28 March 2010

Wood Flooring

This week the wood flooring work began. The process of deciding which flooring product to use was almost as lengthy and complex as the water heater selection saga. We knew we wanted natural (unstained) maple, at least 3" wide, but that left a lot of options. We started out thinking about pre-finished engineered wood and site-finished solid wood. Site-finished wood looks so wonderful, but it's expensive, and really wide solid planks (4-5", like we really wanted) don't do well with humidity changes. Engineered wood is more stable because it's made by taking thin layers of wood and laying it in different directions, making it a better choice for wide planks, and the price is right...but because the finish is applied to each piece before they're installed, not to the whole floor, it doesn't hold up as well, and we really love the look of site-finished floors. Fortunately, R introduced us to another option -- but unfortunately, R's options are rarely less expensive, and this time was no exception. Site-finished engineered wood with a 1/4" solid wear layer is the best of both worlds...and the price reflects that. So we were back to the other options. After looking at lots of brands and styles and going back and forth, we saw a prefinished floor at a new condo downtown with a finish we really liked. It was very reasonably priced, but we had the same concerns about how it would hold up over time. We were torn. Then Steve got a sizable bonus at work, which covered the price difference between the prefinished wood and the solid-on-engineered site-finished wood.

The flooring arrived this week, and it's perfect. Here you can see the solid layer on top of the engineered layers. Since only the layer above the tongue can be sanded and refinished (even on regular solid wood), solid-on-engineered can be refinished as many times as solid. It will last a hundred years (maybe longer, since we don't wear shoes indoors and won't need to refinish it as often).

Once we settled on this kind of wood, we still had the option of second grade (with the most darker pieces and flaws such as knots and dark streaks), first grade (lighter, with few flaws), or clear. The installer, Will, didn't think the clear was actually any better than the first grade -- they're just the names different brands use -- but Steve wanted to spend the extra for clear anyway. When the time came to order, though, the company that made the clear was out of business, so we were left with first grade (which saved us more than enough to go from 4" planks to 5"). Steve was concerned about the appearance of the first grade, though, so Will agreed to lay out a few boxes before starting the installation so we could see the range of pieces. On Friday we went over for a peek (this is not the final layout):

While we were there, Will mentioned that we could go through some boxes over the weekend and pull out any pieces we don't like. I suspect he made this offer not expecting that we would really do it. He doesn't know us. We spent a couple of hours yesterday and most of the day today going through about 1500 square feet of flooring, separating it into "great room" (best), "other rooms" (pretty good), and "closets" (the weird pieces). Here's the sorting station we set up in the dining room:

We had no idea we'd be spending yet another weekend at the house. We had been looking forward to a relaxing weekend, including a neighborhood watch meet-and-greet at a neighbor's house, which was lovely. Also in attendance was the family across the street, who have been so excited about the construction. The mom, Natalie, told us that one of the girls commented last week, "The garage door is on. They must be living there now!" If only....


  1. how about some more bunny news and pix - it's friggin' easter egg time ya know!

  2. Bunny pictures sure are cute, but I'm not sure we should be rewarding such language with bunny cuteness.