Flooring Options For Your New Custom Home

Flooring Options For Your New Custom Home


Greg:    Jason, we’re back. It’s our second episode in 2016. How are you?

Jason:    I’m very good. Happy New Year to you, Greg.

Greg:    Thank you. You too. We’re sitting in one of your beautiful homes in Norton Commons and I can’t help but notice the hardwood floor here is beautiful. I’ve often wondered if you walk through houses, how do you choose which flooring goes where? What are the options of flooring that a home buyer can choose from? I know it’s going to differ room by room, but do you mind if we talk about flooring today?

Jason:    I think that sounds good. Yeah, we’re sitting in our model home, which is 9204 Norton Commons Boulevard. It’s a spec home we have listed for sale so it can be purchased, but it also gives our potential clients an opportunity to come in and just see what our homes are about. The flooring we selected for this home was a pre-finished product. What that means is the finish on the floor was actually put on in a factory. It’s a very controlled environment. Hickory flooring. It kind of has a dull finish or a satin finish to it. What that does is you’re able to get a very consistent finish. It comes prepackaged in a box to the job site and then we actually just install it on the job site and it’s done. No other work is needed.

Greg:    Is there a bonus to this or is there a benefit, or is it really up to the homeowner which they prefer, like the pre-finished or the actual sand and staining on site?

Jason:    There’s two major differences in hardwood flooring these days. You actually have flooring as you mentioned, sand and finish that is done on site so you install the raw wood, you sand it down, you finish it on site with stain or leave it natural and then you come in with a couple different coats of polyurethane. A lot of people like this look. It’s a very traditional or an old school look. You can change the darkness of the flooring on site. You can put a couple samples down in the light. You know, you can play with the finish so you can adjust it as needed. It takes a little bit more time to do a sand and finish floor so that would be one of the reasons a lot of builders these days and homeowners like a pre-finished product. It can go in in a matter of a couple days and it’s done.

Greg:    If you don’t use the pre-finish, you have to kick people out of the house for a week or so in order to do all the different …

Jason:    In order to get a good, clean finish, you basically shut down the house for at least a week, sometimes two. When you coat the floor, you put polyurethane on it, you don’t want any dust blowing or people walking. You’ll end up with footprints in your polyurethane. That’s not a good thing.

Greg:    No. When you say, “Shut it down,” you’re being literal, right? You have to turn the HVAC off and there’s really nothing going on in the house.

Jason:    That’s right. No traffic, no disturbances, and you still want to have great light so you can find any imperfections when you’re putting it. Once you put that polyurethane in, you’re done. Whatever you cover up is there unless you want to go back and sand it down. That might be another reason that some folks like a sand and finish floor because after a few years, if you get tired of the color or if you have a couple big dogs and they’ve scratched it up, you can actually come in, peel back the top layer of that flooring and refinish it and you’ll end up with a brand new looking floor.

Greg:    Can you not do that with a pre-finished product?

Jason:    You know, the pre-finished manufacturers do say you can refinish those floors, but what happens is a lot of those floors are either distressed, they have a little bit more texture to them. It becomes a little more difficult to do. I have not seen it done. They say it can be done, but we’ve never done that.

Greg:    It’s 2016. What are you finding most people are choosing? The pre-finished?

Jason:    I would say probably 90% of our homeowners … Again, we’re building higher-end custom homes, usually north of $500 thousand. Most people are going with the pre-finished product. What we find is there’s a lot more variety. Typically a sanded finish floor is a two, three, or four inch oak flooring. That’s about it. Sometimes they may upgrade to a hickory floor or a maple but the vast majority of it is oak. When you get over to the pre-finished product, the options are limitless.

Greg:    Like the wide plank? Is that what you’re talking about?

Jason:    Yeah. A pretty standard width in a pre-finished floor is five inches. Some go up to eight or ten.

Greg:    Okay.

Jason:    When you do the sand and finish, usually it’s a little bit smaller because the sand and finish are more susceptible to shrinking and expanding because it’s been installed and finished on site.

Greg:    On the pre-finished, have they taken the time, they the manufacturers, to dry the wood out in their facilities and so some of that natural shrinkage that you’re talking about doesn’t occur?

Jason:    That’s correct. You have far less movement in the pre-finished wood than you do on a sand and finish site finish floor.

Greg:    That’s a pretty big argument towards using that product.

Jason:    It is. We even tell people when we install a sand and finish floor, in the winter time even if you put a humidifier, you’re still going to get gaps because the floor constricts and shrinks as all the dry air is just sucked up in the wood and the wood just really shrinks up in the winter time.

Greg:    Now, you’re talking my language again. I recognize some of those gaps in the flooring.

Jason:    Yeah. Some people don’t like it. A lot of people understand that that’s the true character of the floor and they’re okay with it. As amazing as it is that the floor shrinks down in the winter, come summer it will expand back up as it gets a little bit more moisture in it. Usually those gaps will disappear.

Greg:    That happens less with the pre-finished hardwood floors?

Jason:    Yeah. Virtually never does that happen with the pre-finished product.

Greg:    Okay. Are we finding that these kinds of floors are in the… let’s say more communal areas of the house? Are you taking the hardwood through the whole house, stairway? It’s not the only kind of flooring you use in a house.

Jason:    That’s right. We’re actually seeing more and more people these days going with hardwoods throughout the house. A lot of people have allergies so they don’t want carpet. If they have pets and whatnot, children with allergies, they don’t want the carpet to cling on to all that dust. A standard spec home that I would build, I would put hardwoods throughout the first floor and then usually the second floor hallway or loft I would do hardwoods and then do carpets in the bedroom.

That leaves the basement. The basements have really transformed over the last year. I think 2016 and beyond, you’re going to see a lot of people going to … It’s a newer product. It’s a luxury vinyl tile, basically, that looks like hardwood that can absorb moisture and really take a beating. You can spill water, if you have a leak in the basement, it doesn’t dent. Again, it’s virtually indestructible and it looks like hardwood and it can be installed over concrete, which is a key when you’ve got a basement.

Greg:    It just goes down right on top of the concrete pad or the foundation?

Jason:    Yeah. It usually has a little moisture barrier on the bottom. Some will have padding. Some will have a little cork or a little sponge so it absorbs the foot a little bit, the traffic. Yeah, it goes right down over the concrete and sometimes doesn’t even require an under-laminate.

Greg:    Wow. All right, that’s the basement. We talked about bathrooms a little bit before, but do you want to touch on that real quickly? The flooring?

Jason:    Sure. Occasionally, we’ll put hardwood in in a master bath, but again, most of the flooring in our bathrooms these days are the tile. You’re going to have a nice marble in the master and then maybe a ceramic or porcelain in the other bathrooms.

Greg:    I almost forgot to ask you. I’m curious. The stairway to the basement, you were talking about hardwood through the house, but in the basement you have this really nice vinyl product. What do you in the stairway downstairs?

Jason:    If we’re going to do hardwoods in the basement or the laminate in the basement, we’ll go ahead and switch out a traditional carpeted staircase to the basement with a hardwood material on the steps. It’s still usually an oak product that goes on the steps and we’ll try to stain it to match the existing floor as best we can. Sometimes, when you get an exotic floor on your first floor, say if you’re going with a hickory or bamboo, there’s all kinds of different options. It gets a little tough to match the staircase. Sometimes, we may try to get a product that matches the actually flooring on the steps so we can get an exact match.

Greg:    Got you. Then, I assume if someone were coming to you and they’re in the beginning process, these are all things that you include on your checklist or your interviews. Through the process, people get input on … How does that work?

Jason:    Yeah. It’s part of our design process before we sign a contract with a client. We’ll ask them a series of questions and just go through how they live and really what’s going to be the best suiting floor for their needs.

Greg:    If you’re building a spec home, who gets to choose everything?

Jason:    That’s the fun part. We have some designers that we work with. Sometimes I’ll pick it. I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve been selecting hardwood right now for one of our showcase homes, the Southern Living Showcase Home coming up on Norton Commons here in April. We just selected a really cool product. It’s a newer floor that I haven’t seen before. It’s probably about eight inches wide. In the past, everybody’s gone with the darker hardwood floors. We’re going to switch it up and go a little bit lighter on the finish. It’s kind of got a kind of a distressed lighter finish with almost a white glazing over it. It looks like a quarter sawn white oak look, something that you’d find at maybe a beach house or something.

Greg:    I’m looking forward to seeing that. I have noticed that on a couple of your more recent Instagram posts, you’ve shown some pictures of you out shopping for some finishes for some houses. Maybe you can throw the flooring on there when it starts going down?

Jason:    Yeah. Absolutely. I think that’s a great spot for our listeners. We talk a lot about houses, but most people want to see the actual product. The showcase house and actually we got a couple Homearama houses coming up in Norton Commons in July. People can come out, walk it, touch it, feel it, and actually see some of the latest and greatest products coming to the market in 2016.

Greg:    You know I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see these homes. Good seeing you again this week. I think I’m taking next week off, but I think you have a special guest coming in. It’s been good to see you and I’ll be back.

Jason:    Sounds good, Greg. Always a pleasure having you and have a great 2016.

Greg:    You too.

Jason:    Thank you.