Help me pick Engineered / Solid flooring!
Some of you may have read about the major problems I had with Bruce's Park Avenue line of flooring that was recently installed in my home. Armstrong is allowing me to replace it with any other product they have, and I've decided to not touch laminate again. Aside from the horrible snapping and popping, I was disappointed in the durability of the high gloss finish. It was way too easy to create scratches, and even the smallest ones were ridiculously apparent. I think this was exacerbated by the Mocha Maple color that we chose, which is very dark. Also, the feel of this "high quality" laminate left something to be desired. Its now clear in my mind that there is just no substitute for real wood.
Which brings me to the subject of this post. I am now in the process of picking a "successor" to the Park Avenue that will be torn up, and I need GardenWeb's help to make sure the second time's a charm. So let me break it down:
1. Engineered or Solid?
This is the biggest decision to make. I'd like to know what will be best suited for my situation. I have concrete subfloors in the downstairs master, and also concrete substrate on the second floor too. I've read in several places that engineered wood is the only viable option for concrete, but I'm still not certain. In the master bedroom, it could actually be advantageous to raise the floor two inches, since that would even it out with the marble that is everywhere else downstairs. So does that mean solid wood might work?
2. What gloss?
We know for a fact that high gloss is out of the question. But I don't want to swing too far in the other direction as an overreaction. Will a medium gloss (semigloss) be enough to do a good job of hiding imperfections?
3. Does anyone have information on the Performance Plus line that Armstrong just released?
The claims are that the wood is treated with an acrylic-infusion process that makes it super durable and long lasting. It sounds gimmicky, but who knows until some unbiased opinions surface. Part of me wants to completely ignore such a new product, since I don't want any surprises this time around. I want something tried and true.
Overall, it's critically important that we get something low maintenance and durable. I don't want to be walking on eggshells in my home, and I want the floor to look good for more than 5 seconds after it is cleaned. I also don't want dents/scratches to be such a big deal. I guess this means that we should pick a wood that has a reasonable amount of character and variation. Right now it's just my wife, myself, and the dog -- so this shouldn't be a tall order to fill.
Budget - I spent about $3/sq ft. for the Park Avenue laminate. My current maximum budget is to pay about 3 times as much for the wood, so $9/sq ft. Hopefully that is enough to get a good quality product that will last a lifetime. I still don't know how much I will be paying for the installation, since it's such a different beast than the original install. I only paid $1/sq ft. with the laminate, but that was with bare concrete, no baseboards, and no furniture to move. Now they might have to remove baseboards, move around furniture, and rip out all of the laminate. I hope it isn't more than $3/sq ft., but I'll get another quote very soon.
I hope these details help, and I look forward to any feedback!