You may recall that our original plan for the wood floors was to sand and refinish them. When we sent our project out to bid we received mixed opinions as to whether they could be restored.
Warning: contractors will tell you what you want to hear and then tell you something different once they have been engaged.
In most of the rooms there were layers of linoleum flooring and underneath was pine sub flooring. We don’t know whether originally there was flooring over this that was removed at a later date to make room for the linoleum. The back parlor room floor (which will eventually be our kitchen) had oak flooring on top of the pine sub floor that we really wanted to save. To make a long story short our new project manager came to us a couple of weeks ago and said that if they sanded and stained the flooring on the parlor floor i.e. the pine in the living room and oak in the kitchen they would not match, would be on different levels and we would not be happy. We did not put up much of a fight since we kind of knew this.
We had always thought we would use new flooring on the first floor but got into a disagreement with the previous project manager about price (he wanted to charge us an additional $16 a square foot to install new wood flooring in addition to the thousands already budgeted in the contract. After we said we would not pay then he said then they would sand and refinish them.
Now that we are dealing with a more reasonable representative from the company we came to an agreement and looked into purchasing the flooring ourselves so there would be no mark-up.
Floors tend to come in three grades, select (uniform color, for or no knots), natural (color variations, some knots) and rustic/country (lots of color variation). We both agreed that natural or rustic was our choice.
We found ourselves most attracted to natural maple and hickory but we were concerned that the modern look of a light Maple would clash with the period features of the house. The other issue was that we could not get the grade (rustic), size (4-5 inches) and finish (matte) we wanted from any of the companies that sold maple.
We also liked the look of hickory and there were more options for width sizes. It looks great close up but the color variation tends to look a bit stripey when laid down on an entire floor.
We went to Lumber Liquidators and liked Tobaccoa Road Acacia but were concerned that it was too strong of a color (see below).
You would think in NYC that there would be lots of flooring places. Turns out there are not that many and the worst part is that most of them are only open Monday to Friday. In fact, many building supply places have those hours which make it difficult for working homeowners.
Next, we tried Queensboro Flooring where we purchased laminate floors for our rental unit. It has a good selection and they do have some Saturday hours. Unfortunately, we did not see anything there we liked.
At this point, we were starting to get a little panicked because we did not want to choose something we did not love. Floors affect the entire look of the house and they are expensive and a pain to replace later if you don’t like them. Then we found PC Flooring (and they are open Sundays, mechayeh!), which had a good selection and helpful staff. There were floors at $12 per square foot that we loved but we were trying to stay on budget. The other problem we encountered was the fact that we did not want a shiny finish and most floors come prefinished and many do not offer a matte finish. We were concerned about our contractors ability to stain unfinished floors well (this was before we fired the subcontractor). You know you are in trouble when they say you will need a skilled floor person to finish these and you think, no not our contractor.
Then we found Australian Cypress and both agreed that that was our floor. It’s allegedly grown on a sustainable basis as a part of the Australian Farm Forestry Program. Its Janka rating is 1350, meaning it is harder than Teak and Red Oak.
It comes in the 5 inch planks that we wanted and our only compromise was that we could only get in a satin finish rather than matte but renovation is all about compromise. It was a little more expensive than we had planned but we are getting used to that.