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If you have been shopping for new engineered hardwood floors then you have probably found the price to vary widely; perhaps anywhere from $4 to $30 per square foot. To the un-trained eye they may all appear to be the same, but there are many factors that influence the price of a hardwood floor which may not be obvious at first glance. Some of the key drivers of price, and things which you may want to consider when shopping are:
- Place of manufacturer. Those hardwood floors made in Europe or Canada will be more costly then those made in Asia.
- The grade of the hardwood. “Clean” floors with minimal to no knots are more expensive than “country” grade floor which contain knots, mineral streaks, etc.
- The thickness of the top hardwood layer (called a lamella). The actual amount of hardwood on the top varies from 1mm to 6mm in thickness. The thicker the hardwood layer generally the more expensive the floor
- The length and width of the planks. Floors with wider and longer planks are more expensive than those with narrower and shorter planks
- The quality of the core material. You will see cores made from marine-grade Baltic Birch plywood all the way down to core’s that appears to be made of scrap/leftover materials. Remember the core is the structure of your entire floor and its quality will dictate how well the floor stays together over time
- The manufacturer of the floor. Some manufacturer’s have long-histories of providing high-quality floors. Others are “phantom-brands” which buy from mills overseas and just put their own box on it. These phantom-brands can quickly come and go, which may impact your warranty
- The quality of the warranty. Those brands which have a long history, and thus a higher-likelihood of being around to service a potential warranty claim, tend to cost more. Many phantom-brands may offer long warranty on paper but may be out-of-business when you have a problem
- Made-to-order versus made-in-bulk. Some brands (mostly the Canadian one’s) offer a made-to-order program, where the consumer can chose to customize their new floor a la carte. These floors are then produced “for you”. Other brands purchase in bulk from overseas and what you see in the display is what you can buy; no customization is possible
- The supply-chain of the trees used. The less expensive the floor the higher chance the trees used in the manufacturer of the floor are from illegal sources
- The VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions of the floor. The less expensive the floor the higher the chance the chemicals used in the manufacturer of the floor will off-gas un-healthy levels of VOC’s
Of course this is not all the things that play a part in the cost of a floor. There are costs which cannot necessarily be quantified, such as the social cost of poorly-paid factory workers, and the cost to the planet of producing a floor with no respect to the surrounding environment. The hope is however that when deciding on a new floor you will realize how much goes into (or not goes into) the price which you are about to pay.