If you've ever looked into tile prices, you probably know that materials can destroy your renovation budget in no time. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the prices on some of the beautiful tiles popping up in Pinterest. Honestly, who is out there paying 50, 75, or 100 bucks and up, per square foot? (And when the manufacturer website doesn't even tell you the price, you know the old saying is true—if you have to ask, well, you can't afford it.)
That being said, tile can have a huge impact on a space, so that's not necessarily where you want to scrimp, is it? The good news: If you know where to shop, you can find delicious-looking tile at a fraction of the cost of high-end specialty shops. Say hello to Floor & Decor.
This Southern-based chain of stores promises super cheap prices, and delivers. To get the scoop, I talked with the Louisville tile installer who recently worked on our bathroom reno. Corey Cottrell of High Fidelity Tile has been sourcing materials at Floor & Decor for several years, beginning when he worked in Austin, Texas. He'd go across town for their selection and price for his clients, and that was his go-to store for his own remodel. So when one opened in Louisville, he was thrilled.
"I'm a big fan and recommend it to pretty much everyone I work with," Cottrell said. "They're good at staying on trend and finding a more affordable option."
Cottrell was nice enough to take time out of a day of tiling to answer some burning questions.
Is Floor & Decor really that cheap?
In a word: yes. "The prices are exponentially less" than at a specialty tile shop, Cottrell said. For his own home, he paid about half the price for a large format tile versus what he and his wife found online.
Equally important, their pricing is transparent. At a specialty shop, "There's this voodoo magic where you don't know where these prices are coming from," he said, but "Pricing is the same across the board at Floor & Decor." Meaning there's no contractor discount—you pay the same price, whether you're a DIYer or full time tile installer. As to those much higher prices at the specialty shops, "I get the impression there are a lot more people in offices with salaries that need to be paid," he said.
What's the catch?
Yes, the prices are way low, but take note: "I think that's also reflected in the quality," Cottrell said. "I haven't seen anything so bad I wouldn't put it in. It's just some of it isn't as nice as what you'd pay for [elsewhere]."
What's the shopping experience?
This is not your curated tile showroom. "It's an absolutely monstrous building," Cottrell said. "It's set up like a giant warehouse that you can rummage through." Unlike, say Lowe's or Home Depot, where you might have two or three aisles of tile options, these stores are massive, with a selection that can actually be overwhelming.
What's nice is they have tile on display so you're not necessarily "blindly looking around," Cottrell said. You can get ideas and inspiration from their mock-ups, and free design help is also available with an appointment.
Floor & Decor reflects a shift in how we're approaching work on our homes, Cottrell said.
"It seems like a lot of [specialty shops] like to rely on interior designers or someone in the know, as opposed to letting people DIY. [That approach] gets back to an older way of doing construction, as opposed to everybody doing things themselves now. [Floor & Decor] almost feels more democratic." And beyond that, "People have been exceptionally nice and helpful, whereas walking into the specialty shop, even as contractor, you almost have to prove yourself. I don't have time or headspace for that when at Floor & Decor everyone is as welcoming and nice as possible."
And thanks to their behemoth selection and inventory, "If you call them up and tell them everything you need they'll have it for you within an hour," Cotrell said. "I pull up in my van and it's waiting."
Also nice? Their return policy. "If you don't use anything you can return it with no restocking fee," Cottrell said, "So you can get more just in case. A lot of times at other place even if you can return it they charge a restocking fee. I just find them easier to deal with."
That said, there can be inconsistencies in orders, he cautioned. "I have done jobs with Floor & Decor that came short because the boxes didn't have as much as we were expecting. I've learned to watch your boxes, and do your count carefully." So it's better to be safe, he said, and order extra.
What's the final verdict?
"For most jobs, clients are not doing anything mind-blowing," Cottrell said. "They're just trying to make their house look nice, they want something very basic and Floor & Decor is exceptional for that—basic stuff that's very appealing and all at affordable prices. It's the price of their tile and their selection that keep me coming back."