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Our Wood Floors

By House*Tweaking on Sep 26, 2012

I get a lot of emails asking how we’re liking the engineered hardwood we installed in the majority of the house. I haven’t been avoiding the questions. I just wanted to live with the floors for a while before I gave my two cents. So, here ya go…

They are the Jasper handscraped birch in the texas brown finish. We bought them with our own money at $2.04/sq ft through Build Direct after receiving a recommendation from a reader about the online flooring site. We installed them ourselves in the great room {kitchen + family room}, hallway and all three bedrooms. We used an underlayment – also from Build Direct – that provides added insulation value, acoustic insulation and a moisture barrier.

The underlayment and engineered wood are installed on top of a concrete slab. {We have no crawl space or basement.} It is a floating floor but NOT a snap-and-click installation that you might expect. Each plank is glued to all of its neighbors. There’s a lot of glue and back-breaking time in the floor. If we had to do it all over again, I think we may have shelled out the extra cash to buy something with a similar aesthetic but an easier installation method. HOWEVER, if we had a subfloor instead of a concrete slab, we would use the Jasper birch again since we could easily nail it into the subfloor. That’s not to say we wouldn’t recommend using it on a concrete slab. Just know installation is going to take about 3x longer than the easier snap-and-click method. Consider yourself warned. Hehe.

It’s been nine months since the floors were installed. As far as aesthetics, we absolutely LOVE the wood floors. I’m a high contrast sort of gal so I like the dark wood with the white trim and light wall colors. In natural light they have more of a brown hue while under artificial light they take on a reddish tint. I like them both.

Everyone asks if they show dirt and dust. Yes, they do. But now that I’m no longer living with any carpet, I keep thinking about all the gross stuff that was clinging to the carpet in our previous homes that I never saw. I sweep up the kitchen with a broom daily. But I did that before with light vinyl in our previous kitchen. Then once or twice a week or whenever I can no longer stand it, I sweep up all the dust bunnies throughout the rest of the house. When I notice the floors looking dull, I bust out my Bona cleaner and soft mop to get them shining again. Super easy. {Btw, thanks to all of you who recommended Bona over Murphy’s oil. I love it!} That happens maybe once a month.

How are the floors holding up? Well, they’ve have seen a lot of traffic. We’ve had movers and a plumber with dollies in and out of the house, guests, kids running around and tons of things dropped on the floor.

Unfortunately, we also had a flood scare when the pump on our A/C failed and water leaked under the wood floors and they had to be put on life support.

Even with all that {!}, the floors have held up nicely. Are they in perfect condition? No. Like with any wood floor in a home with small kids, there are scratches, dents and dings. But I was expecting that. We adhere to the ‘no shoes in the house’ rule and we don’t have any house pets.

The handscraped texture does a good job of disguising the imperfections that do turn up. I keep a dark wood touch-up Sharpie handy for deeper scratches and dents that works wonders.

Probably the area of hardwood flooring that sees the most abuse is at the eat-in kitchen island. The boys routinely drop food, silverware and drinks here. It still looks great though.

The flooring in the hallway and entrance to our master bedroom was affected by the aforementioned water leak but it hasn’t warped, rippled or buckled.

Thank goodness! It could be that we acted quickly to dry out the floors and remedy the situation or it could be that the underlayment did its job {the water actually seeped under the underlayment} as a moisture barrier or it could be a combination of those two things. We’ve since had the restoration company back out to test for moisture and the wood floors are dry nearly two and a half months later. Yay! Now we can finally put the baseboards back on.

So, would I recommend the Jasper birch to others? Sure but with some stipulations:

*Birch is a softer wood so I wouldn’t recommend it for homes that have indoor pets with long claws/nails.

*A ‘no shoes in the house’ rule keeps the wood cleaner longer and you avoid scratches from small rocks caught in the soles of shoes. If you routinely wear high heels in the house or any other type of shoe that could easily dent up the wood, then I would suggest buying a harder wood.

*If you are installing on top of a concrete slab, please be aware that this flooring does NOT feature the snap-and-click method. If you’re installing on top of a subfloor, you’re good to go with a nail gun.

*For higher traffic areas, such as a mudroom, I’d suggest a more durable flooring.

*Use area rugs to protect the floor in busy areas: family room, kitchen, entry.

Basically, if you have a house full of cats and wear high heels all day at home then look for something else.

Do you have any other questions about our engineered hardwood floors?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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