If there is one thing for sure about flooring in Hawaii, it is that the market is very competitive, and even when you narrow it down, there are a multitude of products and installers to choose from. Then you have salespeople, many of them with very poor product knowledge, coming at you with confusing facts and figures, and pressuring you to buy. It’s enough to make a person say, “The heck with this! I’ll gladly stick with my 20-year-old carpet for a little longer!”

But there is help. If you are building new, remodeling or just freshening up, Shirley Pai Hilton of Pacific Imports International would like to help you with some unbiased information on products and installation so that you can make the most informative choice.


Hilton says the first thing to remember is to always buy quality in your price range. The old adage of getting what you pay for applies doubly in a competitive market. Vendors will try to get your attention and money by offering an amazingly low price, but that’s because they didn’t pay much for it either.

Hardiness and longevity are usually what’s sacrificed when one is looking for a floor, but what good does it do if you have to buy another floor in just a few years? No one is saying to purchase a real wood floor when you can’t afford it, but you should shop for a quality laminate to give you years of satisfaction.

So what should homeowners do? For starters, seek out long warranties on materials, preferably around 25 years. For another, look for integrity with the company you are dealing with. You may have a written contract, but good customer service is usually not one of the listed contractual obligations.


Additionally, find out about the owners’ backgrounds. The Better Business Bureau is one place to start. You can also do your own cost-free sleuthing with a quick check on Google or Hoohiki.

It is also interesting to note that knowledgeable salespeople are a direct reflection of the company’s openness and attention to detail. That person should be able to offer you good information that will help you make an informed decision. Always walk away from high-pressuring, badgering-type salespeople who call or text you incessantly. They definitely don’t have your best interests at heart.

Hilton recommends that before venturing out into the Hawaii flooring forest, homeowners should get a basic education on flooring by attending her Wood and Stone Flooring 101 seminar, now held monthly because of popular demand. The 90-minute session will give you the tools to begin chopping through that forest and really seeing the trees (no pun intended).


Pacific Imports’ next seminar will be held Saturday, June 18 at 10 a.m. at the company showroom, located at 926 Kohou St. Call 847-7711 to reserve a seat.


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