The only wood floor sample I can't scratch easily is...

cinnamonsworldAugust 19, 2010

... a Lumber Liquidators brazilian teak sample with 'durafinish' on the back label.

I've collected a ton of samples of various woods now, and several more are wending their way through the postal system. We hope to decide in about a week what to go with.

In considering the Janka hardness scale, and looking at various options (we'd like a handscraped 5" chocolate ideally, with not a ton of grain, but we're very hard on our floors and want something we don't have to baby).

All the aluminum-oxide coated maple and walnut samples I've seen I can carve deep dents into easily with a fingernail. I will try to check the handstained walnut sample I have to see if it does the same. (From the Janka scale, it should ... unless it is the aluminum oxide coating that is really the thing that scratches easily.)

After the scratch test one of the samples I've ordered is an engineered Jatoba ... it is prefinished of course, but I'm curious to see if it is scratchable or not. If we were able to get the handscraped chocolate look that we want (that my husband wants most), maybe after all this an engineered wouldn't be so bad to consider.

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no offense meant but you will be most unhappy with any wood floor if your criteria for comparing is how you can scratch them. All wood will scratch. Your walking on the finish not on the wood itself. The Janka test has no correlation to the scratchability of wood. Most prefinished has pure urethane on the top with the aluminum oxide finish underneath. Its done so it can easily be recoated.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:26AM
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That is why I brought up what I did about the finish. Past experience and stories from acquaintances who run around with black sharpies fixing poor finishes tells me I certainly do need to pay attention to how easily a wood and its finish can be scratched, despite salespeople saying oh you'll be walking on it not using a fingernail. As with most other things, manufacturing standards and processes vary, and one company's finish may not be as good as another's.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 12:37PM
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From your tests and comments, you're really NOT going to be happy with a dark floor if you are "hard on your floors" and want something that won't show that wear. Dark floors are much higher maintainence and show every single ding and dust particle. You either have to be in love with constant swiffering, or be OK with dust showing 1 hour after you just finished dusting. The visible scratches (and there WILL be scratches in ALL types of wood flooring) will drive you crazy in a dark floor, especially one that doesn't have much grain to hide it.

Handscraped will also limit any recoating down the road to hand screening if you want to maintain that look. That's a lot more $$ than just using a machine. Resanding the floor to smoothness to refinish will eliminate the handscraped look as well. So, you're not buying a floor that will be easily or inexpensively maintained. It's basically a "single use" type of floor that when it wears a bit, will cost a lot to recoat or will have to be refinished.

Based on your expressed needs and your posted tests and comments, the floor that you can actually live with will be a medium dark non handscraped oak in a satin finish.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:04PM
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I am elated to hear from someone who has received several samples and tried them out, as I haven't had the time to do that. I would love to know if the LL BT is engineered or hard wood? I was looking for hard wood and then told that I would be better off going with an engineered wood because of Alaska's extreme climate changes. Now I don't know which brand to go with.

Look forward to your comments and thanks for all the leg work.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 3:07PM
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That LL was a hardwood. I'd recommend ordering a "free" set of samples by mail of things you are interested in. (They offer a $10 creit but charge $10 for 3 or 4 samples.) But would also google LL and issues that can arise with installing harder tropical woods like that.

It has a nice medium-to-dark finish and is not handscraped.. looks way harder and less prone to scratches than oak, maple etc.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 6:10PM
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The issue with scratch is how the aluminum oxide is applied. Normally the AO is applied as the 1st layer with numerous urethane coats on top. The urethane layers will scratch easily. If the AO is applied on top, it will be extremely difficult to scratch, however the finish is cloudy. There is a new method of technology that actually allows the AO layer on top with out the cloudiness. i watch an unbelievable demonstration the other day. The Canadians have invented this...Mirage and Lauzon to name a couple. Shaw has actually developed their version, but is only used on engineered hardwoods and a solid called Golden Opportunity. All of there products are scheduled for this Scuff resistant AO layer by years end. You can not test it on dealers samples yet as the dealer samples will contain the older method. I participated in a DEMO with it and it is impossible to mark with a key unless you go nuts on it. Steel wool does nothing to the finish. Very impressive. One big negative is no exotics on tap at all for this technology for a while. Janka means nothing when it comes to marking the finish. Janka is extremely overrated tool.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 1:00AM
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EchoFlooring, that's really interesting, thanks for the detail!

I see further that 'taber testing' may be one way to look at scratchability.

I'd still like a higher Janka-rated wood for overall durability and not denting the actual wood, but it would be nice to have the newer process that you mentioned seeing, where the outer layers of coating provide clarity and durability of the finish.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 2:00AM
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