By Fabian Sandler
Even though it is the middle of summer, the holidays are just four months away. Extended family will come to visit. Festivities will be scheduled. Homeowners are beginning to consider remodeling their abode. But what should be done first? It is time to bring new life to the castle by putting in new floors. But what type? Real wood? Tile? Carpet? A dilemma is forming. What is needed is a consultation from experts in the field.
Clif Currin, his sister Marcie, his son Sean are these experts. Showcase Carpets and Floors has been around for decades in Kingwood, and Clif and Sean have owned the business for the past nine years.
Katie is the showroom product expert. She always finds the best options at each price point and she can tell you her personal favorites.
“Katie is excellent when it comes to design advice, color decisions, what the trends are, what customers are choosing,” Sean asserts. “And I always recommend for the customer to take the samples home because the products might look different in their house, in their lighting.”
“When you come into our store, we are immediately going to see how we can help you,” Clif says. “Katie will try to find out what your interests and lifestyle are, from the standpoint of do you have kids, do you have dogs, is this a new house, are you trying to sell the house, to help you select between the hundreds of options available.”
“People typically buy flooring less frequently than they buy cars,” Clif points out. “There is a common misconception that you’ll save money by going to the big box stores versus somebody like us,” Clif continues. “The advertising that big box stores do leads people to have the impression that they get better pricing there. Our experience is that you’ll get the same or better pricing in most cases from the specialty, family-owned business. Plus, the advantage is that you’ll know who to talk to from beginning to end of the project, whereas some of the larger ones have a separate installation department apart from the sales.”
Sean expounds that while the other stores may advertise carpet on sale for ninety-nine cents a square foot, people may not realize that they will also have to pay for installation, carpet pad, a fee for moving furniture and another fee for disposal of the old carpet. “It’s the gimmick of the special price to get you into the store. As a family-owned business we prefer not to have to deal with the kind of frustration that you’re going to feel if we give you a lowball price first and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, you also need pad under that carpet.’ When you walk through our door and you know some rough room dimensions, we can quickly give you a good-faith ballpark estimate of all the costs involved. Nobody likes being blindsided, and if I were the customer, I’d feel more comfortable seeing that.”
Clif or Marcie can then follow with a complimentary measurement at the home. “It’s beyond just getting measurements, though. It’s also an evaluation of the type of floor we are putting in, making sure everything is compatible and that we have the right materials for the best result,” Marcie explains. “Each home is unique. We need to consider things like what type of transitions are best when adjoining two kinds of floors, or sometimes even if there is a product that wasn’t considered which might be better for the customer.”
Clif asserts, “We also try to let the customer know what happens, and when, and the total duration of the project. Single rooms are pretty straightforward, but if you’re doing a whole house or the entire downstairs, proper planning can allow people to live in their house without much disruption.”
Marcie, Clif and Sean are sensitive to customers’ tastes. Marcie states that customers tend to want to match flooring to the color of their walls, furniture, countertops, even bed sheets, while Clif points out that the trend in color schemes has gone beyond yellow and brown and now includes tones in gray, pastel and taupe. Sean agrees, “Antique grays are popular in urban areas, as well.”
The installation process is a critical component of Showcase’s business. “Professional installation you can trust is our motto,” Marcie adds.
All of our craftsmen have keys to the shop. “I cannot overstate the amount of trust we have in them,” Sean emphasizes.
“Most of our business is in homes that are being lived in, and that takes special skills” Sean continues. “We are much more careful and cleaner than the people doing new construction. The reason people come to us is because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of anything that may pop up. We have the tools and experience to take care of it quickly and correctly.”
When asked the proverbial question, why customers would choose Showcase Carpets and Floors over another store, Clif smiles and says, “Customer service, craftsmen that have been with us for a long time, our ability to work in homes that people are living in and the pride we take with each finished project. Every job we do is an advertisement for our business.”
So what’s new in the market today? “Historically, wood has been the luxury floor that residences go after, because it is warm, it is natural, it is beautiful,” Clif intones.
Sean says the biggest trend in wood is to go with as wide a plank as possible. “Wood now comes in nine-inch wide and six-foot long planks. On the other hand, a few years ago they came out with mixed-width hardwood planks. They said, ‘Let’s put a three, plus a five, plus a seven inch down.’ That spices it up, and customers have agreed. The mixed-width products are our best-sellers,” he states.
“Wood has its own limitations, however,” Clif adds. “While it’s the most luxurious, wood and water do not play well together. “There are new alternatives that give you the wood look that can be used in water-prone areas or in the entire house. The most durable alternative is tile.”
“The wood-looking tiles have evolved very rapidly over the past four years,” Sean explains. “They’ve really been around for twenty years but always looked fake. Today, they look amazing. Many of our customers tell us their friends compliment them on their beautiful wood floor when it is indeed tile. The reason why the new wood-look porcelains can do that is improved technology in production, in particular the printing of the pattern and the grain texture lines on it.”
Clif relates a story depicting how well tile looks like wood. “We did an entire downstairs in one of the premier wood-looking tiles, and we had a piano moving company move the baby grand out and in. When they were replacing the piano, they said, ‘We need piano cups to protect this wood floor from this piano.’ And we said, ‘Probably not.’ He said, ‘I can assure you that you need these cups or you’re going to dent the wood.’ Then he tapped the floor and realized it was tile.”
Another wood alternative is a new category called engineered vinyl plank, or EVP for short. EVP is a superb, durable product for high-traffic areas and water resistance. It is a solid rigid-core vinyl plank that interlocks together very similar to laminate. “It has the lifelike appearance of wood, none of its detractions, and is an excellent solution for wet environments. It’s been growing faster than any other flooring product in the last two years,” Clif relates. “An active family with a swimming pool would be well suited to go with an EVP product.”
When Katie, the showroom product expert, needed an upgrade, she knew the perfect answer. She recently installed about six hundred square feet of the new EVP for her home. “I love it. It’s like the best investment I ever spent, because we have a pretty busy house with two girls, two cats and a dog. They are sliding stuff over it and pouring jugs of water on it.”
“We continue to do a lot of carpet as well,” Marcie says. “It’s popular for bedrooms and playrooms, and it’s certainly cost-effective. The new carpets are ultra-soft on your feet, and they’re great for muffling sound from upstairs. The stain resistance has gotten significantly better today,” Marcie continues.
“Oh, and don’t forget, Showcase also does bath, shower remodels and tub surrounds,” Marcie states.
Showcase Carpets and Floors is a member of the Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce and supports local organizations and schools. They donate surplus carpet samples and twelve-foot long cardboard carpet tubes to schools for mats and theater projects. If you need one, give them a call because they might have extras on hand.
The store is located at 1401 Northpark Drive in Kingwood. Store hours are 9 AM to 5:30 PM Mondays through Fridays, and 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturdays. The telephone number is 281-354-5522. Look for them at www.showcasecarpets.com. The store gladly accepts credit card payments, but offers a two percent discount if payment is done by cash or check.
So, when you are looking to remodel, Showcase Carpets is there to help and make sure your floor stands up to hot chocolate and marshmallows come Christmastime.