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Price And Quality

Walk into a typical flooring store and you will see lots different options for a new wood floor. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what the differences are and what might be the right selection for you. I will outline some of the differences you may see and how these differences will affect your final price.

What species is the wood - The biggest differentiator of wood flooring is what species of wood is used. Some domestic species include oak, hickory, cherry, walnut, and maple. Some exotic species include Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba), Acacia, Mahogany, and Tigerwood. Wood floor prices vary significantly depending on the availability of the species. Oak is the most abundant domestic wood therefore oak tends to be one of the least expensive floors. Walnut is less abundant therefore you should expect to pay more for it. Don't let the term exotic fool you into thinking it is more expensive. Many of them are very abundant and are very affordable. Species such as Brazilian Cherry and Acacia are priced similarly to our Oak and Hickory floors.

One note of caution is that exotic floors are subject to significant color variation and will change color over time. Many of these woods have natural color throughout the wood and have little or no stain. When exposed to light they can darken over time.

Thickness, Width and Layers - Another set of items that determine the cost and quality of a wood floor is the thickness, width and the number and thickness of layers. Engineered wood floors commonly come in thicknesses of 5/16" to 9/16" with most being 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Typically you pay more for thicker products and less for thinner products.

Wood floors will also vary in width. Most floors come in 3" and 5" wide planks though some can even be wider. Typically you pay more for wider products and less for thinner products.

Examine the side of the board and you will see different numbers of layers, different thicknesses in the veneer or wear layer and different types of filler layers being used. Typically you pay more for a thicker wear layer and more for multiples layers of wood. Less expensive varieties have fewer layers and use lower quality fillers.

Finishes - Wood floors vary significantly in their finishes. Some styles are a more traditional or furniture type of finish. The wood is smooth and the finish tends to be glossy. In order to get a smooth finish many of these woods require fillers for the grain. Better quality floors use fillers and will feel less grainy than lesser quality floors.

Handscraped or distressed floors have a wavy and rough finish with more of the natural wood character. These tend to cost more than a traditionally finished floor.

Just like buying most products, when you buy wood floors you are typically getting what you pay for. If a wood is priced much lower than other woods in its class it is because there is a difference somewhere. When trying to make a decision on your floor first determine the style and species you want, then, carefully review the differences in the products you are considering. Good luck - I hope this helps you get a great value.


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