The biggest factor in flooring is always price. Often we correlate a higher price point with a better quality product, however, that is not always the case anymore. There are so many lines of hardwood available coming from around the world (mostly China) that it is difficult to know what you’re buying and if you’re getting your money’s worth. Flooring is not cheap, we know this, so let’s see how we can help.
If you’re buying new hardwood that means you don’t have hardwood now, don’t like the hardwood you have or are adding a room. If you are adding a room or have existing hardwood refinishing is an option but we’ll cover that next. When purchasing new hardwood here are questions to ask:
1. SOLID OR ENGINEERED?
SOLID HARDWOOD is as it sounds, all hardwood, all one species through the board. We use this all the time to add on to floors that have existing solid hardwood. You should not install solid wood on concrete but we can easily mill this type of flooring to the right width and thickness to match an existing floor.
ENGINEERED HARDWOOD is a veneer of the hardwood species you see on top with multiple layers of other species hardwood and plywood below. Why? It helps with expansion and contraction (important for wide width hardwood!) and you now have the option to install it on top of concrete. Not all engineered hardwoods are created equal. The thickness of the top veneer, also known as the wear layer, varies with different products. Also the way the veneer is cut (flat vs. spiral) can affect the quality as well. A little research goes a long way.
2. WEAR LAYER THICKNESS
WEAR LAYER refers to how much wood on top can be refinished. With solid hardwood you can keep refinishing until you reach the staples that were used to install the wood. Engineered products vary and some engineered floors have such a thin veneer or wear layer on top they cannot be refinished even once. Make sure you are purchasing a quality product with a thick wear layer. For engineered hardwood we recommend a 3mm or 4mm wear layer, 4mm being ideal.
The FINISH on your floor is very important. Finish decides the look of your hardwood, the durability and also determines how easy it is to clean. We have all sorts of info on finishes, just reference our last blog post or click here: https://strongroots.ca/lets-talk-hardwood-finish/.
4. WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?
This simple question can be very tricky to answer but it is so important. Your hardwood floor is a natural resource. Different countries have different rules for harvesting and creating hardwood flooring. You may have a product that is distributed from a main port like Vancouver or California or is marketed as a local product, however, if a company is not specific in regards to certifications and where the wood is harvested than it is likely from China and there could be illegally harvested wood mixed in.
There is a really great way to make money in the flooring industry and it’s simple. Import wood from China for a really low cost and sell it at a premium in high quantities here. We have chosen not to participate in this highly profitable business model because it it is not good for our Earth and it does not fit our core values.
We feel your best option is to purchase wood from Europe that is FSC certified. We cover more on this certification in a previous blog here: https://strongroots.ca/sustainable-flooring/. Making sure that you are purchasing from companies that are not devastating forests or using glues than can be harmful in your home is the right choice.
5. NOW WHAT?
Those are the basic questions to cover when you’re choosing a floor so now onto the price. New engineered hardwood varies in price from around $4.99 per sq ft for the bottom of the barrel products all the way to $18.00 per sq ft for beautiful but likely overpriced custom product. For a quality product that is sustainably harvested you are looking into a range more like $6.50 – $12.00 per sq ft. Quality, species, thickness, width, sustainability and who you are buying from may all play factors in the price of the product. Sometimes you are just paying a lot of money for a well marketed and trendy but not great quality floor.
Now with your new information you can browse the links below for some inspirational sustainable hardwoods that are worth your money.
https://boen.com/en – these guys doing incredible in the sustainable and healthy finish department
https://www.purparket.com/environment – they do not mention sustainable harvesting but take care in their finish
https://craftfloor.com/us/craft-and-the-environment/ – SFI Certified and Greenguard Certified products. Their wood comes from North America and they offer lots of beautiful styles
https://coswickcanada.ca/ – another awesome European company, check out their parquetry
http://europlex.ca/environment/ – this is the supplier for Boen and Coswick, read here about their environmental commitment
Hardwood refinishing is applicable to both existing floors and new floors. If you are spending money on new floors you should be able to get decades of use if they have enough wear layer to refinish.
There are the obvious environmental benefits of re-finishing what you have but we’re here to talk about price. The best way to do this is to break down replacing your hardwood vs. refinishing it. We’ve created the graphic below based on 1000 square feet and we went bottom of the barrel for pricing on the the new hardwood, just to be fair:
Maybe you’ve seen a blow out deal for some hardwood at a big box store or from a flooring store that is selling “what they have” based on a shipment of product from China. It seems like a good deal at the time but it so seldom ever is. It’s better to look at the whole picture or the “forest through the trees” pun intended. Lots of low quality products will not wear well and will need to be replaced within ten years. You also are risking lesser glues exposing you to toxic chemicals and hardwood illegally or non-sustainably harvested.
SAVE MONEY BUT LOVE YOUR FLOOR
The best way to save money is to use what you have and refinish and/or add to your existing wood. The second best way is to purchase a product that will last for many decades. There is no need to replace your hardwood as styles change, you can just change your hardwood.
We hope this was helpful. We offer on site visits and are always here to answer your hardwood questions. Want some inspiration? Follow us on Instagram!