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WestBentley 01-16-2007 09:21 AM

Prefinished hardwood flooring?
Has anyone had experience installing prefinished hardwood flooring? My parents bought some about two years ago and it's a nightmare - it's totally scratched up and you have to be neurotic about not spilling liquids (it's in their kitchen and dining room!!) because the liquid will get between the cracks and make the wood swell up under the finish.

My fiance and I are going to have to replace hardwood flooring in the fixer upper we bought, I'd like to stick with hardwood and am trying to figure out what our options are and what the costs will be. I'd love to do bamboo, but I hear it's far too expensive.

CraigFL 01-16-2007 11:00 AM

I put prefinished hardwood flooring in the kitchen 6 years ago. It's a mess because of the wear/water damage. I had tile before but when someone dropped a glass, it turned to dust. Now the glasses don't break but just spread liquids all over. I may try a laminate floor--wood lookalike.

glennjanie 01-16-2007 11:00 AM

Hello Julia:
Our house has original hardwood (1956) everywhere except the kitchen and baths. The kitchen has sheet vinyl and the baths have ceramic tile (floor and 4' of walls). These rooms are going to have spills on the floors and I don't think it is any place for hardwood; Laminates will give the look of wood and the wear of plastic without any bucking or loosing the finish.
Pre-finished hardwoods are usually stained and clear coated with a variety of finishes. The stain dramatically highlights scratches which makes me want to go with a natural finish. Then you can strip the floors with a commercial buffer (with a fine sanding disc) every few years and refinish with polyurethane varnish. Our hardwood floors will outlast me by several years.

WestBentley 01-16-2007 11:31 AM

Our hardwood is currently in the hallway and dining room, and I'd love to keep it there. I know I spill much less at the dining table then I do in the kitchen, but we do have a sliding glass door going to the backyard and I don't want to end up like my parents, obsessing over minor amounts of dirt and water.

Sounds like my instincts were right, avoid the pre-finished stuff, and install unfinished that I can sand and finish myself so I can refinish it when it gets scuffed rather than starting over. I say "I" but I probably mean Aaron, lol ;)

Anyone had experience with bamboo floors?

CraigFL 01-16-2007 11:44 AM

Be aware that you can sand and refinish most of the prefinished floors at least one time--some two times.

glennjanie 01-17-2007 12:08 PM

Hi Julia:
You could make a 2' x 6' area of ceramic tile in front of the sliding door to save the hardwood. Just a thought.
I may have misled you too far about the natural finish; I meant to say you would probably want to use a natrual pre-finish. That could be buffer sanded at 5 year intervals and look real good. The old fashioned hardwood would be a lot of work and heartaches to get laid and finished. We can go lighter on poor Aaron.

WestBentley 01-17-2007 12:36 PM

LOL.. well we've gotten a lead on some really nice red oak from a local supplier. It's the locking grooved kind. Aaron's parents put it into a room roughly the same size as our dining room themselves, and they are both on permanent disability, so I figure if they can manage, we can too. They happen to have 2 left over bundles from when they did their floor which should be enough to cover our hallway, plus as a bonus, the supplier is having a sale!

For a 12X12 room, it's $2.69/sqf, and 18.66 sqf per bundle, so we are looking at around $400 dollars. It's 4" red oak, unfinished. His folks said sanding it a little after it's laid and then polyurethaning it were no sweat. Do you think their memories have rose colored glasses on?

glennjanie 01-18-2007 09:41 AM

I couldn't comment about the rose colored glasses but professional hardwood people use a high speed drum sander to even it up. It takes several sandings with different grit sandpaper. The biggest problem with the drum sander is keeping it from digging in where you start each pass of sanding.
One thing I learned by experience (although my Son told me so) is that the waterbased polyurethane will not hold up; use the oil based kind for endurance and make that several coats.

WestBentley 01-18-2007 10:05 AM

Hmm, now I'm getting conflicting info (from my previous info, not yours) that prefinished is better because they treat it with aluminum oxide so it's impossible to scratch, and water can sink in even if it's hardwood that was poly'd over. Aaron and I will be visiting the hardwood store together this weekend to try and figure out which way we are going. They have the wood I like in prefinished for $2.89 and we can choose a stain color to match our cabinets (hopefully) without having to stain is ourself taht way...

glennjanie 01-19-2007 10:26 AM

The stain is the problem, it highlights the scratches. That's why I like the natural finish.

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