You’ll know the perfect floor when you see it. Or will you? Just when you think you’ve found that just right floor, you come to realize it’s not what you thought. We spend so much time on color, style, and texture that we lose sight of how light affects all three.

Suffice to say, it’s critical to see your new floor in the right light, right from the start.

Begin by becoming aware of the different types of lighting in the stores you shop. Next, more than anything else, try to view your selections where the light most closely resembles that of your home.

Step 1: Know what kind of light you have in your home

Incandescent or regular light bulbs, show texture best. They come in many shapes, including reflector shapes. “Halogens” are a type of incandescent lights that burn a little bit whiter than regular incandescent bulbs. (Newer compact, screw-in fluorescents act pretty much like incandescent bulbs and deliver a nice warm color. )

Fluorescent, the long tubular ones, and most commonly the plain old “cool white” fluorescents, are generally found in kitchens, baths, basements, launder rooms and workshops. With tubular fluorescent lights, light hits the floor from many points, eliminating shadows and washing out some texture.

Step 2: Know the kind of lights used where you’re shopping

Higher-end stores tend to use more incandescent lights, like those in your home, often in track lights. Discount flooring stores often have mostly fluorescent lights. If the store has a rather blue overall cast, they are probably “daylight” fluorescents. Most homes do not have these, so beware. For example, certain reds and yellows may not appear true and that green carpet may have a burgundy fleck you’d wear wasn’t there in the store. Finally, many large home centers and do-it-yourself stores use an industrial light called metal halide. Virtually no homes have it, so be careful when looking at samples there.

Step 3: For the truest color rendition, rely on natural light

If store lighting is different from what you have in your home, take samples to a window or outside to see how it really looks. IN big home centers, the nearest window could be quite a jaunt, so, take a short walk to the chandelier department, or perhaps the paint department, they have paint displays that show different types of lighting.

Step 4: Take your samples home, if you can

That’s the best bet to make sure your choice looks right in your lighting, and with your furnishings. Going back and forth with samples or books of samples can be time-consuming, but at least it can be less frustrating when you have narrowed the selections down and if you want your new floors to light up your life.