Buckeye Hardwood Products
“WOOD IS UNIVERSALLY BEAUTIFUL TO MAN. IT IS THE MOST HUMANLY INTIMATE OF ALL MATERIALS,” – FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
f you believe that beauty sways the mind then there is no finer foundation for your personal sanctuary than site-finished hardwood floors. A site-finished hardwood floor is the canvas upon which beautiful living spaces come alive. This canvas, or space, is a collection of individual boards – with no two being identical, like snowflakes. One of the things that make both this hardwood floor installer/salesman and my hardwood floors beautiful is that each is the result of a random act of nature – making each unique to itself, slightly imperfect, and beautiful in their own way. I try to spend as many hours in the woods as I can; it is from this time with nature that I attribute my keen eye for color, space, and beauty.
As Frank Lloyd Wright observed “Study nature, love nature, and stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
BESIDES THEIR BEAUTY AND WARMTH:
Value – In Marshall & Swift’s Residential Cost Handbook (a reference guide for appraisers), hardwood flooring adds $9.79 per square feet to the value of a home.
Longevity – Not only do they outlast most other floors, but hardwood floors never go out of style.
Health – Consumers are removing carpet and putting in hardwood flooring to fight allergies and pulmonary ailments.
Environment – Hardwood floors are manufactured from a sustainable resource. Harvesting timber for the purpose of making hardwood floors is environmentally responsible. They are truly a green product.
Local Economy – Hardwood floors return money to the forest community, therefore increasing the viability of properly managed forests.
National Economy – Hardwood floors spur the American economy. The forest industry ranks among the top 10 employers in 40 states.
SPECIES – GRADE – WIDTH – CUT
Among the advantages of being a small company – where the same person makes the appointment, writes the contract, and oversees the installation – is that I also man the booth and hear the questions of home and garden show attendees. Often asked is, “what is the difference between the species?”
Species is a fancy word for the different kinds of wood. Buckeye Hardwood sells hard woods. Each type of wood has a hardness rating derived by measuring the force required to embed a .444” steel ball down to half its diameter into the wood. This is called the “Janka” hardness test.
The majority of hardwood flooring in the U.S. is red oak, which has a hardness rating of 1290.
This prevalence of red oak, as flooring, has shown to wear well and resist dents. For this reason, my recommendation is to choose a species as hard or harder than red oak. No species of wood will resist dents completely. This Janka hardness rating has nothing to do with the scuff resistance of the finishes, and vice-versa.
Should you choose one of the softer species, regardless of how great the applied finish may be, the wood will still be susceptible to dents. No matter what finish is placed on a marshmallow, it is still a marshmallow.
A 120 pound woman exerts over 2,000 pounds per square-inch with each step. This results in – what I call – “cow trails.” Even the hardest woods and best finishes cannot withstand this force.
Buckeye Hardwood does not install pine, fir, or poplar flooring. After all, our name is Buckeye Hardwood .
Beyond hardness, appearance is the next major concern of our clients. I point-out that the forest is much like a Crayola Box. Each tree, like each crayon, has a different color.
The request I do not understand is from the client who wants his/her hardwood floors to match the other woods in their home. I can’t understand; why, because both are wood? It is still a floor. One doesn’t try to match tile, carpet, or linoleum to the other woods in a home. A site-finished hardwood floor is still just a floor, and like other types of flooring, it should compliment – not match – the other décor. One matches automotive paints or the outfits of twins. Remember, each strip of hardwood flooring is unique as it is subject to the hazards of nature; variations in color, size and number of knots, irregularities in the grain, etc…
If for some reason a client feels the need to stain their floors, the workability of that species becomes a factor. Not all species of woods accept stain. Not all stains are compatible with all flooring finishes. You cannot just go to Sherwin-Williams and buy a stain because you like the color. Staining a floor adds additional time to the installation. Stain, depending upon the amount of red in it, can take up to 72 hours to dry. Stains, unlike the finishes we use, contain solvents. These solvents are not VOC compliant. For these reasons, there is an up-charge for staining any floor.
Another decision to make which affects the appearance of our hardwood floors is which grade of the wood to choose. Flooring grading rules, recognized by the FHA, VA, and the Department of Commerce as the standard for the industry, are formulated by the NOFMA (National Floor Manufacturers Association).
Though each species has its own specific set of rules – for the purpose of this website – we will only address oak.
Select Oak – A minimum number of character marks, burls, knots, and pin worm holes are allowed. These boards will only have slight color variations. Only the slightest imperfections on the face-side are permitted. The average length is no less than 3¼’.
No. 1 Common Oak – This grade allows for prominent variations in coloration, varying wood characteristics, heavy streaks, and solid knots. Open characters are admitted and readily filled. Extremely dark pieces are not accepted. The average length is no less than 2¾’.
No. 2 Common Oak – The purpose of this grade is to furnish a floor that is suitable for general utility use, where character marks and a contrasting appearance is desired. Pieces with out tongue are admitted. The average length is no less than 2¼’.
Rustic (Or “Tavern”) Grade Oak – Open and unfilled characters are admitted. Finish irregularities which are accepted include large broken knots, excessive bad millwork, shake, advanced rotting, and similar unsound defects. Pieces may have as little ¼ of their full tongue. Minimum average length is 2’.(NOTE: Characteristics of a higher grade are accepted in lower grades.)
Using these grading rules, Buckeye Hardwood does not install flooring below the No. 1 Common grade level. The reason is simple; our clients are not going to be happy with a surface that is structurally unsound. No. 2 Common and Rustic/Tavern grade floors are a residual product. I have often said that these companies who insist on advertising Tavern grade flooring are in search of the customer with a belly full of Tavern liquid. Builders and re-modelers like to steer their customers toward these residual grades because they are much, much cheaper.
Another pet-peeve of mine is that there are distributors that want to use their own terms to describe these lesser grades. If these distributors are brazen enough to rewrite the nationally recognized industry standards, what other lies do they tell? There is no such thing as “natural” grade and, furthermore, since when did “natural” become synonymous with “trash”?
Besides using either Select or No. 1 Common grades to alter the appearance of a floor, you must choose between the two general width-types: strip or plank.
Strip – Strip flooring is flooring which is 3” or less. These are the widths that dominate the industry. 2¼” strip oak accounts for almost one-half of the sales in the hardwood industry.
These more narrow floors have the advantage of having more fasteners per square foot than the wider cuts. (There are 5 rows of 2 ¼” per 12” as compared to 3 rows of 4”.) Because of this, I recommend strip flooring in older homes with sub-floors that have high and low spots, as well as homes that have difficulty maintaining a relative humidity of 45% year round.
Plank – Today’s plank flooring is not your grandmother’s hardwood flooring! With the advancements in the machinery used to make hardwood flooring, wider planks are available. Wide flooring (up to 7” wide) shows off the natural grain patterns much better than strip flooring. The eye tends to catch the lines created when two pieces of strip flooring are joined, whereas with plank flooring (and especially random-size plank flooring) our eyes are more likely to follow the grain of the wood – which is the true beauty of hardwood floors.
The grain or cut of the wood affects not only the appearance, but also the technical properties of the flooring.
Plain-Sawn – Flooring manufactured with the grain running across the width of the boards. Plain-sawn flooring is easily identified by “arches” formed by the grain. Think of it like slicing a log as if it were a deviled egg. The growth-rings on the ends of the boards are 30° or less to the face of the board.
Rifts-Sawn – Boards have a very straight grain (no “arches”) and are more stable than plain-sawn. The growth-rings are 30° to 60° to the face of the board.
Quarter-Sawn – These boards have grain lines which are mostly parallel to the length of the strips. In cross-section, the angle of the annual ring tangent to the face of the piece is to be between 45 ° and 90°, and medullary ray flecks presented are at least 1/16” wide. Because of the cost to produce quarter-sawn-only flooring, it is normally packaged and sold as rift and quarter-sawn (R&Q) which is a combination of the two.
R&Q is the most stable. Plain-sawn boards will be more likely to expand because wood expands and contracts parallel to the annual rings, which are created by the growing seasons.
When looking at a cross section of wood ,the darker lines, or springwood, are held in place by the lighter lines, or summerwood, when the board is quarter-sawn. When plain-sawn, the springwood is freer to swell “sideways”, for it is not sandwiched by summerwood.
In addition to the straighter grain and more stable properties, R&Q flooring exhibits highly figured grain (medullary ray flecks). I have often said that these flecks are rays of sunshine capture by the wood. In maple, cherry, red oak, and especially white oak, these flecks – when finished – are breathtaking.
The downside to R&Q lumber is that it requires larger logs to produce wide boards, and there is more waste. As a result, R&Q flooring costs more.
If you agree that site-finished hardwood floors are categorically the finest flooring in the world, then R&Q flooring is the best of the best.
If the cost of labor is a constant, regardless of the cut, then is another dollar or so per square foot that much more of an investment into your home? Again, if you believe that beauty sways the mind… … …
Parquetry & Patterned Floors:
PATTERNED FLOORS – YOUR IMAGINATION IS THE LIMIT
Hardwood floors evolved from the very early plank flooring found on the second story floors of homes built prior to the 1600’s (first floors still were still beaten earth) to the elegant Baroque-era parquetry. These early patterned floors were made from hand cut/scraped pieces of contrasting colored wood. These illusionist patterns are found in other artistic mediums. When visiting our booth, a few quilters and stained glass artists have made note of the similarities. These parquet patterns not only survived, but benefited from the advances in tooling and machinery.
Today’s skilled craftsmen are constantly expanding the boundaries of floor decorating. A patterned floor may be comprised of any or all of the following: marble or tile, ceramics, different wood species, metals (brass, aluminum, stainless steel, etc…)
Pattered floors are also the most difficult floors to design, sand, and finish because of their different physical properties. The pricing for these floors is at least twice the price of an ordinary floor.
THESE SIGNATURE ITEMS ARE BUCKEYE HARDWOODS’ FORTE.
Excuse the pun, but our selection of accents, borders, and wooden floor registers are what makes Buckeye Hardwood so special; and not only because we have incorporated them into so many of our floors (see gallery) but because we also use suppliers from all over the United States.
Buckeye Hardwood knows intuitively that Brazilian cherry goes with maple. Sometimes a 12” border can be overwhelming where a 4” border will suffice, and cost less money. Our design skills are the fruition of years of on-the-job experience. The use of depth and spacing cannot be learned in any other way.
Using a whole array of suppliers we have been able to sort the “haves” from the “have-nots”. Buckeye Hardwood has been able to compare the quality vs. price of competing companies and has discarded the overpriced and poorly manufactured.
Our design skills, knowledge of the industry, and installation prowess make Buckeye Hardwood not only the finest hardwood flooring company in Central Ohio, but one of the best in the world.
To paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright, “When given the choice between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility, [Buckeye Hardwood chooses] the former.”
QUALITY HAS A RIPPLE EFFECT
Once our floors are installed, we find that customers start asking about other ways they can enjoy the beauty of hardwood in their homes. It was a natural progression for Buckeye Hardwood to start offering complementary products.
Custom moldings, tall baseboard, and wainscot paneling are but a few of the products we have been commissioned to install. The customer’s request usually begins something like this: “While you’re here, will you give me a price for… … …?”
All content and photographs copyright © 2005 Buckeye Hardwood.
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