So you are trying to choose what kind of flooring to pick out? Maybe we can help you with a little primer on some personality differences of reclaimed wood flooring from the perspective of a manufacturer like ourselves who specializes in making wood flooring from reclaimed lumber.
Did you see a picture that you like and now you have the bug that you want that special floor? The good news is that it could probably be made for you, but before you go a long ways down the path of choosing which floor you want and requesting a display room full of samples, ask about some price ranges. There is a common misconception that since reclaimed wood is supposedly salvaged it should be cheaper than ozola grīda. If you are buying a quality kiln dried and precision milled product, generally that is not the case. The only cost savings would be if you found some scraps or did some salvage work yourself, you might save some costs. For example you might find a gym floor or planks out of a barn hay loft that you want to nail down on your floor. The material might have been next to free, but how much time are you going to have in making it usable and pulling nails? Are the results what you want?
In this article we will be discussing several different categories of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is one board with no glued up laminations; it is basically wood board that has been sized and profiled to a certain dimension. Engineered flooring has a on the top whatever species and texture you want, and this is glued to a plywood backer on the bottom. Engineered is still all wood but is made with multiple layers that are laminated for better stability and dimensional accuracy. Floors that we will not cover here are laminates or any composite products which are often not wood entirely through the plank or may be made with a photo printed surface. We also will not cover vinyl, carpet, stone, or tile.
Hardwood flooring is often a generic term that could apply to any type of wood flooring. Hardwood trees (oak, maple, cherry, walnut, elm, chestnut) are generally trees that had leaves which fall off in the winter. Softwood trees (pine, fir) have needles that may stay on all year and usually they produce cones. Hardwoods are usually more dense and more durable than softwoods. Of course, there are exceptions to these generalities. In our product line the hardwoods cost more than the softwoods.
As a reoccurring theme in this article you will find that you often get what you pay for. Admittedly, the higher end price point products ($11+/sf) from more rare woods are not necessarily better quality but we find that up to that point quality improves with price. Our solid wood floors range in price from $4-9 per square foot and our engineered ranges from $7-15 per square foot. We will discuss applications below, but our point is that you need to have a realistic budget when shopping. Sometimes a nice alternative if you have your heart set on an expensive floor is to use less of it and put it just in key areas. Don’t do the whole house. Maybe just do the main high traffic areas and use a cheaper alternative in bedrooms..
If your price-point is not even in the same zip code, maybe it is in a different state, start shopping other options. For example if you are in the $1-2/sf range look at the deep discounters or laminate options. The FSC certified 12mm exterior birch plywood that we use to manufacturer the engineered flooring costs us that much alone, not counting all the other labor and materials.
Also when pricing a floor be sure to factor in the whole installed cost and the lifetime cost. Here are examples of some variables that could alter the total costs:
With reclaimed material waste factor is a huge variable. How much effort does the manufacturer take to give you a 100% usable product? Poorly milled with very little defecting and culling done on a solid wood floor that costs $6/sf and has a 15% waste factor actually costs more than a similar product that is milled better costing $7/sf with a 2% waste factor. That extra wastes costs more in shipping and labor to defect. This is one of the hardest things to demonstrate to a customer that the face value costs doesn’t necessarily represent the actual raw material cost unless one is truly comparing identical quality and specified products.
For the second variable here is a controversial opinion: we do not end match our flooring which means there is no tongue and groove on the ends of the planks. Since we recommend our floor be glued down we say this is an unnecessary expense for the customer. End matching reduces the yield in production and raises labor costs. Most end match profiles are milled so loosely that they really don’t hold the floor in place anyway. The biggest benefit to the installer is that the plank can be cut in half in any place and reused anywhere without have to mate up to a complementary tongue or groove since the end is just square cut. This means all end trim pieces or any waste can be reused. Therefore on our engineered flooring product the waste factor is virtually nothing unless there are angles or radiuses to work around. We also help with waste factor by usually supplying a random width product so when one gets close to the end of a room they can plan the width combination patterns out to not have to rip much off the last row.
The third variable is installation costs. Our engineered product has labor savings over our solid wood product because it is pre-sanded and milled to tighter tolerances. It is also prefilled in the holes and has next to zero waste. On the other hand you may have a little more in cost of gluing it down in addition to nails, but this is just a step in direction of better quality and peace of mind during the install.
Fourth, factor in the cost of refinishing the floor later or doing touchups. This is a whole another article. Some finishes can be spot touched up like some of the oils while others require a full sand over the whole floor. Some finishes require a professional installer and may have extreme odor during the cure. If you live with the floor for very long, factor these decisions in for the type of finish to choose for lifetime durability and the cost & effort to refinish