Buying a container of laminate from China

13 Replies

I buy my laminate from Costco ($1.5 per sq ft) and those Chinese flooring vendors 12mm ( $1 sq ft). Since I mostly use the same product, I wanted to know if anyone can explain how I could order a 20 foot container from China and if the savings will be significant. On Alibaba.com, I am seeing pricing as low as $0.35 per sq foot before shipping which would be substantial.

I work at a home improvement store. As you know just like any other business you hear about your competition. That stuff made in China is known to have formaldehyde-a cancer causing chemical. It makes people sick. In this business your name goes along way. I wouldn't do it...just my 2 cents.
Best of luck...

I've purchased from lumber liquidators for 0.29/sqft a few times and it's probably the cheapest you will come by. Only a 2-3 times a year will they offer their 6-7mm stock that cheap. It's probably better to pay at least $0.89/sqft and get the thicker 10-12mm laminate which seems to hold up better to water. Something that might be worth getting shipped from China are ductless heat pumps or water heaters but it could be more hassle than it is worth.

@Jassem A. - just out of curiosity, why do you need that much laminate?  This is more of a philosophical question, but I was in the lumber business for 8 years, and I am curious as to why you want to spend your money on such a product.  

Laminate in general is an inferior product, made with toxic chemicals, in an irresponsible manor, and doesn't hold up well at all in a rental/tenant environment.  It requires frequent replacing, results in a lot of landfill waste, and worst of all, sends production and money overseas.  

There are viable alternative products for lower end and multi-family housing, especially when you consider the cost of labor to replace that stuff, and the social cost of financially supporting a terribly wasteful and toxic industry.  

I get that we all need to save money on projects, but after 15+ years in the construction industry, I'll be the first to tell you that trying to save a nickel to have to spend a dollar later is a losing proposition.  

@Darwin Crawford

I'm not advocating getting it by the shipping container. I'd say buy from a company that does.  Laminate will still hold up much better than carpet, especially the thicker more durable variety. It's also cheaper than hardwood and cheaper and less labor intensive than tile.  Laminate is also easier to remove when it is time to replace it again and can be installed by anyone that has access to a jigsaw and a miter box.  I imagine the allure type flooring would hold up even better to moisture but it's also about 1.49/sqft whereas laminate can be had for 0.29/sqft for something that might last 5 years and under 1/sqft for stuff that should last longer than that.  The only time I use laminate is when there is not already hardwood and so I need to cover the bare subfloor up with something.  I'm also leaning towards not putting it in bathrooms unless it is 10mm or better and good quality.

As for the impact on the environment, I think we may be screwed either way as long as we are relying on fossil fuels for our energy needs.

Do you have official certs on this material? After all current hub bub regarding the LL  Chinese made laminate I'd want to be sure I wasn't buying a lawsuit. The CDC update a couple of weeks ago speaks volumes. And not all LVT's are out of the woods either.  Check out this CNN article,

http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/22/news/companies/home-depot-vinyl-floor-chemical/

@Jassem A. We do import for our clients, Alibaba is a good site and good price, only if you know what you want and etc. We have a good relationship with a shipper, if you are using that volume, it will be worth it, you will need 20' FCL, it will be a little more expensive than not FCL but it will not be mixed with other customer's products as well. Personally I do not mind bringing business somewhere else, last year I bought 3,000 angle stops and 3,000 faucet SS hoses, sent them a sample/spec, HD sells them for $6-8/pc, supplier prices were $1-1.15/pc, spent another $.50-.60/pc on air cargo and etc. I am pretty sure it was worth it. There was also a news article where lumber liquidators' supplier from China used Formaldehyde and LL sold it in US, so pretty much you're on the same book. The key to importing is, you don't go through brokers, we purchase directly with the manufacturer.

@Manolo D.

Thanks, I've just never bothered to try to import in bulk because I don't have enough rentals to need that much and would not want to try and resell it.  Did you get the push fit angle stops or pex?  I wonder what the mark up is for products sold by Harbor Freight vs box stores.

Originally posted by @Jassem A. :

@Manolo D.

Thanks, I've just never bothered to try to import in bulk because I don't have enough rentals to need that much and would not want to try and resell it.  Did you get the push fit angle stops or pex?  I wonder what the mark up is for products sold by Harbor Freight vs box stores.

 You can compute, mine was AIR FREIGHT, and what if it were SEA FREIGHT? 0.15/pc which brings costs at 1.30 vs 6-8/pc? However HF or HD, they also have overheads and all that, how many hands in how many warehouses it will go through until it gets to you. There is also 10 footers, but usually prices go up exponentially when importing in smaller, you have the same fixed costs for paperworks and fees but have variable costs in freight.

I do deal with China often and I would warn against Alibaba.com.  Your first load might be ok but your second, third and fourth might not be.  That really goes for a lot of Chinese manufacturers though. If their wanting payment upfront I start questioning it.  50% when shipped and 50% when arrived is okay... But not 100% up front.  

As for a container of flooring... I just did a 40ft with 55k lbs.  Might want to look into LCL shipments cause thats a ton of flooring.  Ball park pricing on a full 20ft ocean container from Shanghai or Hong Kong to Atlanta would run about $2500-$3500 depending who you broker it through.  West coast would be a little cheaper.

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