Help me pick Engineered / Solid flooring!

Relleum_February 29, 2012

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!

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I studied hardwood flooring a lot when we wanted to put some in our kitchen. Here is what I found:
On damp concrete the only stable alternative is engineered. For ours we chose a 1/4 inch thick cork subflooring under the engineered wood to make it less susceptible to imperfections in our existing subflooring. It also makes standing less tiring. We chose a true sharp edged right angle joining because we didn't want to worry about kitchen droppings catching in the groves (bevils). That is harder to manufacture I understand so most makers prefer to use a bevil to hide minor imperfections. We went with a glued together joint floating system because that was what the Harris Tarkette line we chose recommended. We went with hickory because it is harder than oak and we occasionally drop stuff on the floor. The high end line we chose is finished in a lifetime or 50 year finish that has aluminum oxide hardener dissolved in the finish which is a blend of urethane and acrylic. That really has minimized abrasive wear. The only problem we have had other than an inexperienced installer is the bottle of super glue that got knocked over on it and no one realized it until after it had dried. Made horrible spots that I have had to use a razor scraper on to remove and I removed the finish in places. No fault of the floor. From what I read, the Harris Tarkett company fell on hard times and has started making shoddier engineered wood flooring. There is a site on the net where all flooring lines are discribed and rated and I will look it up of I have it bookmarked for you. I can't mention it on this site but if you will pm me I will be glad to let you know.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 2:50PM
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i don't know if I can say this much but one of the brands recommended was Award They mentioned MasterS Touch for distressed and Terra Bella for smooth. I think the site had a name like hardwood installer or similar. you might try googling those names and see what you get.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 3:54AM
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