Buying Wood Flooring - The Top 10 Questions to Ask

By Wendy Meltzer

Things to Know Before Buying Your Wood Flooring

If you’re renovating or building, choosing your flooring is one of the first decisions you should make. Your flooring color and material will set the stage for the rest of your design choices. Make sure you pick up a sample of your new flooring so you can see how it will look with your paint color, your carpet or tile, your cabinet finishes, and your furnishings.

If you want a beautiful, durable floor that’s comfortable underfoot, then look no further than a hardwood floor. Wood flooring technology has come a long way. Wood flooring was once quite temperamental and would move with changes in temperature and humidity, causing gaps to open. New engineered wood flooring products are much more stable and provide a wear layer that’s often the same width as the top layer of solid hardwood. 

If you’re thinking about buying wood flooring, there are a few questions you should ask first:

Buying Wood Flooring Corner Cottage Laura Brophy Interiors Unique Hardwood Flooring

1.  Is it in stock? How far in advance do I need to order my wood if not?

The recent pandemic saw a huge spike in demand for wood – and as a result, many people buying wood flooring have discovered that many manufacturers require a long lead time for your order. At Unique Hardwood, the vast majority of our finishes (except for a few special order products) are in stock with just a seven-to-ten day lead time.

When buying wood flooring for your project, we recommend you secure your quoted price with a deposit. This will protect you from price increases that are often inevitable in the construction industry.

2.  What material is my subfloor, and why does this matter?

If you’re going to install a wood floor, you need to ensure that if your subfloor is concrete, it’s sealed for moisture first. Generally, your subfloors will be concrete on your main and basement levels and plywood on your upper levels. Unique Hardwood flooring can be installed directly over concrete without the need to install costly and time-consuming plywood subflooring first.

3.  Do I want solid wood or engineered wood?

If you’re just beginning your decision-making process before buying wood flooring for your home, you might find our article explaining the difference between solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring useful. In simple terms, as we mentioned above, engineered wood flooring was invented to overcome many of the instability problems with solid wood flooring.

A considerable benefit of engineered wood flooring is that it allows for wider widths and longer lengths. Our flooring comes in five different widths – from 140 mm (5.5″) to 300 mm (almost 12″). We always recommend engineered wood over solid because it’s much more stable – and durable. You can view our different collections here. We’ve worked with interior designers, architects, and homeowners for years – and they are our biggest fans.

Ten Questions About Wood Flooring

4.  What’s the difference between American oak and European oak?

American oak and European oak offer similar tones. European oak has warmer honeyed golden hues, and American oak is generally redder. European oak grains tend to be more intricate with wavy patterns and points of interest, while American oak has a densely packed, linear grain.

American and European oak are both durable, strong hardwood choices, but each offers a slightly different profile. European oak trees tend to grow taller than American oak, so they provide wider and longer planks – something that’s been very popular with modern interior design.

At Unique Hardwood, we are the exclusive Orange County distributor for Legno Bastone European oak flooring – a family-owned business that’s been a staple in the wood flooring industry for over 100 years. Our European oak flooring comes from fully mature trees that are sustainably harvested from forests that are centuries old. Harvesting these mature trees makes way for the saplings below to grow.


5.  Polyurethane or hard wax oil finish… which should I choose?

You probably already know that for timber flooring to last a long time, you’ll need to finish it with a protective coating. But what should you choose – a synthetic finish like polyurethane or a product that treats and takes care of the wood from the inside out?

A hard wax oil finish can be a lot more durable and forgiving than a polyurethane finish – partly because it penetrates deeply into the wood. Polyurethane finishes can look and feel like plastic – and they often scratch easily and are more costly and time-consuming to repair. You’re covering your beautiful organic flooring with a layer of shellac.

Another benefit of hard wax oil finishes is that they are low maintenance and are easy to repair. They’re also made from non-toxic, natural ingredients – an essential consideration for your home. 

The bottom line on finishes? If you want to achieve a high shine and are happy to have a synthetic-like plastic film on top of your flooring, you can consider polyurethane. If you would prefer a matte finish that enhances the natural surface of the wood, is durable, and is easy to maintain, hard wax oil is the finish to choose. At Unique Hardwood, we recommend hard wax oil for all our flooring.

Buying Wood Flooring large format samples Unique Hardwood

6.  Can I go to a showroom and view large format samples?

Your flooring will take up a large part of your home. So it’s essential that you can view large format samples of the different options before you make your final decision. Our flooring gallery in SoCo, Costa Mesa, has large format panels of all our finishes to allow you to get a true sense of how the product will look. We’ve also got samples you can take home to help coordinate your other finishes. We’re 100 percent focused on making buying wood flooring easy and enjoyable for our customers.


7.  How should I care for my new wood floors?

To maintain the beauty of your floors for years, one of the most important things you can do is keep them dust free and use a recommended liquid soap. It’s especially important that you do not use products like Swiffer because the alcohol will lift the finish off our floors. We recommend using Woca Natural Soap – which is easily found on the Woca Denmark website or on Amazon.

For additional instructions on how to care for our beautiful Legno Bastone wood flooring, click here.

8.  What does the warranty include?

Wood flooring warranties vary depending on the manufacturer. They can last anywhere from 10-25 years. They also vary between finished and unfinished wood flooring – unfinished flooring is stained and treated on-site – which leaves more room for damage.

At Unique Hardwood, all our flooring is prefinished. Our warranty is one of the best in the industry at 25 years for residential installation, and we provide this warranty with every purchase. You can access our warranty, installation guidelines, and maintenance instructions on our website here

9.  Am I buying from a NWFA member?

You want to ensure you’re buying your flooring from an organization that delivers the highest quality products and services. National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) certified professionals are recognized as the best in the business in the wood flooring industry.

Unique hardwood is proud to be a member of the NWFA. Our team members are extremely experienced, and we always go above and beyond to provide you with the best service. We make sure everything is done right the first time.

Buying Wood Flooring from NWFA member Unique Hardwood

10. How do I ensure my flooring is properly installed?

Buying wood flooring includes making sure you’ve got the right installation team. Wood floors are organic – and no two boards are exactly the same. At Unique Hardwood, we go the extra mile to ensure that you’ll love the look of your flooring before we install it. We precut and loose lay all boards for approval first – that way, you can swap out boards or even select a wider board for your perimeter to avoid using narrow cuts. Only when you are happy do we glue down the boards.

We are incredibly proud of our Unique Hardwood installation crew – they know our product as well as we do. They’ve been factory trained to be the best in the business, with over 30 years of experience.


Still Have Questions About Buying Wood Flooring?

Visit our SOCO, Costa Mesa showroom, and we’ll be happy to helpWe’ve been in the wood flooring business for more than 20 years, so we’re happy to help educate you about all the nuances of wood flooring.

We invite you to come in and browse our full collection. We’d love to introduce you to our different flooring collections and help you select the right one for your project. We look forward to helping you soon.

Buying Wood Flooring Unique Hardwood showroom