choose. I’m also not happy at being a target for marketers – but what I do hope is that when we get the new floorboards in, I’ll not have buyers remorse and that is why we are being very careful in our selection process. One thing is for sure, too much choice is a killer!

Thanks, GFF



  1. Hah, this post reminded me of when I was getting new worktops and tiling for my kitchen a few years back.

    To avoid analysis-paralysis, I narrowed down to just 3 samples of each very quickly, so in the end, it was almost a case of ‘eeny-meeny’ to choose (although I did get opinion from the family on them too).

    There is just so much choice these days, with everything.

    I was picking up ice cream recently in the supermarket – when I was a child, there were only pretty much 3 or 4 options – plain vanilla in a tub, random ice lollies, Arctic Roll, or Viennetta, all in one freezer in the supermarket, never mind a whole aisle dedicated to the stuff!

    So many different flavours now, so many brands. I went for the Viennetta as it was on offer 🙂

    Anyway, good luck with your decision!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And as ti what’s on offer – we did choose one that was a favourite with both of us – went to buy to just get it over with and guess what? Sold out and nit available elsewhere for love nor (lots of) money.
      C’est la vie


  2. We prefer carpets. We liked their arrestor-wire character when an offspring sledged down the stairs on a plastic-coated mattress. Which happened often. You read ’em a story, they’d coorie doon, and once your back was turned they’d haul the mattress to the top of the stairs. The joys of parenthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Had the same situation last year doing up our house. Eventually went for the natural 14/6 engineered oak. Wide board, micro bevel and grade A and it’s been well worth it. Neutral tone means there’s no conflict with future decor choices 🙂
    Lovely feel to it – really solid and should last decades. DIYd it though. All the skirting was being replaced anyway so avoided beading etc
    Yes it’s a lot of money and may not add much if anything to the house value, but you will like it and it will probably make the house easier to sell if you’re moving 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope you manage to haggle the price down too. We asked shop to match price of another equivalent quality wood from different shop that was uglier colour. We used the Wooden floor store three years ago and got Pyrenees oak for our Victorian house. It was hard for the fitter to decide whether to align the floorboards with the wonky old wall or the crooked fireplace.


    1. Haha – we have some potential problems with non aligned surfaces and features but hopefully nothing too bad.

      On haggling, we really wanted the fitter that got as he had the experience and expertise for our type if house.
      We price checked with other people to get a gauge on price and got him at a good price (I think)

      The chosen wood is another story.
      It’s arriving today – hopefully we like it


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