Wood Floor Buyers Guide

What I think you need and want to know, to buy the best wood floor!

So I’m being a little presumptuous today and suggesting that this is what I think is important to you… at least this is what has been important to my clients for the last 30 years

  • A floor that looks beautiful today!
  • A floor that still looks beautiful MANY years into the future!!
  • … and a floor that is easy to take care of!

So we provide this information to help you sort out the real value in what you are buying and suggest that the “best price” is not always the “cheapest price”, when you think about the long-term use your floor will take. Enjoy…..


Is a wood floor’s quality the same as its grade?

No! It is somewhat misleading.

The National Hardwood Flooring Association, defines what a “Select & Better”, “select” or “#1” grade floor, is suppose to be. They define…

  • length of flooring boards
  • consistency of colour
  • number & size of allowable knots (although today the design trends are emphasizing a character grade that includes MANY knots to give a more rustic feel to the floor)
  • …all this will certainly help you determine a floors overall appearance but that’s it, It will not tell you anything about quality or durability!

The “grade” does NOT tell you …

  • how well it fits together.
  • how uniform the floor is in overall thickness.
  • how durable the finish will be? Will it withstand the dog, kids and rabbit?

Research the “brand name” and inspect a few floors that have been laid for a minimum of 5 years and that will be alot more helpful. You’ll then know how well the finish lasted. Visual inspection even of a two year-old floor will tell all!

Here’s what I think are the KEY signs of a quality wood floor?


FIT: accurate and tight fitting boards are key

Why? Water is the biggest threat to the long lasting beauty of your wood floor. If the individual floor boards do not fit tightly together, water will be able to filter through these seams and cause swelling, lifting of the finish and/or discoloration. Seams must be tight!

How will I know? Every store should have a few boxes of flooring that you could test fit. Just assemble a few planks and you will see instantly how well they fit. Are they warped in either direction? Are all the tongues and grooves in good shape? Do all the planks measure the same width? Is the good face free of defects (ie.dings or dents). Any boards you don’t like will become expensive firewood, and ultimately increase your cost per square foot.

If you are happy with all the boards in the box, then you know the floor has been made carefully.

It is also easy to tell if a floor is made accurately by studying one that has been laid down.


Evaluate for the following:
  1. Consistent width from one end of the board to the other. Check where three boards meet and see if there are any gaps. You should not be able to put a dime between any 2 boards of flooring.
  2. Are the ends of the boards cut truly square, so end to end they are tight? Water will penetrate through the ends as well as the sides. Ask the one that installed the floor, whether they had to retrim any of the wood.
  3. Are all the boards the same thickness, or does there seem to be a lot of unevenness? This can expose the unfinished end grain to excessive wear and water damage, and definitely not so nice to walk on…. your dog might appreciate the toe grip to tear around the house after the kids, but you may not appreciate the damage your four legged friend can cause to floor boards sitting a bit high.

Again, if you’re happy with all this, you are well on your way to buying a quality product.


Benefits of a Good Fit

Ease of Installation: A good fitting product will be easier to install. With less inaccuracies, it takes less time and skill. For the novice DIY this is a great asset.

Thus when you test the FIT as suggested above you are really making an evaluation about how easy it will install… more accurate machining= better fit = faster & easier installation

Little waste: Great fit equals less cost! Many floor products require you to factor in an amount for wastage. With accurate machining little is turned into firewood. Many brands require from 5% to 20% additional flooring to be bought, just to cover what they figure you’ll choose not to use. This ultimately makes the floor more expensive then originally thought. Ask the sales staff for an idea on what percentage you’ll need…. with Mirage hardwood flooring we suggest close to nothing extra.


Finish: Protects the wood from water damage… or NOT?

All finishes are not created equal, any more than all paints are the same. I’m sure you have bought the $20/gallon paint that required 5 coats to cover, and even then on the first washing it looked horrible. I know I have learnt that lesson.


Good paint costs more, but lasts longer. It is no different with flooring… and in fact maybe even more critical because you’re walking on the finish. Problem is, that cheap finishes and good finishes often look exactly the same in the box, before installation. That is why we have installed 1,000 square feet of flooring 15 years ago in the upper display area of our showroom. You have a look and evaluate it for yourself.

Here’s a finish that has suffered through 15years + of industrial traffic and still shines even in the doorways. Why is this important? Well, as one frustrated clients suggests:

“I bought a cheap import, thought I’d saved $2.00 per foot, then one year later had to have it refinished and it costs me $3.50 per foot to resand and recoat. Where’s the savings there?”  …. Gauthier, Sudbury ON


For more information:

Learn about the Mirage Technology, and why we believe it is the BEST Floor on the market today. Others must feel the same as it has won top honours every year for the last 10 years in the quality category as voted on by flooring retailers across North America.

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