Choosing our hardwood floors

Monday, October 22, 2018

When we purchased our new home, we knew the first project we would do would be installing new floors throughout the home. This was an easy decision for us for two reasons:

1) The flooring in the home was 32 year old carpet, and not in good shape. I don't care for carpet outside of bedrooms in general, but especially not old, dingy carpet. We factored this change into our offer price on the home and knew it was something we would undertake right away.





2) Re-doing any kind of flooring when you're living in a space is massively disruptive. You have to move out, empty the room of everything, make a huge mess, clean up the mess, move back in... it just was going to be way, way easier to do this work before we moved in. We were lucky our buyers allowed us to rent our old home back for 3 weeks so we could do it before moving!

Once we'd made the decision to re-do the floors, we had to weigh our options about what we would put back in it's place.  I sell homes in this neighborhood all the time, so I knew what buyers would expect to see and what would set our house apart (the goal, obvi). I also know what would disappoint buyers in terms of flooring if/when we re-sell this home at some point in the future.

Our neighborhood is full of classic, colonial style homes. They were all built in the 1980s, before laminate, vinyl, or engineered flooring were a glimmer in their mothers' eyes. So, the idea of any of those types of flooring was a non-starter to me, since they really just don't fit with the feel and time period of these homes.

That left us with choosing between pre-finished and site-finished hardwood floors. Pre-finished flooring is exactly as it sounds -- it's stained and sealed in factory, and then installed. There's no sanding or staining when you get these, so it's great for a quick turnaround. The thing I don't like about pre-finished floors is you can see the grooves between each plank, and you're limited to the color selection available.


Site finished flooring gets installed the same way as pre-finished floors, but they come back through and sand down the grooves so you don't see any of the lines between the planks. It has such a beautiful, smooth finish. Plus, you can choose any stain under the sun, combine them, mix it, make it perfect, etc.  It takes more time because the floors have to cure for a few days once they're installed, but it gives you a lot more flexibility and a higher end finish, in my opinion! With our installer, the cost difference between site finished and pre-finished floors wasn't that much, and since we're already investing a lot in this project,  we wanted it to be exactly right. We ended up choosing to do site finished floors.


I got bids from 5 different flooring contractors - a few big companies, a general contractor, and then a a recommendation from a coworker (who ended up being the guy we selected.) The company we chose is a small one-man (plus his crew) operation called Badderas Flooring here in Durham. Because he doesn't have any overhead, his prices were thousands of dollars below the other bids. His estimate came in nearly half what I had expected, and included a lot of extras like installing sunken air registers and our refinishing our stairs. Even better, his low estimate came in super handy when half-way through we added demo'ing our kitchen tile onto the scope. Since we had set aside more than we needed, we were able to comfortably add that project on without worrying too much. Best. Decision. Ever.




We haven't changed anything about the cabinets (yet) but removing the tile has majorly toned down their orange-y tone already! 

Part of the flooring process I hadn't expected was how many choices I would have!  I had to figure out which kind of wood, what size plank, and what stain I wanted, so, I turned to the internet and did a lot of research. We chose Type 1 Common white oak flooring. I love how the white oak is so subtle, and provides a warm, but neutral tone under any stain. Red oak is nice too, but definitely gives off a red tint. I preferred the neutral tone of the white oak, so that's what we went with. The options were Type 1, Type 2, and Select. Type 1 was the most recommended, since it's the "upper middle" tier. It has some great coloration, but fewer knots. The select is "higher end," but I love the subtle shading and color in our Type 1 boards so I'm glad we chose what we did! 



Once we had our boards selected, it was time to choose a stain. Let me tell you,  it is really, really challenging to pick stains off of swatches because they really do look different in every king of light and on every wood type. I relied heavily on inspiration pictures from some of my favorite bloggers, like these here, since their styles are similar to mine, and I knew I trusted their design choices.

@jennakateathome 

@younghouselove

 I had also recently seen a few clients go through installing and refinishing their floors, and conveniently all of these people (bloggers above too) had chosen the same stain -- a beautiful, medium brown tone called Provincial. This is a really versatile and classic stain that looks great in different kinds of light and goes well with a lot of colors. I tend to have a cooler palate, like my blogger inspiration above, and loved how the warmth of the brown balanced out the cooler blues they used in their homes.  I was heavily leaning towards this stain, but I wanted to be sure so I had my flooring guys do some samples for me to compare.




I'll be honest, putting the samples on the floor like this only confused me. They all looked good, they all looked so different....and yet also exactly the same. It was hard to distinguish between them, but the flooring guys recommended the Provincial as well, since once it's sealed it's got a richer tone. I trusted their judgment since it was already what I had thought I wanted, so we stuck with that choice!  Dark Walnut had me 'miring though!

Okay, the finished product...








Guys, look how gorgeous this is. We still have to finish the trim, vents and quarter round, so these aren't "finished-finished," but I am so, so happy with how this turned out. I can't recommend our flooring installers enough. If you are looking to re-do your floors in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, let me know and I'll send you their contact info. They worked SO hard, cleaned up really well, made great suggestions, and had all of this done in less than 2 weeks.... even with adding on a whole room to the scope!

Next up will be the carpet replacement upstairs. Now that the popcorn ceilings are scraped, they are ready to go and will be removed on Friday! I know when it comes to investing in our home, this flooring upgrade will be the best money we spend. It really brings out the classic, colonial personality of our home, and it makes me happy. While I can't help considering resale value with everything we do (fault of the trade), sometimes, it just comes down to what YOU love! And let me tell you, Spenser better watch out because I am in love. 



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