Samples let you see how products look in different light, let you feel their weight and texture, and give you a much better sense of how the product is built. Many companies ship free or low-cost samples. Even if you have to pay a few bucks, it’s totally worth it.

Samples Samples Samples Samples

Photo 1: Samples of engineered hardwood flooring. Good vinyl and laminate look almost identical to real wood in the low light of a big box store, but in natural light the real wood has a lot more depth. (Not to knock vinyl, it’s great stuff too!)

Photo 2: Fiber cement siding from James Hardie. I haven’t decided what color(s) the house will be yet, but seeing the actual product is so much better than looking on screens. It’s amazing how different the colors look on my phone, laptop, and monitor. The siding will be the most visible part of the house’s exterior–definitely worth getting it right.

Photo 3: Ecowarm in-floor radient heat panel. A competitor had knocked Ecowarm panels online for being flimsy, but the sample reassured me that it’s a substantial product.

Photo 4: Painted metal disks from woodstove maker Woodstock Soapstone. I was going to get a black stove with red trim around the window, but after seeing the samples I switched to a black stove with trim in “sand.” Who knew that sand would actually be a nice light silver?

Photos taken June 7, 2019. Posted June 8, 2019.

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