Amish made hardwood

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 Post subject: How cheap is too cheap?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:07 pm 
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This is my first house and my first post here.

We've had two estimates (Place A and B) so far for newly installed solid wood floors in our home. Both places were recommended by friends. We are doing all the prep work ourselves so it's just materials+install.

Place A walked through quickly using a traditional tape measure. Place B used a laser and estimates 70 sq ft more than A did. Both reps for measurements said the room I was concerned about was flat enough but neither used a level. Both recommend underlayment and moisture barrier since this is over a garage.

Additionally, while both are estimating similar $2.50/sq ft for basic install, Place A is recommending $3/sqft wood (cherry, birch or maple) which they say is solid hardwood and will last 50 yrs and be able to be refinished down the line if we decide to sell but didn't have a specific name brand or anything on the samples they showed me. Place B told me he doesn't like to sell solid wood under $5/sq ft due to quality issues and advises people to save up until they can afford the higher quality wood. Place B showed me wood in a range from $5-8/sqft with names on each sample (mostly Canadian mills). Both places have exotic woods that are really expensive and way outside our budget for what we will agree to put in this starter home.

Place B gave a higher estimate, by $2000-4000, depending on the exact wood we choose, and we actually liked the people at Place A better. They really listened to our concerns and desires and steered us away from some particular woods and towards others, explaining the rationale for that after listening to us. Place B had some sales folks show us the wood they had to offer but didn't ask us questions and couldn't talk about them intelligently (like their owner who initially came out to the house to meet me could). He had recommended a wood and they reluctantly brought it to us and mentioned they might come down a little on price depending on how much we buy, but continually pushed us towards their cheapest options which are $2 cheaper, but still $2 more/sq ft than Place A. Does that mean the subs who come to install might suck? They seriously could not talk about the wood at all.

Finally, the sample wood at place A looked better than the samples at Place B. I don't know if it's how they were laid out or if that even matters. They were just bad sales people at Place B and my husband didn't like them. But he didn't meet the initial guy who came out to the house (who I met and was great like the people at Place A!).

I don't mean to be a price/brand snob but is it possible we're being sold a very inferior wood if we're buying it that cheap at $3/sq ft at place A? And maybe Place A just has better sales skills? Is it wrong to pay more for a product to try to ensure better quality? Even the guy at place B, who I met initially and liked, said that wood is like buying lobster-- sometimes you can get it at $3.99/lb and other times it's up towards $10/lb so the cost varies at any given time based on demand and availability. Is that true?

We specifically avoided LL, HD and Lowe's (the big box stores locally) with the goal of getting quality wood and installation. You can't get hardwood at Home Depot for $3/sq ft. Is that a red flag? Local friends had bad experience with a well-received installer (who they also praised) that put in cherry from LL that warped and cupped in less than 2 years. I question how good their installer was if he couldn't recognize poor quality in the wood or prep the room correctly to ensure the job would last.

Last time we did a renovation on the house we went with the most expensive bid based on personality of the contractor who came out to the house, a recommendation from a friend who had used him, and the fact that they were really punctual getting an estimate back to us. Our contractor does big jobs though, not small ones but I guess it is possible I could call their office and ask them for a specific recommendation for wood purchase/installation.

Advice?


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 Post subject: Re: How cheap is too cheap?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:51 am 
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It's hard to decide on flooring only talking to sales people. They will only tell you what they can and prefer to sell.
The best way to decide is to ask for references of past jobs, not just pictures, but names and phone numbers of jobs done recently. Usually a happy customer will be glad to show off their floor.
Ask questions.


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 Post subject: Re: How cheap is too cheap?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:53 pm
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Thanks Pete.

I think we might go back to Place A and ask for references. Whatever we buy I want it to be the last time we have to purchase and install wood floor, even if we pay a little more. I thought we could ensure that buy paying a little more, and now I'm not so sure.

LL has only 1 local guy do it and many people like his work. But I know specific people who have had floors warp and go bad in their homes after he installed it. Shouldn't a contractor or installer be able to tell if the wood or surface is bad?

That's where I'm frustrated.


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 Post subject: Re: How cheap is too cheap?
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:05 pm
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If you're doing the prep how about taking on the install? Not too hard especially if you go with prefinished flooring. Pick your wood species, research manufacturers, buy on-line, get some tools and try it. You mentioned Canadian manufactured flooring.....generally well milled and high quality. I f you decide on a brand you can buy on-line and save $$$. If you have the time read a good book on the subject.....Charles Peterson's book on flooring is one of the best. Hardwood flooring is kind of a one-and-done thing so if at all possible don't rush into it....lots of homework.


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