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The variable is installation costs. Our engineered product has labor savings over our solid wood product because it is pre-sanded and milled to tighter tolerances. It is also prefilled in the holes and has next to zero waste. On the other hand you may have a little more in cost of gluing it down in addition to nails, but this is just a step in direction of better quality and peace of mind during the install.
Did you see a picture that you like and now you have the bug that you want that special floor? The good news is that it could probably be made for you, but before you go a long ways down the path of choosing which floor you want and requesting a display room full of samples, ask about some price ranges. There is a common misconception that since reclaimed wood is supposedly salvaged it should be cheaper than virgin wood floors. If you are buying a quality kiln dried and precision milled product, generally that is not the case. The only cost savings would be if you found some scraps or did some salvage work yourself, you might save some costs. For example you might find a gym floor or planks out of a barn hay loft that you want to nail down on your floor. The material might have been next to free, but how much time are you going to have in making it usable and pulling nails? Are the results what you want?
If your price-point is not even in the same zip code, maybe it is in a different state, start shopping other options. For example if you are in the $1-2/sf range look at the deep discounters or laminate options. The FSC certified 12mm exterior birch plywood that we use to manufacturer the engineered flooring costs us that much alone, not counting all the other labor and materials.
We personally do not care for prefinished flooring due to installation problems associated with it, so our product requires site applied finish. This means that your floor finish if site applied will be easier to sand and refinish than a prefinished floor. Also you do not have to deal with that micro bevel groove between each board that tends to fill up with dust and crumbs. Most prefinished hardwood floors really cant be refinished easily. To sand it off means that the wear layer has to be thicker than the height of the nails and have room to sand off the micro bevel between boards; that amounts to a lot of sanding. You also will not be able to spot sand or touch up parts of the floor.
For the variable here is a controversial opinion: we do not end match our flooring which means there is no tongue and groove on the ends of the planks. Since we recommend our floor be glued down we say this is an unnecessary expense for the customer. End matching reduces the yield in production and raises labor costs. Most end match profiles are milled so loosely that they really dont hold the floor in place anyway. The biggest benefit to the installer is that the plank can be cut in half in any place and reused anywhere without have to mate up to a complementary tongue or groove since the end is just square cut. This means all end trim pieces or any waste can be reused. Therefore on our engineered flooring product the waste factor is virtually nothing unless there are angles or radiuses to work around. We also help with waste factor by usually supplying a random width product so when one gets close to the end of a room they can plan the width combination patterns out to not have to rip much off the last row.
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