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Old 12-31-2009, 03:45 PM
 
Location: weddington
373 posts, read 1,411,297 times
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Anyone have any recommendations for hardwood floor installers. Please only personal experience...no solicitors.

Also, can someone tell me the advantages and disadvantages to having the floors stained onsite versus a prestained product.

Thanks
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Old 12-31-2009, 05:35 PM
 
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I can't offer up an opinion on installers as I ended up ripping out the remaining carpet in my house and doing it myself. However I can speak to the stained onsite versus pre-finished.

  • The biggest difference between the two is the mess it creates. If you go with sanded, stained and finished on site, then you have to deal with preparing for dust, noise, not being able to walk on the floors, and the resulting smell. In a new home not so much of an issue. In a lived in home it is a huge disruption. You basically have to move out for a while.
  • Pre-finished floors have more durable finishes. It's usually a number of layers thick and is baked on by processes not available with the on-site method. The end result is a floor, even in high traffic areas, that won't need refinishing for a long time.
  • Pre-finished floors are totally unsuitable for places where there will be water. Though you see it all the time, they should not be put in kitchens if you actually use the kitchen for cooking. They can't be mopped and will quickly become a maintenance headache.
  • Stained on-site is what should be used for a kitchen if you have to have hardwoods in the kitchen. (I recommend something else as it is trendy and impractical) They will be completely sealed so they can be mopped though you will need to use a finish that is made for this.
  • IMO, stained on-site does have a better look. You can approach this look with pre-stained wood but you will need to buy the better quality stuff that isn't beveled on the edges. The reason for the beveling is so they can use lower tolerances and therefore lesser quality wood.
Some other items to consider:
  • As I mentioned earlier, there is a wide level of quality in the wood used for wood flooring. The problem with purchasing the cheaper stuff is that you will have to throw out more of it during installation.
  • With pre-finished wood, you not only have to worry about the grade of the wood, but also the milling and edging quality. Don't cheap out on this as you will have a lot of loss. This means the deals you see at places like LL or tag sales at Lowes is not really a deal.
  • Take delivery of the wood and let it sit in your home for a couple of weeks at least. This will allow it to adjust to the humidity levels before it is installed. People don't do this and then see cupping on their floors later. No fix for it, and a lot of installers, especially builders don't do this.
  • If you go with an installer, make sure you cover the baseboards in the contract. Many times they will need to be pulled and raised too look right. The installer might skip this step because it is a lot of work. You will need to decide if this step is necessary or not depending on how the house was built.
  • Make sure you know what you are getting. The best stuff is the 3/4 inch solid wood. However this stuff can only be nailed down which limits it's applications to homes with suitable subfloors. i.e. no slabs, or homes where they cheaped out and used OSB for flooring instead of good plywood.
  • You will not be able to get the look of the historic homes of years ago because they used quarter sawn oak exclusively in those days. it's hugely expensive now and practically impossible to get. This is why you don't want to cheap out on the wood.

There is a lot to consider but hardwood floors are light years ahead of the best wall to wall carpet which I will never have in a house again. They will completely change the look of a home for the better. It's well worth the investment.

Last edited by lumbollo; 12-31-2009 at 05:46 PM..
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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Check out ACCENT Floors . I know the owner who is my neighbor. Tell him his boat buddy that lives across the street sent you. Excellant quality work.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:56 PM
 
Location: weddington
373 posts, read 1,411,297 times
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[quote=lumbollo;12246883]I can't offer up an opinion on installers as I ended up ripping out the remaining carpet in my house and doing it myself. However I can speak to the stained onsite versus pre-finished.


THANKS! Fantastic response. These are exactly the questions I had. I looked at Home Depot today and I did not like the edge ( I think what you are calling beveled). It seems to me like this edge would be very hard to keep clean. I am pretty handy...how hard would you say it is to install hardwoods yourself. It is a relatively new home so I am pretty sure the subfloor is OSB.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:58 PM
 
Location: weddington
373 posts, read 1,411,297 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nativechief View Post
Check out ACCENT Floors . I know the owner who is my neighbor. Tell him his boat buddy that lives across the street sent you. Excellant quality work.
Where is Accent located?
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:07 PM
 
3,071 posts, read 8,623,815 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolinaCruzes View Post
Where is Accent located?
Located off Freedom Drive in tank town. Google it "accent floors charlotte nc"
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:16 PM
 
4,010 posts, read 9,676,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolinaCruzes View Post
......

THANKS! Fantastic response. These are exactly the questions I had. I looked at Home Depot today and I did not like the edge ( I think what you are calling beveled). It seems to me like this edge would be very hard to keep clean. I am pretty handy...how hard would you say it is to install hardwoods yourself. It is a relatively new home so I am pretty sure the subfloor is OSB.
It's not hard, but I won't kid you, it is a lot of work. However I would estimate that it easily saved me $10,000 and I got the floor like I want it. If you do your homework it should be pretty straight forward. Basically you can break it up into 3 phases:
  1. Planning, ordering wood, purchasing needed tools and materials.
  2. Demolition
  3. Installation
I ended up ordering the wood off the internet. Most places selling wood will send free samples and this is what I ended up doing. They trucked the wood to the house and once off loaded from the truck, we moved the boxes inside. The trick here of course is figuring out how much wood you need. It's expensive so you don't want to overshoot it by much. You don't want to be under because you want all the wood to come from the same lot.

I was lucky as my home was built with 3/4 inch plywood subfloors so it was perfect for nailed hardwood. My other major expense was a pneumatic floor nailer. I already had an air compressor. The good news about these nailers is they are easy to resell so you can recoupe a lot of your investment. You will also need a miter saw, and various other basic tools.

For demolition, assuming you are removing carpet, you will need to figure out how to get rid of it. The municipal garbage collectors won't touch it so you will need to carry it to the dump or pay someone to take it. We ended up carrying it down to the recycling center which will take a truckload of construction debris for $18. Otherwise it's pretty simple to take up. Just cut it, roll it up, do the same to the pad and haul them out. Pull up the staple strips and vacuum and you are done. Other flooring is more difficult. We took up vinyl in a room that I tiled and the luan under it was an absolute b*... (well you know) to get up.

You need to pull some carpet up to verify what they used for the floor. If it is OSB then you have a problem. You can't nail hardwoods to it so you either have to go through the additional pain of putting down plywood, or go with another option that will work. Generally that means glue and some sort of composite wood floor. Putting down a plywood sub-floor will be significantly more difficult.

Once you have all that behind you then putting down the wood is not that bad. It comes precut in varous lengths and you simply go row by row until you finish the room. You will have to make cuts around doors. This part isn't bad at all.

Last edited by lumbollo; 12-31-2009 at 08:25 PM..
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Inactive Account
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Northern Mecklenburg might be fussier. But Charlotte waste services will pick up old carpet if it's cut in short lengths and tied in bundles.
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Old 12-31-2009, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Fort Mill
103 posts, read 231,511 times
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My 2 cents, although I'm not a professional flooring installer, I have installed solid hardwood flooring myself, and have refinished numerous wood floors in old houses (for my own properties, not for others):

If you see that your subfloor appears to be OSB, it will be OK to install solid, tongue-and-groove 3/4" flooring -- IF you have an additional acceptable subflooring material beneath the OSB, which is sometimes the case. However, even if you do have something solid beneath the OSB, you MUST ensure that the nails you use will be long enough to go through the tongue, OSB and then sufficiently into the solid sub-subfloor. We had this very situation in the house we live in now, and we had great success with our install.

Be careful with your terminology when dealing with flooring people. "Staining" is not the finish coat or urethane. Staining is exactly that--you apply a stain to wood to change the color. I think what you've been referring to in your posts is actually the clear top-coat, which is usually some sort of urethane material.

Factory finishes are much more durable than on-site finishing. In the factory, they apply several more coats that you would do yourself, plus the coats are sort-of baked on, if you will.

You can use hardwood flooring in a kitchen, either with a factory or on-site finish. And you can 'mop' hardwood floors. However, you should never use wood flooring of any kind anywhere there will be standing water; i.e., a bathroom. Kitchen spills should be cleaned up quickly (that goes for any flooring material). Personally, I'm messy in my kitchen, so I've always avoided putting wood in my kitchens. However, many people with floors in their kitchens love it.

When you do wash wood flooring, do so only with a barely damp mop, and dry off any water that does not quickly evaporate. Do not use cleansers. Just water with a little bit of white vinegar is the best.

The beveled edge you see on pre-finished flooring is mostly to account for possible irregularities in your subfloor. If you install the planks without beveled edges, and they do not each sit exactly flat across the floor, you would get 'lippage'--you could feel the edge of each plank. (You'll have this same 'lippage' with unfinished wood, but you'll be sanding it down, so it doesn't matter). So the bevel helps avoid this. I agree with you though--I don't like the look of the bevel, plus it does collect debris. Also, if you install a lesser grade flooring with this beveled edge, eventually you could see splinters forming along the edge as it wears if it's engineered wood with just a veneer on the top. If you go with a veneer, make sure it's as thick as you can afford.

I agree with the other post here, that installing hardwoods yourself is not rocket science. However, it is very difficult physically, especially if you're nailing it down and finishing it yourself. But you could save yourself a lot of money. Just make sure you do all your homework and prepwork. And buy knee pads. You can rent pneumatic nailers if you don't want to buy them. It just depends on how long the project will take. For a small project, renting might be best. We first rented and then realized it was going to take much longer than originally thought, so we went out and bought one. It was a better deal for us to buy--by the time we would have finished the floor using the rental, we would have spent more money than if we purchased one. Do not skimp on the nailer--get a really good, powerful one.

Somewhere here mention was made of 'cutting around the doorways.' Never do this. Maybe I misunderstood the intent of that recommendation. What should be done is, the door jambs should undercut. That way, the new floor 'disappears' neatly beneath the door jamb. I'm hoping this is what was meant, but I'm not sure.

Either way, hardwoods are the way to go--whether finished on site or in a factory, nailed or glued down, solid or engineered. Do not give in to the vinyl flooring craze--you will regret it in a few years, and you will not save money. Real hardwoods are worth it, and they immediately add class and real value to your home.

Whatever you do, let us know how it goes, and post pix!!!
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Old 01-01-2010, 04:50 AM
 
4,010 posts, read 9,676,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMYankee View Post
...
If you see that your subfloor appears to be OSB, it will be OK to install solid, tongue-and-groove 3/4" flooring -- IF you have an additional acceptable subflooring material beneath the OSB, which is sometimes the case.....
Great that it worked for you but this is extremely risky and I would not recommend it to anyone. No hardwood manufacturer will warrant the wood for a OSB underflooring. In fact, they all say don't do it in their documentation. It doesn't have the holding power and thus, depending upon the wood used, can result in the boards shifting a lot over the years due to humidity changes and most wood will end up cupping, badly, if there isn't sufficient holding power. This doesn't happen overnight and we are talking about a floor that should be lasting decades. 10 years from now if you are having to pull it up because of it, this is a considerable expense down the drain. Even if the OSB is sitting on top of plywood, which would be very strange construction, you lose that holding power caused by the inferior wood. As far as I know there are only two kinds of fasteners for 3/4 inch tounge and groove, nails or staples and their lengths are fixed.
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