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Product Review - Hardwood Flooring

Company Background - Bruce
Bruce, now part of the Armstrong Group, has been in business since 1884, thats 123 years if my math is correct, so they must be doing something right. At last count they had 271 hardwood flooring products with 34 products in the $3.00 - $3.99 range alone, which is a very reasonable price for hardwood.

The thing to note when puchasing a new hardwood floor is the quality of the product. This includes the thickness of the wood, the finish on the wood and the attention to detail. This shows in Bruce hardwood flooring., the skill that is used to craft the finished product and in the capture of the natural beauty of the various woods used,  whether it is Oak, Cherry or other woods.
Using modern innovative technology Bruce has been able to keep up with the ever increasing demands for top quality products and have constantly added new products to its lines included engineered hardwood flooring and high quality laminate flooring.
As one of the biggest flooring producers Bruce is very proud of its efforts to sustain the environment via its tree replanting programs every year and following strict environmental guide lines and regulations.
Bruce has also been awarded the FloorScore Certificate from the Resilient  Floor Covering Institute. This means that their products have met or exceeded the low emission standards, will not affect indoor air quality and have passed a third party certification process.

Bruce has a wide selection of hardwood products. You may think that  a hardwood floor is never perfect, easy or uncomplicated. Well it is for the informed, the thoughtful and the educated.  That's the question - how to be informed, thoughtful and educated. The fact that hardwood is a beautiful product (made from a renewable resource) and that sales are climbing steadily across the country means that a lot of people are.

Standard Dimensions Solid Hardwood
  • Lengths: Random from 12" to 84"
  • Widths: 2 1/4"(most common) also from 1-1/2" strip to 7" planks
  • Thicknesses: 3/4"(most common) or 5/16"
Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Will the new hardwood floor be installed on-grade, above-grade or below-grade?
  • Will the subfloor be wood or cement?
  • Is there a chance moisture, humidity or condensation will be a problem, for example in a bathroom?
  • Do you plan to do as much of the work yourself as is reasonable? If so, what are your limitations as to skill level and time?
  • What wood species would you like to use? Ask this from an aesthetics/style point of view and from the practical side.
  • Are your budget constraints severe or do you consider budget secondary to achieving the look or durability that you want?

Questions that will lead you away from years of frustration. Lets tackle these head-on one at a time.

Hardwood floors are only as good as the subfloor they are installed over." Most solid hardwood flooring (example: standard 3/4" x 2 1/4" side and end-matched random length flooring) will need to be nailed-down or stapled-down for installation. This can be top nailing through the face or blind-nailed through the tongue. Therefore, the subfloor will need to be something that will accept and hold a nail or staple. Cement, of course, will not work. Particleboard is not recommended as it will not hold a nail. Plywood or Tongue and Groove decking products over joist are recommended for most installations. Note that existing vinyl floors, glued-down carpets etc. would not be suitable. So take them out and get down to the solid flat, level and dry subfloor. 

The optimum situation for installing a hardwood floor is on-grade, i.e. level with the exterior grounds height, on joist or a post and beam construction. One area to check is proper ventilation of the crawl space or basement below the subfloor you are installing over. Poor ventilation in this area will result in problems such as cupping or warping of the hardwood. This may not show for months or even years after the floor has been installed.

Solid wood floors are the most common. These floors are made of one solid piece of hardwood from top to bottom. This has the most familiar, more traditional "look" and the one which offers the biggest opportunity to create unique patterns.

Solid products are the most susceptible to moisture.

  • During months when interiors are heated, moisture evaporates; causing the floor to contract, leaving gaps.
  • In the summer months or during times of high humidity, moisture seep into the wood, causing it to expand or swell.
Installation Method: Solid Hardwood can only be installed as a nail-down/staple-down installation. Therefore it can be installed only over a wood subfloor. THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE ARE Bruce Natural Reflections Hardwood and Westhollow 5/16” Solid. These floors can be glued over concrete or stapled quickly over wood floors.

Engineered hardwood refers to products that are made of layers of wood bonded together to form one board. Three to five layers are bonded in a "cross grain" lamination process resulting in a dimensionally stable plank. These are not affected to the same degree by moisture as in the solid plank floors. The layers are formed with fingers, veneers or slats, creating a very stable and strong floor that does not expand or contract as much as solid wood. These floors can typically be installed above, below or on grade. A floating installation, direct glue down or staple down method may be used depending on the subfloor.



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