Commercial Flooring - Wholesale or Retail?

By: Robert Thomson

In the flooring market, buyers find themselves needing to choose between buying their flooring wholesale or through a retailer. Buying retail is a great idea - if you're an enthusiastic do-it-yourself homeowner with a single room to remodel. But if you're a contractor or property manager with needs on a larger scale, you're likely to find the price of your materials spiraling rapidly out of control when shopping at a retailer. Flooring retailers just aren't set up to accommodate the larger volume needed in commercial flooring.

A wholesale flooring company expects that you'll need to buy more, and can offer commensurately lower prices because they get their stock direct from the factory. Wholesalers make their money on the volume of flooring material you need to buy, and on your repeat business. That's why it's important to choose your wholesaler carefully when buying flooring wholesale: you'll be buying a lot from them, so you need to make sure you're getting the value and service you need.

Choosing a Wholesale Supplier

First, do your research. The Better Business Bureau's rating can tell you a lot about the supplier's business practices, whether any complaints have been lodged against them, and how those issues were resolved. You can find customer reviews of many companies online as well, which is important as you may not have friends or colleagues with experience with that supplier. If you find a wholesaler that seems reliable, arrange to pay a visit to their warehouse so you can inspect the quality of their flooring personally.


The supplier's selection should be varied enough to meet whatever traffic and design needs you have, and should consist of well-known and reliable brands. If a flooring wholesale supplier stocks an "exclusive brand" and purports to offer the lowest price on it, that claim doesn't mean much if they're the only one selling it. Often it's the flooring manufacturer - not the wholesaler - that backs the warranty on flooring materials, so make sure the supplier offers brands that you trust.


The wholesaler should be knowledgeable about the flooring materials they offer, and answer questions about them honestly. While a major reason to buy flooring wholesale is the price, going straight for the cheapest option isn't always wise, because it might not be sturdy enough to stand up to your traffic requirements. If you know the general parameters of the flooring you need but haven't fully determined the material you want, the supplier should be able to help you compare different types of flooring and determine what suits your needs best.


A flooring wholesale supplier wants you to keep coming back to them for future business, so their customer service should be top-notch. They should be willing and prepared to answer all your questions about the flooring material that you buy, anticipating questions you might have and offering advice on routine maintenance and care, or on streamlining the flooring installation process. The wholesaler should make online ordering easy and convenient, for customers who have already inspected their stock and know exactly what they need. Financing options should be available as a show of strong customer relations to encourage repeat business. Not all wholesale suppliers offer installation services (which may be something you wish to consider when choosing a wholesaler), but if they do, the company should back their installation with a warranty of one year at minimum, and keep costs to the customer low.

If you're a property manager or contractor with large-scale or frequent flooring needs, the choice between retail and wholesale is an easy one, but choosing a wholesale flooring supplier takes a little more work.

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Andrew White writes about shopping for flooring wholesale or retail and other home improvement topics out of Seattle. Always looking for the highest quality materials at the best price he tends to end up shopping at more often than not.

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