Is it Wood or Vinyl?

Only Matt Ange May Know For Sure!

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Celeste Linthicum

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Because Loudoun Valley Floors is celebrating its 30th year in business in Loudoun County, they’ve seen a lot of flooring trends come and go. We sat down with one of the four partners, Matt Ange, in their massive Ashburn showroom to see what’s new for home owners.

“The biggest growing trend would be luxury vinyl planks, most of them with hard wood visuals,” says Matt Ange. “They’re made on a waterproof platform so you can put a wood visual throughout your home – whether it be in a bathroom, a basement, or a laundry room – and it’s waterproof! It’s very dent resistant, scratch resistant – it’s just a very durable floor, so it checks all the boxes for the needs of most folks and it’s a nice warm look. If you put a wood visual in a bedroom or basement, it has a warmer look and feel than carpet, and at half the price of wood flooring,” he adds. He believes it’s suitable for all areas in the home and that today’s buyers like it because it’s dog friendly.

Six or seven years ago, vinyl that looked like hardwood was a specialty product used primarily in commercial environments. “Because it’s no longer a specialty product, prices are about the same as a medium to high-grade carpet, installed. So, you can get a high-grade wood visual at about half the cost of what hard wood would cost you and it looks very similar,” Matt said.

Because customers are becoming more ecologically aware, Matt says, “I have to say that all the major manufacturers are very green-conscious. Some of the hard-wood manufacturers that we deal with in particular are vertically integrated. They own the forest of trees from which they make the floor. They cut the trees from their property, or leased property; they kiln dry the wood, and the sawdust and leftovers are used to fire their kilns so they’re using that product for energy. There’s no waste when they make their hardwood.”

For carpeting, some manufacturers recycle old carpet to make new carpet. “PET Polyester is very popular and that’s the same type of polyester that they make the plastic water bottles out of,” Matt says. “It’s highly recyclable and can be recycled many times over. Mohawk has a product where the whole carpet – the fiber, the backing, everything about it – is made out of recyclable material. That is very unique in the industry.” Among other desirable benefits, it’s very easy to clean and inherently stain resistant and colorfast. “You can pour bleach on some of these color fibers and it does not take any color out of them,” Matt adds.

As for other flooring trends, most start on the West coast and can take 18 months to two years before they’re in vogue here on the East coast. Flooring R&D people know this, so Matt’s showroom often has samples for these forward-facing looks long before they are trending here. “Sometimes we get these crazy colors and patterns and we’re scratching our heads thinking, ‘Why are you showing me these? This will not be a good seller.’And they say, ‘Just give it time; it’s coming this way.’ As sure as the sun comes up, they do come into style, though sometimes they don’t last very long.” 

One trend sure to last, though, is what he calls “ease of living.” When the pandemic hit, sales dipped, but by July, people who had been forced to live in and work out of their homes 24-7 were looking to change things up in their interior. Some had a fixed idea of what they’re looking for, but probably didn’t appreciate the sheer range of options available until they started to communicate with Loudoun Valley Floors. 

“Off the top of my head, I’d say there are 30 manufacturers that are represented in the store here, between carpet, luxury vinyl plank and hardwood,” Matt says. “It can be a little overwhelming, so we like to have a little sit-down with customers and talk through their options. It sets their mind at ease and takes a weight off their shoulders that they don’t have to look through all these samples!”

Because showroom visits are by appointment only during COVID restrictions, the shopping process begins with an online questionnaire to get an idea of whether customers are looking for hardwood or carpet, Matt explains. Then a very short conversation regarding colors and designs, eliminates 95 percent of choices so sales consultants can offer a more laser focused approach to options that meet customers’ criteria.

And what options! We could have spent the day just ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the selections. “There are very high-end visuals in all the flooring lines we carry,” Matt said with too much humility. “We have designer carpet prints; luxury vinyl plank; wide-width, long-length visuals in vinyl; long length rustic visuals in hardwood... Those are among your higher-end investments.”  Not everyone has the same vision for their home, he added. “Many want a casual look, but we can provide a nice, plush carpet with a low pattern to it, or we can direct them to one of the Canadian-made hardwoods, which have a very durable finish on them. They have a nice clean look. It just depends – every customer is a little bit different!”

Once carpeting is installed, customers can rely on their sister company, Loudoun Carpet Care, which the partners started in 1991. Because the partners touch so many aspects of the business personally, the vast majority of clients have some contact with one of the owners at some point in their flooring journey. “We go out and do the in-home measurements, and sometimes we’re working with the clients in the showroom. So even though we have 24 employees total, one of the four owners usually has some form of contact with our clients,” Matt says.

More importantly, “We hold ourselves, our employees, everybody to a very high standard. What sets us apart in the flooring business is customer service. Anybody can start a flooring store – they can stock the samples and sell the product – but it’s the follow-through that matters...  We love working with manufacturers who stand behind their products. It gives the customer a nice warm feeling that, if they don’t like it there is always something they can do about it. We want you to feel good about your purchase.”

Customers can also feel good about patronizing a community-engaged company like Loudoun Valley Floors and Loudoun Carpet Care. Both not only offer teachers and first responders a standing 10 percent discount, but the former has donated flooring and/or installation services in helping to build the first four homes for HeroHomes (see story, p. x), several homes for Loudoun Habitat For Humanity (https://LoudounHabitat.org) and one for the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (https://www.lcsj.org). “Anyone who reaches out to us, we usually try to find a way to work with them,” Matt says; “We try to do our part in the community.”

Visit Loudoun Valley Floors (https://www.loudounvalleyfloors.com/) in either Ashburn (20700 Loudoun County Pkwy #156, Ashburn, VA 20147) or Purcellville (129 N Bailey Ln Suite C, Purcellville, VA 20132), but during COVID, please remember to first make an appointment!

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