First off – apology for dropping off last week. There were some issues with scheduled blog posts (namely this one) wanting to post draft versions or previous versions. It was something that couldn’t be attended to until the weekend so blogging sort of dropped off for the week. BUT as always time to fix and move on! Martha is traveling to the lovely Palm Springs this week and took the Monday off to prep for more posts and to also enjoy the warm weather. I can’t say I blame her – this week is panning out to be one of those serious winter blues weeks around here. Hard not to be depressed about another 6″ of new snow. Will it ever end?! With the rambling done, time to move on. FLOORING!

This is a big determining factor for most first time exhibitors. To floor or not to floor. I got some great advice from Nole over as OSBP last year when prepping for my first show. She indicated that as a press attendee, not only is the look and design of the booth important (including branding) but the flooring is equally important. Her thoughts were that it makes a booth more inviting, and inclines buyers to stay awhile (especially with sore feet). Walking the show floor can get tiring and well thought out floor plan can really help a buyer to step in to have a look around. After exhibiting my first year, I’m SO happy I splurged but as I’ve been looking around this year I’m finding ways to save that I didn’t consider before.

Price, Price, Price
I think a big thing for a first time exhibitor is to look legit. I know I wanted to have a very pulled together booth and when I decided to go with flooring I of course went the Flor route. I was able to find a goldenrod medium pile set of tiles on clearance for $11.99/tile. For an 8×10′ booth this ended up roughly being $450. There was a coupon that I added to the total knocking the price down to $325 plus free shipping. Look for those discounts – they will SAVE! The DISADVANTAGE of buying a weird color or unique pattern though (or buying something on clearance) is that you risk not being able to replace it. I had three tiles tear at the end of the show last year. They are irreplaceable. So I’m exploring flooring options again this year. There’s a possibility I might just paint them and buy three more random tiles on clearance from Flor, or I might go with something new. Try to keep the three Rs in mind when considering flooring : REST, REPLACEMENT, RECYCLE.

Below is a pinboard (click to link through) of some unconventional as well as standard flooring options. I mostly pinned options that would fit what I’m working on for my booth this year, but also some inspiring options that could work for multiple years.

Some of my favorites were the DIY options.

Cheap laminate flooring can go a long way over the years. They can be dressed up with vinyl patterns, masking tape, and paint. They are very inexpensive and thin = lightweight for shipping. Installation would be a breeze too. I love the idea of the herringbone floor and custom glazing as imaged above with just a regular planked laminate floor. The variation in color would be so awesome if you are having a simple wall treatment.

This can be expensive in some ways. If you decide to dedicate a rug from home, make sure you are ready to withstand the elements. Last year it rained the whole week. My carpet was disgusting after the show (another reason to paint over it). If you invest in a high-pile carpet it can be harder to clean year after year (especially if your are not shipping back and forth but instead, storing on site). With that said, carpet is plush, and tiles always have a very finished look. They are SUPER easy to set up and take little thought. A few options to getting carpet cheap is to check a local supplier for remnants that they can sell you from old jobs.

Another option I’ve discovered is the DIY painted “rugs”. Ikea sells a great 8×10″ white woven rug that you could re-paint every year if you wanted to for about $79.00 – with all the great patterns out there you could really have fun with this option. Another option is to buy runners and sew them together lengthwise. Most runners are standard at 96″ (8 feet) which would be great for creating a custom top layer over carpet pad (You’ll want spray glue or carpet tape to lay it down smooth though).

This was one of an epiphany that I had one night this last month. Placemats can be cheap, and act very similar to a FLOR tile. I think with place mats you are basically getting FLOR tiles at a fraction of the cost. They come in a HUGE variety and because of their significant price difference, you can afford to get extras for replacements if necessary. They would be similar in thickness to the flor tiles regarding installation and are usually washable in a washing machine (bonus)! Some of my favorites were from Ikea that were clear placemats with printed patterns. I don’t know why, but I LOVE the birds. They would look SO cool overlaid on the cement floor of Javits.

One thing you won’t want to overlook is the installation of the flooring. If you are doing it yourself, it is much easier to have smaller pieces that your are sectioning together. Trying to lift a huge carpet roll by yourself can be tedious if you have chicken arms like me. You will also want to consider the rest of your booth in the selection process. Is your booth installation going to be done be Manny Stone? Will you set your floor in after? If so, will you want the option of a finished molding look? If you are installing your walls yourself, will you be spending enough time on the rest of your booth to need a simple floor plan or can you take the time to put together laminate planks? Will you be flying in early for setup or will you be trying to do it in one day? If you are installing a laminate floor, consider the NSS rule of “No power tools” . There’s nothing more depressing than wanting to do it all yourself only to get the contracted Javits laborers up in your hair about installing it for you.

Pre-show Set up
Last piece of advice I have is to set-up your flooring pre-show. Don’t let any last minute surprises catch you off-gurad. By setting up your flooring once before the show you will know what tools you will need to get the job done, and how much time it will take. It will also help you figure out if you have a “puzzle piece” floor (alternating designs for tiles or variegated laminate planks) to know what goes where. You can also label the pieces in a grid fashion so when you get to the show its simply a paint-by-numbers process. Easy and brainless.

If you’ve exhibited before and feel like sharing some tips feel free to leave them in the comments – I’d love to hear what others have done to make a great floor at NSS!