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What makes a quality hardwood floor right for ME?

Hardwood Flooring is all about quality, after all you walk on it every day. But what is quality? How do I know if I'm buying a quality hardwood floor?

This Wood Flooring Buyers' Guide is designed to answer all your questions about what you would like to know and look for, when buying a hardwood floor. We have been in the business for over 20 years and know that every customer, ourselves included, want the best price. I've learnt that the "best price" is not always the "cheapest price", thus we provide this information to help you sort out the real value in what you are buying.

A wood floor's quality, it this the same as its grade?

No! not at all.... The National Hardwood Flooring Association, defines what a "Select & Better" or "#1" grade floor, must be to be labeled as such.

Their rules only dictate

  1. what length the strips of flooring must be
  2. how consistent the colour should be
  3. how many and what size knots are allowed

The "grade" does NOT tell you...

  1. how carefully and accurately the product has been made, thus
  2. how well it will fit together,
  3. or how well the finish will last.
It is for this reason that we offer you this information, to help you understand what you should pay for and how one would evaluate one "brand" vs. another. Enjoy.....

What should you pay for in a hardwood floor?

  • "FIT: The accuracy of the fit, between boards.
  • Why: The biggest threat to the long lasting beauty of your wood floor is water. Water will filter through any cracks and cause swelling, lifting of the finish and/or discolouration, particularly in the case of open pored woods like ash and oak. Take a close look at the ends of these woods and the cross section will show tiny open holes. Water can suck up through these pores from the bottom face of the flooring and cause the good face to discolour, and the finish to bubble. Seams must be tight!

    How will I know? Assemble a few planks of floor right in the store and you will see instantly how well they fit. Are they warped in either direction? Are all the tongues and grooves in good shape? Do all the planks measure the same width? Is the good face free of defects (ie.dings or dents). Any boards you don't like will become expensive firewood, and ultimately increase your cost per square foot.

    Simply asking the sales rep what to expect in wastage, if answered honestly will give you an indication of quality. Under 5% is great, over indicates poorer quality products.

    Ease of Installation: A good fitting product will be faster and easier to install. You won't need a crow bar to straighen boards before nailing. For the novice DIY this is a great asset.

  • Pay for a Great Finish:

  • It will cost you less in the long run because you delay the cost of refinishing and your floor will look new for years to come! I've had a Mirage floor for 15 years and it looks like new.

    Don't be fooled by the number of coats of finish. I've had to paint a room 3x's to get a paint to cover and it certainly wasn't because it was great paint or I was having a fun time.

    The only test is to ask around or see a floor that's seen a little life... warranties are kind of useless as they all opt out with phrases like "under normal wear conditions". It is best to get a first hand referral. Check out a floor that has been used for 5-10 years and make your own evaluation.

    Refinishing is very expensive, typically running $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot. It is usually cheaper to pay a little more for your floor today, than spend good dollars to refinish your floor a short time into the future.

  • Pay For a Product that is easy to maintain:
  • Type of Finish: Most floors are finish either with a polyurethane or wax based finish. The later has been mostly phased out over the last few years, because wax based finishes require ongoing polishing to maintain a good shine. Be sure to ask. Pay for a polyurethane. It is basically maintenance free.

    V-Grooves between the boards: All prefinished flooring is made with a small beveled edge, always on the long sides of the boards and preferable on the ends as well. If your subfloor is not perfectly level, or each individual board is not exactly the same thickness, this bevel eases the transition from one height to the next. Look for a floor that has the smallest bevel. It will be less likely to collect dust and dirt, then those products made with very large v-grooves. Usually in the best floors, it is referred to as a micro-bevel. The more accurate the milling is on the floor, the smaller the bevel can be.

    Unfinished floor is usually totally square edged, because it is sanded after installation. This removes any board to board height inaccuracies and leaves you with no grooves. In that respect it is a bonus, but it does not have all the advantages of a factory finish. Site finished flooring, relies more heavily on the quality of the installer. Do you have a talented individual to do the job?

  • Pay for a product that looks beautiful today and tomorrow!
  • Hardwood flooring is generally a lifetime decision. You put it in today, and live with it as long as you own your home. Paint and wallpaper change on a regular basis, and the colours that are in fashion today will be gone tomorrow, so it is best advised, to remain relatively conservative with the flooring. Be flamboyant with the paint. It is relatively inexpensive, and can be easily changed to suit the ever changing decorating trends.

    We hope all this information is of value to you.

Further Information:
Hardwood Flooring
National Oak Flooring Association
National Wood Flooring Assoc.

 

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