Before You Start
- Draw a rough layout, which does not have to be professional
- Measurement: length and width, includes closets
- Sub-floor: what's underneath the carpet/vinyl/tile. Sometimes you can pull up in-floor vent cover to see.
1) Buy popular and reputable brand names. They most likely:
- make floors for decades, will be there for many years to come;
- use more advanced technologies to ensure better quality;
- have dedicated professional representative and formal distribution channel;
- offer enviromentally friendly wood floor products;
Reputable brand names: Armstrong, Bruce, Columbia, Mirage, Mercier, Lauzon, Preverco, Millican, HomerWood, Mohawk, Shaw, Nature, Johson, BR111, Kahrs, Chelsea Plank.
2) Go with local authorized dealers. They most likely:
- have better quality products;
- have so many more designer brands and selections than big box stores;
- have dedicated owner or personnel with experience and knowledge;
- have sale and service Integrity. They do not sub contract the job;
- have all the benefits from manufactuers, such as warranty, promotion and support;
(Never buy floor from an individual contractor, if he/she is not an authorized dealer from manufacturer's list or website.)
3) Buy popular sizes and species. They most likely:
- are easy to find in the future, in case you need to expand more area or repair the floor;
Popular face sizes of Domestic species: 2-1/4", 3", 3-1/4", 4", 5";
Popular face sizes of Exotic species: 3", 3-1/4", 3-1/2", 3-3/4", 4", 5";
Standard thickness of Solid Wood Floors: 3/4";
Standard thickness of Engineered Wood Floors: 3/8", 1/2", 5/8";
Popular domestic species: red oak, white oak, hard maple, american cherry, american walnut, hickory, pecan, ash, yellow birch, pine;
Poplular exotic species: brazilian cherry (jatoba), brazilian walnut ( ipe), brazilian teak (cumaru), santos mahogany (cabureva), tigerwood;
4) Be realistic about prices.
Do you really think $2.50/sqft can buy decent quality prefinished hardwood floor? We do not think so. When you start to shopping, go to at least 2 (authorized dealers) specialty stores and 2 big box stores to get the sense of the market.
In poor economy, many stores sell very low quality floors to satisfy the price tag. Try to avoid being penny wise and dollar foolish. The general business principle: You get what you paid for.
Well, how bad could it be? The possibilities: short pieces, rotten pieces, pieces with knots and worm holes, crooked, sloppy milling, mill-run, big bevels, A-B-C mixed grade, tavern grade, high moisture content, illegal lumber, harmful chemicals, low end finish treatment.