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What Wood Floor Is Best for Me?

I have a hard enough time choosing what kind of shampoo to buy these days. Walk down the aisle in a CVS or Wall Mart and look at the selections! My gosh I’m just looking for plain old shampoo folks. What’s up with all these crazy names. Just give me a bottle that says shampoo!

hardwood floor samplesDays Gone By. It Was All Red Oak

I now see how confused hardwood floor shoppers can be. For eons all we had were solid hardwood floors and parquet floors. Prior to the seventies homeowners didn’t make the choices as much as they do today. Standard red oak floors were installed and finished natural. The hardwood floors of yesteryear weren’t treated as a major decision maker when it came to buying homes or what to choose. Builders randomly threw red oak floors in homes. They were considered just a functional part of the home in most cases. Finishes were just shellac or some kind of oil based finish.

Then Came Along Engineered Floors. Huh?

That was a funny name when they first came out. Most folks didn’t want to hear about it. It looked cheap and old grandad didn’t have those fake floors in his house so why should I choose to? Engineered hardwood floors actually opened up new possibilities and their evolution has many surprised, including us. Many no longer look cheap, have more options than solid floors, and provide a more stable problem free solution in most cases.

Yea, those cheap looking ones are still around. Check any pricing under four dollars a square foot in Joes Floor Store or Home Depot down the block and it’s likely to be that ugly stuff grandad would not touch with his fifteen foot pole. Engineered floors now offer better solutions to many of us that live on cement concrete slabs. The great migration to the south over the last 40 to 50 years leaves many of these floors to be covered more efficiently.

Nah. Gimme The Real Stuff Grandad Would Use

Lot’s of that stuff is still around and is more preferred with homes that have wooden subfloors; plywood or oriented stand board (OSB). Grandad didn’t see many prefinished floors either. If so they were probably waxed. Todays’ prefinished are the types that don’t need any treatment once the floor is installed. In his days the floors would be installed then a sanding guy would come in and put a finish on the floor. Odors would take forever to dissipate and many were highly toxic. There are still some of those around today, but not used as often.

The older traditional floors in our opinion are a great choice, but some engineered floors made by Owens Plank are hard to ignore. Yea, I know what you’re thinking…”it’s a freaking mess with all that dust and noxious fumes…” Grandad would be surprised at the advancements in that department. Some professional floor finishers use effective dust control setups that remove 99% of the potential airborne dust particles. Finish technology has improved as well. More environmentally friendly floor finishes are water based and do not take forever to offgas like the older ones. Companies like Bona, Poloplaz, and Parks offer low voc oil finishes along with water based finishes.

So How About Those Prefinished Floors?

Undoubtedly their finishes are superior to ones applied after the floor sander is done. Newer factory applied finish technology allows for a longer lasting finish, but they won’t do much for scratching or denting of floors. If there is any disadvantage of the prefinished floors of today it would be the use of micro beveled appearance nearly all hardwood manufacturers use. It doesn’t look like old grandads’ floor but may last longer if taken care of without the need for periodic improvements or complete refinishing. When the floors do need to be refinished, costs will be higher due to the added time working with these tough as nail finishes.