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The *Floor* You Know

Hardwood flooring. The subject seems basic enough, right? You pick a wood material, width and color that you like and go. Or sometimes you just pick a color that you like.


* Bada-bing, bada-boom! Your house looks like a gorgeous magazine room! *


Nothing is that simple of course. Our design team researches the flooring options for each client to death, in search of the right material that will wear well for their family, fit the stylistic context of their home, not look ‘trendy’ in five years, and fit in the budget. Phew!


Case in point, the HDB design team is currently working on a home in Andover, where the original house was built in 1840 and still has the original wide plank pine flooring on the first floor. Our project scope includes renovation of the kitchen and dining room in the footprint of the home immediately adjacent to the lovely living room with antique floors. It is incredibly important to us that the newly renovated spaces flow with the contextual design of the home and not feel like an outlier, so in that effort selection of the flooring to create visual continuity of the antique pine is essential.


Our Andover client + design team have considered many wood flooring options including several manufacturers of prefinished engineered hardwood flooring, unfinished engineered hardwood flooring, and reclaimed solid hardwood flooring.

What is engineered flooring? It is a floor plank composed of laminated layers of plywood and a top layer of hardwood ‘veneer’. The top layer is typically thick enough for one or two future sandings if the homeowner decides to refinish their floors again. Benefits and disadvantages? There are three big benefits; The material is more stable and resistant to thermal change, it can be installed over a concrete slab in a ‘floating’ method, and the cost is substantially more affordable than solid hardwood flooring. The disadvantages; It is not viable beyond one or two future sandings.

There are some hardwood materials (red oak) that are so plentiful that solid hardwood makes economic sense, but for many other wood species engineered flooring is the way to go if economics are a consideration.


Here is a rundown of example material costs (install not included) :

  • Engineered wide plank white oak, prefinished : $7-12 / square foot

  • Engineered wide plank white oak, unfinished : $7-9 / square foot

  • Reclaimed solid wide plank white oak, unfinished : $20-28 / square foot





The client’s budget does not allow for the cost of reclaimed hardwood flooring, and additionally pine is a soft wood which doesn’t tolerate the wear and tear of an active family gracefully. Because our project has a specific floor we’re working to coordinate with the selecting an unfinished material makes sense because we haven’t been able to find a prefinished material that was *exactly right*. We can test custom mix finish options on unfinished material until we reach the right solution.

On a project that doesn’t have the same existing condition restrictions we highly recommend selecting a prefinished material. It makes installation and project scheduling much easier.


Color! The possibilities are endless, but a frequently overlooked important consideration in addition to the wood species and stain color is the finish sealant type. Oil based sealer is the traditional method, which is extremely hard wearing, and naturally adds a warm, golden tone to the finished floor. It also may UV change over time to get even more golden. Water based sealers are very popular these days because it is non-toxic and has a clearer tone. But, it is not as bulletproof of a final finish as an oil finish.


One more thing to think about: pattern and directionality. In older homes the floor material runs perpendicular to the plank sheathing (subfloor between the floor joists and finished floor). In newer homes or renovations that replace the existing subfloor completely plywood is used for sheathing, so you can pick the direction that makes the most sense for your room’s layout. An important consideration for this is the standard board lengths and widths of any product. Some flooring materials come in short lengths (2’-4’), some products come in uniform lengths (6’-8’), some products come in random lengths (4’-8’). Width options have just as much variety, from thin strip <4”, to standard stock ~4”, to wide plank >5”.

So for example, if you want to install a herringbone pattern picking a product that comes in short lengths will minimize cuts and waste. If you wanted a very graphic modern floor thin strip flooring running in a single direction would be a good match. If you are installing new flooring to match your existing flooring EXACTLY it is important to have your installer weave the new and old so there is not a distinct transition point between the new and old materials.


If you are installing new flooring to match your existing flooring EXACTLY it is important to have your installer weave the new and old so there is not a distinct transition point between the new and old materials.




For our Andover client’s home we will run the flooring one direction in the dining room with a picture frame border and in the opposite direction in the kitchen, also with a border, using random length material. We will also be using three plank widths, 5”, 8” and 10”. This will match the ‘quilted’ antique nature of the home and its many additions.

Stay tuned for pictures of the final installation!


We hope this information is helpful in your renovation planning.

Dream * Develop * Create



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540 Main Street, Suite 7,  Winchester MA    01890

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