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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Floor From Anyone
Virtually all Joinery Company products are made from either reclaimed or specialty woods; The Joinery Company`s main product and primary focus is Wide Plank Flooring. Reclaimed and specialty woods can produce the most beautiful, durable, and valuable flooring in the world. Whether the finished product is to be in solid plank or engineered, the realization of this potential depends on the knowledge and expertise of the manufacturer. There is a very short list of companies who are able to process reclaimed woods correctly. There are equally few companies that manufacture high quality engineered products from reclaimed and/or specialty woods with an eye toward quality and beauty rather than mass production. The Joinery Company offers all of its flooring products in both solid and engineered forms, in both reclaimed and specialty wood species. The following information is offered to help you know what to look for in order to make an informed decision as you peruse our website and others.
Processing Reclaimed Wood is an Art.
Many customers assume that the manufacturing of reclaimed wood is very similar to the manufacturing of ordinary pines and hardwoods. This is not true. Processing reclaimed wood requires many extra steps in manufacturing and far more technical knowledge of wood in general, especially with regard to its aging under stress. Simply cutting, drying, and milling regular logs is relatively simple with regard to the amount of technical expertise required of a manufacturer. It is far more difficult to process reclaimed wood correctly.
All Companies are not the Same.
Unlike the hardwood flooring industry, there are no uniform standards or guidelines to govern manufacturers in the reclaimed wood flooring industry. Almost every company has different grade names, descriptions, and specifications. This is very confusing to customers and makes it almost impossible for them to compare the quality, price and value of products from different companies on an “apples to apples” basis. There are a lot of clever salespeople in this industry. If the customer does not thoroughly educate himself and ends up buying an inferior product, he may have no recourse other than taking a loss because the company from which he purchased may have neither the inclination nor the resources to protect the customer. For many companies in this industry, the major focus is on marketing and not on guarantees. For these reasons, many customers have learned the hard way that reclaimed flooring is a “buyer beware” industry.
Processing Shortcuts are Common.
Over the last 35 years, the reclaimed wood flooring industry has grown to more than 400 companies as the demand for Green building products has surged. Today, the industry has grown to the extent that almost anyone can buy a few reclaimed timbers and subcontract the sawing and milling to a local sawmill or hardwood flooring plant. Even though these individuals and/or their subcontractors may have little, if any, knowledge of recycling, they can produce a flooring product that may look like the real thing… although several important steps in processing have been left out. Many companies may be running outdated equipment and producing a poorly milled product which shrinks badly because it is not kiln dried. Often problems are compounded by failure to correctly remove defects in the wood. These and many other manufacturing shortcuts can expose customers to serious liabilities. Initially, customers may be enticed by claims of the same quality with a much lower price. This is a very common tactic in many industries. In reality, prices are most often lowered because of “shortcuts” which have been taken during the manufacturing process. Education is the only form of insurance in the reclaimed wood flooring industry.
Major Problems are Hidden.
Specific problems that occur with reclaimed materials on a regular basis are as follows:
- (a) Reclaimed wood which has not been properly kiln dried can have insect larvae present in the finished product. These larvae can lie dormant for months and later hatch out in your home after installation. Some companies may offer very reasonable sounding excuses for “air drying” or “age drying” rather than kiln drying. “Air dying” or “age drying” is not acceptable. Failure to kiln dry is dangerous and may result in huge liabilities for the customer.
- (b) Reclaimed wood which has not been kiln dried can shrink excessively and render a floor that has cost the customer thousands of dollars, virtually useless. Kiln drying is an absolute must.
- (c) Skipping the critical kiln drying step will result in exposing fewer cracks and fractures that are always present in reclaimed timbers. This means that the yield from the wood is much greater for the manufacturer and the price can therefore be much cheaper. The important thing to know is that as reclaimed wood thoroughly dries to 8-10% moisture content; it will eventually expose these cracks anyway. It is much better to expose these potential defects before the wood has been milled into flooring rather than afterwards. In this way, unacceptable cracks and other hidden defects exposed by kiln drying can be removed, and the customer is not paying for waste.
- (d) A splintering defect called “diagonal shake” is very common in reclaimed Antique Heart Pine and other recycled woods. This can cause serious injury if not cut out during processing. Diagonal shake can be very difficult to detect if materials are not processed properly or if the manufacturer is not sufficiently skilled. The presence of diagonal shake can produce huge liabilities for the customer.
All Engineered Floors are Not the Same.
In today’s modern, complex building industry, there are many projects with concrete subfloors which dictate the use of engineered flooring products rather than solid flooring products. Although there are a few high quality engineered flooring products on the market, there are far more cheap, low quality ones. For this reason, engineered floors are sometimes frowned upon by customers who consider them to be fakes. One of the most common engineered floors in America is made with a picture of a piece of wood printed on paper and laminated between two very thin pieces of plastic. Many other types of engineered floors fall into two categories. The first type is manufactured using a series of short pieces of wood cut from low grade, solid materials into faces and then arranged into one large composite face which looks like bricks laid in a running bond pattern. This process yields a product generally referred to as “two-strip” or “three -strip”. The many pieces of wood in any given face are usually very narrow and very short. The second type uses thin, “veneered” faces. Many manufacturers of engineered floors use veneered faces for their top layers which are “peeled”. This means a log is rotated against a sharp blade and thin pieces of wood are peeled off. (Imagine a roll of paper towels). This method produces “sheets” of veneers with grain patterns which have the general look of plywood. Many customers buy this “plywood” floor because (a) they have a concrete subfloor (b) because the plywood look is so prevalent and (c) because this product has been marketed so hard as “the answer to concrete installation”. The big problem is that most consumers are not aware that they have an alternative. THEY DO!
Look for Engineered Floors with One-Piece, Solid, Sawn Faces.
Engineered floors with these characteristics are the best products, and they are the best value in the marketplace. They are equally as good as solid flooring products in every way. In many ways, they are actually superior to solid wood flooring while being less expensive.
Few Companies Have a Complete Line of Engineered Floors of the Quality.
All of The Joinery Company’s engineered floors have one piece, thick, solid, sawn face layers which are produced in much the same way that our solid planks are produced. Sawn faces do not look like plywood! Every single plank in every one of our engineered floors has all of the same beautiful characteristics as our solid wood flooring.
The Value of Stability in Your Floors.
Each of our engineered floors is made with multiple layers of cross bonded wood with a one piece, thick, solid, sawn face layer. This type construction virtually eliminates problems associated with the natural tendency of wood to expand or contract as interior humidity changes. Thus, the design, construction and dimensional stability of our products give you tremendous installation flexibility. All of our engineered floors can be nailed down, glued down or floated in.…even directly over a concrete subfloor!
The Truth About Re-sanding Your Floors.
Many customers take for granted that standard, solid flooring always lasts longer because it is 3/4’’ thick. This is not true! Most standard flooring can have only about 1/8’’ sanded off its surface because of the placement of its tongue and groove. After more than 1/8’’ is taken off the surface of solid wood, the groove side gets very thin, which can cause it to crack off and fail. In truth, if The Joinery Company floors are sanded properly, they can be sanded 3 to 5 times, and can last even longer than solid wood floors.
The Value of High Quality Finish.
Installers simply cannot achieve this quality when finishing by hand on the job site. A factory finished flooring product results in a very simple and clean installation either in new construction or in renovations. There is no dust or mess to deal with. Our prefinished engineered floors eliminate the extra time required for messy sanding and finishing and can save the customer up to $3 per square foot on installation labor costs.