Send off for samples before you buy building materials


Don't decide from a catalogue. Request samples to get a sense of what materials look like in person.

Always request samples when you buy materials online or out of a catalog, says veterinary architect Dan Chapel, AIA, owner of Chapel Associates Architects in Little Rock, Ark. Otherwise, you could get stuck with a truckload of something you end up hating. “It’s one thing to buy a coffee maker online,” Chapel says. “It’s another thing to buy 5,000 square feet of flooring.”

Request the largest sample you can get for finishes such as flooring, stonework, and countertops, Chapel says. Once you’ve received the sample, ask your contractor to go to work. If you want to see a flooring sample, have the contractor lay a 3-foot-by-3-foot sample and make sure it meets your needs and tastes. If it does, use that sample as the benchmark for what the rest of the flooring work should look like, and make sure workers match it exactly.

One final tip: View all of your samples under the appropriate lighting conditions to get a true sense of how they’ll look.

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