Buying a hardwood floor is an important decision. Before investing a considerable amount of money, it is essential to know your priorities when it comes to floor coverings. You should consider possible designs, choice of wood species, durability, installation methods, maintenance, and the numerous benefits you will get from a hardwood floors.
Hardwood is a natural floor covering. It is appreciated for its warmth and easy maintenance. It reduces allergies due to dust and creating a sound environment. In addition, it enhances your decor and increases the resale value of your home.
We carry only quality name brands in hardwood flooring. With our extensive in-house display we can help you choose the flooring that’s right for you and within your budget.
Your choice of retailer is almost as important as your choice of flooring. Why? Because the retailer should also serve as your advisor. They have to respect your tastes and help you choose a product that meets your needs perfectly.
Your purchase won’t be limited to just floorboards – you will also need complementary accessories to make the room work as a whole, including molding to join with the walls and stair nosings. Are these things available in the same stain, gloss and species as your floor?
Flooring Accessories are often treated as something of an afterthought by both the homeowner and the installer, which is unfortunate because as with many home improvement undertakings, it’s the finishing details that really make for a superior job. Well-chosen and correctly-installed flooring accessories don’t just finish the job; they marry the new wood floor seamlessly to the rest of the interior décor.
Flooring Accessories come in many different shapes and sizes. Cove base, quarter round and base shoe are all types of trim for covering the gap between the floor and the wall. T-caps neatly bridge the gap between the wood floor and another flooring material of the same height, while reducers step between floor types of different heights. Stair nosings finish the front of stairs.
Within each category, there are countless variations of profile and dimension to fit various different flooring styles. Whatever their specifications, accessories serve several important functions;
-they hide the expansion space required for the wood flooring
-they help to hold the flooring secure to the subfloor
-transitions and reducers help smooth a change in elevation between the hardwood and the adjacent flooring
-they create a clean and visually pleasing transition between two different flooring types or between the flooring and the wall.
Tip: To achieve a really smooth-looking transition, find a board of flooring that is a close match in color and grain to the transition piece and install that board on the edge where the transition will be placed.
A quality hardwood floor can easily last over a century. Since buying this type of floor represents a significant investment, it’s smart to trust a professional with the installation work. This will make the most of the money you’re investing.
The board direction
Along the length of the room, the width of the room, diagonal or patterned? Aesthetics and personal taste will direct you toward your choice of board direction. When the boards are being installed on a wood subfloor, it’s recommended to position them perpendicular to the joists. Similarly, you should pay attention to optical illusions – it’s better, for instance, to avoid placing boards widthwise in a long, narrow room. Those looking for a different style can plan a diagonal placement or the traditional, but still distinctive, open-ended herringbone design.
Although very durable, wood does react to its environment – especially humidity. It’s recommended that you keep humidity levels at around 45% to prevent unfavorable conditions for the floor and make your house more comfortable in general.
Hardwood floors are more durable and stable than ever. But water, soap and sand are still a constant threat. You must absolutely avoid washing your hardwood floor with an excess of water, excessively wet mops, and commercial soaps. Regular vacuuming, a damp cloth and manufacturer-recommended products are all you need to keep your floor looking great.
Sample size plays a pivotal role in the final decision-making. Be sure to get large enough samples. A sample that is too small won’t give you a good idea of how the floor is going to look once it’s installed across a whole room. Ensure that the floor’s grade, color variations, species and wood grain are visible in the sample.
Helpful Questions and Answers:
Renovation or new construction?
If your hardwood purchase is for a home renovation, you must first determine which existing structural and decorative elements will remain in your home after the floor installation. Choose a floor that will complement these elements and work as part of the whole look. If your hardwood purchase is for a new house, the decor and style you are looking for will guide your choice of flooring.
What type of home is it for?
The type of residence will significantly influence the flooring type and installation method you need. In a single-family home, the subfloor will dictate the type of floor you can install. In a condominium, your condo owner’s agreement usually has rules egarding soundproofing which have to be considered. In a basement, an engineered floor will be your preferred option.
Which rooms need flooring?
A sketch of the house and the areas to be covered will be a huge help to the retailer. It should include dimensions, as well as bstacles and permanent features like stairways, closets, etc.
How many people live in the residence?
Big families mean lots of feet in the house, which means it’s best to choose flooring that can stand up to a lot of wear. Similarly, matte or satin finishes forgive many more of the accidental scratches that come with small children and pets.
Who should I trust to install my floor?
Given the importance of your investment in your hardwood floor and the long-term stakes surrounding its installation, it’s recommended that you seek out the services of installation specialists. They guarantee their work with no risk of invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty.
Laminate Floor Advise:
Are you wondering what is the difference between a $1.99 laminate and a $3.39 laminate if they appear the same?
Ask your salesperson these questions.
What is the density of the core board?
A true High Density Fibreboard should have a density of at least 800kg/m3. Less than this is a medium density fibreboard and will not perform as well structurally overtime. Warping and cupping become real possibilities. Steps Uniclic has a core density of 800kg/m3.
What is the swell rate?
The swell rate is determined by the manufacturer submerging the material in water for 24 hours and measuring how much it has swollen. The European Producers of Laminate Flooring allow only an 18% swell rate while North American manufacturers may allow up to 50%! Steps Uniclic allows only less than 8% on all its 8 and 9.5 mm flooring. Swell rates determine how well a laminate floor will cope with humidity fluctuations and water spills. Remember, there is no such thing as a waterproof floor.
What is the pattern repeat?
Laminate floors are meant to mimic the real thing, wood or tile. A pattern repeat refers to how many different visuals can be expected in the floor. The more visuals, the more realistic it looks. The industry average on laminate floors is 1 in 4 pattern repeat.
Steps Uniclic starts at 1 in 10 pattern repeat and goes as high as 1 in 34! Do you want your laminate floor to look like a $1.99 laminate, or a real wood floor?
What is the joining system?
It is now common to have a glueless joint on a laminate floor, but not all systems are created equally. The UNICLIC system used by TORLYS Steps Uniclic is the original glueless joint that is defended by world wide patents, because, it simply works better. It will not let go with over 1000 lbs of force on the joint, yet is warranted for removal and re-installation 3 times. It can be installed with 3 different methods, making it very versatile for either the professional or the ‘do-it-your-selfer.’ If it does not say UNICLIC on the box, it is not UNICLIC in the box.
These are just some of the very important items that make up the price differences between a cheap imitation and a quality product that you can feel safe investing in. Don’t be fooled, it has nothing to do with buying power, it has to do with the professional floorcovering dealers who will not sell substandard flooring vs. those who don’t know any better. Ask these questions and find out who really knows flooring and whom you should trust with your investment.
Want to read more? Here is a very good article written by TORLYS – one of the flooring lines we carry.
So…you’ve decided to renovate and you want a beautiful new floor. The next decision is “what to buy.” Hard surface or soft? Hardwood or laminate? Glue-down, nail down or floating? Engineered or solid? When you start out, it’s confusing. Everything is on the table.
Flooring is an investment. It should (and can!) last for many years, for decades if chosen correctly. Too often this long-term purchase is decided by short-term considerations. Purchase price is always important but low-priced flooring, especially those with in-your-face “low-low prices” can spell unhappiness for homeowners after the floor is installed.
Let’s take a look at two approaches to buying floors and see where they can lead…
Rachel – The Smart Investor
Rachel is a busy mother of two who closely manages the household budget and understands she has a limited amount of money to spend on flooring. She also understands that flooring is a significant purchase…possibly as much as $10,000 for an installed floor in her home. She wants to get the most for her money and the best possible value over the life of the floor.
Her first stop is a reputable specialty flooring store in her community. She discusses her situation with a showroom consultant and they review her options. She decides on a luxury vinyl floor embossed and ingrained with the feel and appearance of wood, a proven product – like TORLYS EverWood. Why? It looks great, will last a long time, and it feels warmer and more comfortable that laminate. And it’s waterproof.
Next decision…What brand is the best choice?
Rachel researches leading brands online. She looks for product reviews and the experiences of other homeowners. She checks websites like Pinterest and Instagram and Houzz to see what products look the best in different settings. She visits two other specialty flooring stores and compares the products and prices.
Finally, she decides on a brand she can trust and goes to the flooring specialty store to make sure she gets the brand she wants AND an experienced, company-backed floor installer.
She doesn’t get the cheapest because she is concerned that big box stores and flooring discounters and so-called “wholesalers” do not always sell the best brands. Sometimes they “white label” cheap products from manufacturers, putting their name or a “house brand” name on the floor to make it look like more reputable and trusted.
The decision to stick with a floor brand that is known – and has a (real!) reputation to uphold – is perhaps the smartest move that Rachel makes on her floor buying journey. Why? Because the floor she bought a year ago still looks great today. She is as happy with it now as she was when she bought it. It has not uglied out. There is no danger of bad indoor air quality. Every detail her trusted brand promised has been entirely delivered.
Rachel is happy and so is her family.
Beth – The Bargain Hunter
Based on the “happy conclusion” story of Rachel, it’s not hard to guess what’s going to happen to Beth. Of course, not all bargain hunting ends with a bad experience, but flooring is one of those purchases where caution pays off.
At first, Beth’s approach is similar to Rachel’s. She too visits flooring stores, and like Rachel, believes laminate is her best option. She has a dog and two kids and prefers a smoother surface so she sticks with her laminate decision.
She takes notes in the flooring store and goes online. Then she visits the big boxes and discounters looking for the “same” floor at a better price. They all look the same. Some are even packaged more nicely in the big stores. And the prices are much lower.
Her choice is a low-cost laminate that looks identical to the “expensive” one in the flooring showroom. Installation is cheaper too.
After the first winter, Beth notices her laminate floor seems to be lifting at the joints. And, in a spot where her son spilled lemonade, the floor is discolored and rippling under the surface. Scratches show easily. The dog isn’t allowed in the family room and that just makes everyone sad.
Lesson learned? Flooring is not a simple purchase. Like any important home purchase, flooring is an investment and should be researched. Caution, pre-purchase, pays off.
And Beth may be getting off lucky. Some buyers of cheap flooring have much more horrifying stories to tell. Particularly when it comes to indoor air quality and environmental concerns. Imagine the fear and regret that comes with exposing your family to off-gassed formaldehyde or dangerous VOCs. (It happens. Take a minute to research formaldehyde in flooring in 2015.)
For your next flooring purchase, here are some tips to help guide you…and your future home happiness!
TIPS FOR A BETTER FLOOR BUYING EXPERIENCE
Think like an Investor
Take the long view. Remember that your floor should look good and perform well for many, many years. Five years from now you will be thankful you invested well.
Research flooring brands online – learn about the companies you are most interested in: their philosophies, practices and products.
Understand Quality: Ask These Questions…
How are the products made? Does the company explain its construction processes? Is there easy access to Customer Service/Support – 1-800# in North America? Online chat? Where is the product sold – big box store only? Is it all about price? Price? If it is too good to be true, it probably is and won’t satisfy your desires long term.
Understand Indoor Environment Issues: It’s Your Home!
It’s VERY important when shopping for floors to understand the impact of compliance with strict environmental standards certified by CARB (California Air Resources Board), NALFA (North American Laminate Flooring Assn.), FloorScore®. Floors that have these official seals meet or exceed the toughest indoor air quality standards – offering peace of mind.
Visit A Reputable Specialty Flooring Store
Go to a specialty flooring store and see what you like, what type of flooring works for you and your budget. This is your best opportunity to talk to experts. Retailers who specialize in flooring know their stuff. Another plus with flooring specialty dealers: they understand the importance of actual installation and use only experienced installers.
Don’t Get Sucked in by “Low-Low Prices”
Discounters tend to treat flooring as a commodity, not as a key ingredient to make your home renovation a success. Recent sensational product malfunctions – especially related to indoor air quality – have come from discount flooring warehouses. That’s not an accident. Their lack of concern for product quality, caring only about price, leads to errors that homeowners ultimately pay for.
Buy a Brand Name
In Canada, companies like TORLYS Smart Floors and Marquee Floors by TORLYS have established reputations. You want your floor to look great when you buy it – even more important, you want it to look just as great years, or decades, from now.
Discuss Warranties and Dealer Support
The best specialty stores usually stock a variety of brands that they stand behind. Specifically, ask these questions:
- Is the brand’s warranty pro-rated? (ie, do you lose value for replacement over time)
- If you have a problem, is it easy to get dealer/brand support?
- Is there a Satisfaction Guarantee? (This is really what you want: more than product replacement. eg, a company like TORLYS offers a Peace of Mind warranty that allows you up to 90 days to change your floor if you don’t like the colour or style, non-pro-rated warranty, plus a unique future trade-in value program.)
Be Wary of Big Boxes
Not all big box floor offerings are sub-standard. In fact, many are solid performing branded floors. Sometimes, though, the problem is the quality of a product made for a retailer exclusively. It may be branded, but made with slightly inferior components to meet low-price requirements. Also, do you really want to buy a floor from a retailer that sells nuts and bolts? What do they know about proper flooring installation?
Return to the Flooring Store You Like Best
You simply can’t go wrong sticking with this tried-and-true approach. You may pay a few dollars more, but think of all the benefits, for you and your family.