Discount flooring liquidators and home improvement stores often choose to sacrifice the quality of wood or workmanship to reduce their manufacturing cost. Don't be fooled if the discount wood flooring appears roughly similar to fine wood flooring at the first glance. Here are important things to consider:
Hand-Scraped Flooring vs. Machine Scraping
Most hardwood flooring advertised as "hand-scraped" these days isn't hand-scraped at all-it's scraped by machines to appear hand-scraped. The patterns and marks are repetitive, and look "fake" when spread across your floor at home.
Palmetto Road flooring, on the other hand, is truly hand-scraped flooring. Hardwood floor artisans, personally trained by a world-renowned expert, "read" each board and use hand tools to bring out its unique personality with distinctive, natural-looking hardwood characteristics.
Read more about true hand-scraped hardwood flooring >
Floor finish is a critically important step for hardwood flooring. The finish must be durable and elastic to resist scratching and wear, without clouding the natural grain and color of the wood. A poor floor finish can make even the most beautiful wood look dull.
Quality hardwood flooring has a high-quality floor finish, with a fine transparency that accentuates the natural beauty of the wood grain. Cheap hardwood floor finishes obscure the natural grain of the wood with a cloudy coating; scratches on the wood floor make this whitish coating readily apparent. Cheap hardwood floor finishes are also inconsistent in color, and can have rough surfaces with small raised bumps.
Read more about the importance of the floor finish here >
Hardwood Floor Creaking
With quality hardwood flooring, the gap between the "tongues" on board edges and the grooves they fit into is less than 0.15 MM. This tight attachment eliminates the creaking you find with cheap hardwood flooring when it is walked upon.
Quality hardwood flooring is milled using expensive, high-end machines for extreme precision and consistency in height, length, width, edges and ends. Bargain flooring is manufactured using less expensive and precise machines, resulting in gaps between board edges and ends, as well as differences in thickness.
Floor Glue Safety
Quality hardwood flooring uses Taier E1 glue between layers, with a very low level of formaldehyde. Palmetto Road flooring, for example, conforms to CARB, with a formaldehyde level far below its guidelines. Vapors from cheap glues can be harmful to your health!
Good quality engineered hardwoods use a veneer core with higher-quality tropical woods alternately layered in a crisscross pattern, for superior weight-bearing strength and screw-holding ability. The gap between each layer should measure less than 1mm. A quality engineered floor has higher density and is more durable than cheap plywoods, regardless of how similar they look on the surface. Learn about engineered flooring vs. solid wood flooring here.
With quality hardwood flooring, you can count on the exact thickness claimed for its wear layer. But as thinner wear layers are less expensive to produce, cheap flooring is often found to have a wear layer that is thinner than what is claimed.
Longer Wood Plank Length
Long planks are more expensive to produce, but make a more beautiful floor. Short boards can look like shoeboxes when placed in a floor. Cheap wood flooring typically includes too many short planks, with boards as small as one foot in length. But quality hardwood flooring uses longer planks. Palmetto Road, for example, includes boards up to seven feet in length, with the average being over three feet.
Hardwood Floor Defect Rate
Cheap flooring has a higher rate of defects. Palmetto Road inspects every board and discards those with unattractive defects
Cheap flooring is plagued with inconsistency in color, grain, texture and scraping. Our quality control experts match each batch for consistency in these important features.