Flooring Dilemna - what to do???

sweetbabyjames5June 18, 2011

I have about 2100sf of flooring where I would like solid hardwood to be put down. Unfortunately, this house is on a slab, and everyone who has bid on this project has recommended engineered wood. Now, I am not against engineered wood. My old house had it in the family room and that wood I despised, but I know there is some good quality engineered wood out there. I am a traditional girl - my heart was set on 2 1/4 unfinished white oak to be finished on site. It seems like almost all engineered wood has beveled or micro-beveled edges, which I do not like - at all. Square edges seem to be harder to find.

So, DH and I cannot decide what to do - should we have all current flooring torn out, sub floors put in, unfinished solid laid down -OR- do we take the advice of three unrelated flooring guys and go with the engineered wood (does anyone have a rec of unfinished or prefinished 2 1/4" square edge engineered that is good quality)?

This is our forever house. We will probably sell one day down the road when we can no longer go up the stairs or clean a house of it's size. That's at least 40 years away. I need a durable flooring that will withstand the test of time. I love solid hardwood. What do you think?

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Why not unfinished white oak engineered that is then finished on site. Yes, Virginia, it is made. The product was made by the Owens company and the product was called plankflor. I do not know the name of the compoany that took over the line, but a simple google search should reveal that info for you.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 6:47PM
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I found it and it looks like it could work. You must be familiar with this product, so now I have to ask what you know of the quality. I learned (the hard way) that not all engineered woods are the same. I want to make sure what we put down is great quality that can last a lifetime. THANK YOU so much for your response. I can't wait to check into this on Monday.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 10:59PM
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This floor if properly installed can last as long as a solid unfinished. It is not an inexpensive option, but will last as long as the solid. It has a 'wear surface' as thick as the 'wear surface' of a solid. This 1/4" top layer is a sawn veneer, so the appearance is exactly like a solid. It is the caddilac of this type of flooring. There is a similar brand, but the name escapes me.

Install it with the recommended adhesive for going on a slab. Don't cheap out on the adhesive! Test the slab for moisture content and migration. Mitigate any moisture issues with the slab and, if a moisture retarder is recommended, install one. These can be a liquid applied membrane or a physical membrane that is adhered to the slab. Lots of options here, but the product manufacturer will have installation instructions you can download for the latest guidelines.

Don't assume that your slab is flat enough for a new floor such as this. Test for flatness and grind down any high spots and fill any 'birdbaths' with a professional grade flooring underlayment compound that the manufacturer recommends. Don't cheap out on that either. Most true professionals will test for moisture and flatness and correct any deficiencies.

Finally, choose someone who is good at finishing wood floors and will do a top notch job with high quality professional finishes. The stuff you can buy at HD or Lowes is not in that category, although I have been informed that Lowes may begin to distribute BonaKemi professional use floor finishing materials soon, if they have not already started. Ask to see work that a finisher has done to know the level of work that finisher can perform.

You sound like someone who will get her ducks all in a row, so best of luck with this floor.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Now that I think about it...you are probably going to discover that the manufacturer will have do's and don'ts about what the product can be installed over. You may have to tear out all existing floor coverings.

Also, I have installed this product over 1/4" sheet cork underlayment to add a small amount of resilience and to thermally isolate the planks from the slab. Ask if that can be done and what the cost might be. This adds to the cost of the job, because you buy the cork, the adhesive and the labor to install that. Get detailed estimates from everyone.

I would be interested to know how you do with this, what you decide and the general prices you get for this work. My work is done mainly in the metropolitan NYC area and our prices are high compared with some other regions of the country.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:33PM
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Thank you so much for all of this information. It sounds like a great product. The installation instructions are available online, and I just looked them over. We have met with a couple of really great and highly recommended flooring guys, and I plan to contact them tomorrow to ask about this product and see what pricing will be like for labor, materials, etc.

If the existing flooring (a lovely mix of carpet, terrazo (sp?), wood, parquet, saltillo in a 2100sf area) needs to come out, would it be better to have sub floors added to the slab in each room and then lay unfinished solid hardwood? What would be the benefit of taking everything out and adding engineered wood over adding a subfloor and solid hardwood?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:03PM
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With engineered flooring you will have a much lower finished height. There will be practically no adjustments to make to doors, door frames and other building parts. If you go the new 'subfloor' route you will have a higher finished height and some adjustments to make.

There are lots of ways to install solid over a slab. The 'subfloor' that adds the least height is two layers of 1/2" plywood fit on the diagonal and loose layed. In other words, you have two layers of plywood running in opposite directions fit on the diagonal that is attached to each other, but not anywhere to the slab. Your flooring is then installed over that with the proper length fastener, so as to avoid punching through to the vapor barrier that is installed before the plywood is layed. Even though plywood is pretty dimensionally stable,expansion gaps should be provided at every floor and wall or floor and vertical surface juncture.

Flooring contractors like to use the engineered product, where it can be afforded, and even with wood 'subfloors' installed over slabs, as the product is a little more dimensionally stable and less likely to gap or even buckle over time.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Two of the three men who bid on this job wanted to remove all flooring, then put the engineered wood down. The third man wanted to put it right on top of the existing flooring. Is one way better than the other? DH and I were surprised by the third suggestion since the other two had not mentioned it as a possibility.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 8:10AM
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Remove all other flooring then follow glensfc advice.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:19AM
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I just had engineered hardwood put in on a slab and it looks gorgeous. The floor is virtually like a solid floor. We went with Lauzon Flooring and you can get white oak, if you'd like, with non-beveled edges if you'd like. The floors can be sanded at least two times if you ever need to.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:46PM
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I have quite a bit of experience with installing engineered unfinished floors here in Oklahoma. I have used Real Wood Floors (RWF) for the most part. Oklahoma is a slab market so it is all we do here in the city. Real Wood Floors is the easiest to use and they also carry their own glue which is super easy to use also. I would rip out the floor and subfloor that is down and put engineered over the top. I have used Owens, Shamrock, and a couple other engineered flooring products I have found that RWF's is the best for the thickness of the wood and the small amount of sanding that needs to be done with this product. I would 100% use the engineered product and Real Wood is the brand I would use, it is the premier engineered flooring product on the market. It's all we use in Oklahoma City. But whatever you end up using please go engineered.

Here is a link that might be useful: realwoodfloors

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 4:12PM
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