Why is there such a broad range of prices on hardwood flooring? And how do I decide if I’m really getting a good deal, when they can range all the way from $2.00 to $20.00 per square foot?
Hardwood flooring manufacturers have different goals in mind when they set out to produce a product. Some manufacturers set out to produce the best darn product that they can, no matter what, and then do their best to keep the costs to a minimum, given what they feel they need to do to produce that product. Other manufacturers set the price point they want to hit, and produce whatever they can with those dollars. Neither manufacturer is ‘trying’ to get the price up, but there is a broad range of choices that are made all along the way.
One of the choices that manufacturers make is what quality of wood they will buy. The closer to the top of the tree, the cheaper the wood will be (and the more knots there will be.) Then the wood is sorted into grades, with the cleanest grade being the more expensive version. How they cut the log up will also determine the look and the price point—rotary peeled wood is ‘rolled’ through the saw, and creates a veneer with a different appearance than a sawn cut face.
Another choice than must be made is in the quality of the plywood layers that support the top wear layer. And the thickness of the top wear layer can be anything from ½ mm, to 5mm.
Aesthetically there are many choices from a narrow strip look of 2” wide boards to a wide board that may be as wide as 9-12”. The surface may be smooth, or it may be hand-scraped, chiseled, distressed or wire-brushed.
Finally, there are several types of finishes that can be applied to the hardwood, the most common two types being Oiled UV cured finish, or Aluminum Oxide Urethane finish. Additionally, not all the finishes have the same quality, and it may be very difficult for the homeowner to determine this on his own. Ultimately, they will scratch and wear differently.
A good retailer should be able to determine exactly what your personal needs and budget are, and they should be able to direct you to the best choice for you, given your taste, budget, and lifestyle. This will involve answering a number of questions, so they can properly guide you through the hundreds of choices available to you. They should be able to show you the differences in each product, and help you understand your choices, so you can make a smart buying decision, whether it’s at the lower end or the higher end of the price spectrum.
Internet shopping can be a good place to start to educate yourself, but the final buying decision will involve many personal variables that are best selected after discussion with an experienced professional that can help you choose a product that is best suited for your individual needs.