New floor doesn’t have to break your budget

Homeowners seeking an affordable way to significantly increase the value of their homes should glance down beneath their feet.

Floors are among the largest surfaces in a home and have a dramatic effect on the look and feel of each room.

Fortunately, fine floors don’t have to pull the rug out from under your budget. That’s because unsurpassed durability and ultra-realistic designs and textures are available with laminate flooring at lower prices than traditional solid wood and stone tiles, according to flooring experts.

They offer the following “lessons” for finding the best value in laminate floors:

• Value is more important than price.

To get the most for your home-improvement dollars, consider everything from product quality and features to the extent of the manufacturer’s warranty coverage, the store’s return policy, installation assistance and access to ongoing customer service if needed.

Offers that seem too good to be true may mean closeout, excess product or flooring manufactured from offshore resources, risking the warranty protection.

• Know what you buy.

While all laminate flooring brands promise durability and installation ease, for the best overall value, experts advise shoppers to go with established brands known for quality and innovation.

One well-known company offers scratch protection; fold-down joints for faster, easier installation; and multilayered, embossed in-register texturing for ultra-realistic designs that look and feel remarkably like real wood.

• Think beyond the boards.

Choose a retailer with a wide selection of decórs, products and prices.

If you’re not planning to install the floor yourself, make sure you deal with a store that provides the installation services of a professional contractor and will guarantee the quality of the work.