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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Do I Choose a Hardwood Floor?

Probably the most difficult dilemma that my clients run into during their project. You know, I wish I had one line of advice that I could give you on how to choose the right species for your home. However, there really isn't one. All I can tell you is that there are several things that you should consider when choosing. First, you have to choose a species that carries the characteristics that will compliment your home. If you have a high end home with very involved decorating and accent work, then a rustic Pine floor might not be for you. On the other hand, many homes look very nice with a rustic grade of flooring in them. Think about the overall look that you are going for and look at samples to jog your mind. Second, not only is the species an issue but solid or engineered flooring must be decided upon. Keep in mind that in some applications you may only have one option to choose from. Make sure you ask your flooring contractor which options are available to you. Another issue that I run into time and time again is the quality of flooring that people buy "on their own." Here again, you get what you pay for. I can almost guarantee you that if you are paying $.99 per square foot, it is going to look like it. In addition, your flooring contractor may charge you more to work with a "cheap" floor that is more difficult to work with due to the milling of the floor boards. Most of the time, you will wind up paying less money for the overall flooring project if you buy a more expensive flooring material. I encourage all of my new floor clients to purchase the flooring material from us as I can honor a material guarantee. If you go out and buy the product on your own, guess what, If there is a material defect, you are on your own. Be careful purchasing liquidated or close out products. If you run into an issue a couple of years down the road, chances are you will not be able to re-purchase the same material to do repairs. I have run into several horror stories of houses that have flooded in one room and the entire home's flooring had to be torn out and a new floor installed because the product could not be found anymore. Oh yeah... the insurance company only paid for the room that flooded. Be careful, find something that should be around for a while. When selecting a product, have realistic expectations of the life of the floor. If you buy a solid floor, it should last you a lifetime. If you buy an engineered floor, you will probably only get one or two sandings out of it, if you hire a highly skilled craftsman to sand it (very expensive). If you buy a laminate floor, it can not be sanded. Check with flooring companies before you buy product from a large retail chain. Many contractors are actually Dealer/Contractors that can offer really good deals on flooring believe it or not. Think about it, a flooring contractor makes their money trough the labor to install or sand, not from the flooring purchase. In addition, most professional contractors will only offer mid to upper line products that many times you can purchase for less than you can get a lesser product from the large retail stores. So basically, you get an upgrade in flooring, you get the product from the installer and you get a material guarantee from your contractor. Remember, not all hardwood manufacturers mill their floors the same. Some are good and some are not. You get what you pay for!

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