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In this article we will be discussing several different categories of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is one board with no glued up laminations; it is basically wood board that has been sized and profiled to a certain dimension. Engineered flooring has a on the top whatever species and texture you want, and this is glued to a plywood backer on the bottom. Engineered is still all wood but is made with multiple layers that are laminated for better stability and dimensional accuracy. Floors that we will not cover here are laminates or any composite products which are often not wood entirely through the plank or may be made with a photo printed surface. We also will not cover vinyl, carpet, stone, or tile.
With reclaimed material waste factor is a huge variable. How much effort does the manufacturer take to give you a 100% usable product? Poorly milled with very little defecting and culling done on a solid wood floor that costs $6/sf and has a 15% waste factor actually costs more than a similar product that is milled better costing $7/sf with a 2% waste factor. That extra wastes costs more in shipping and labor to defect. This is one of the hardest things to demonstrate to a customer that the face value costs doesnt necessarily represent the actual raw material cost unless one is truly comparing identical quality and specified products.
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.
Compare overall thickness and the height from the top of the tongue or nail groove to the top of the face on the floor. On an engineered floor this is generally the thickness of a wear layer. Most solid wood floors are 3/4" overall before sanding (but some are less) with 1/4" above the nail groove. Our engineered floor is manufactured to equivalent measurements but most engineered floors have a thinner wear layer. This comes down to how many times the floor can be sanded. What kind of finish and texture you want on the floor factors into how deep you will re-sand the floor during refinishing. A number of our reclaimed wood floors are sold with an original texture that shows the old saw marks and character in the floor, so most likely you wont want to sand this out. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the wear layer then the longer the floor will last.
Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Think through every step of the process to be sure that you can do it yourself. Usually the install can be done with relatively moderate skills and simple tools like a chop saw and rented flooring nailer. The finishing process is a whole different matter. The sanders and buffers take some special skills to operate. A normal price range for labor and materials to install a wood floor is $4-5 per square foot. It is possible to build your own sweat equity into a floor install. Maybe this is where you choose to use our engineered product for example because it is presanded to more accurate tolerances than a solid wood product. It can be touched up with a hand held orbital sander rather than industrial floor sanders. Then if you are doing the finish yourself, you will want to consider using a finish that may not require as much buffing between coats.
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