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Need help finding THE white oak of my dreams!

AJ
last month
last modified: last month

Hi all,


As the title suggests, I am looking for white oak floor. I've been looking at flooring for 5-6 weeks now, but can't find one that quite meets all of my/husband's requirements, and I'm running out of time!!


Here's what we're roughly looking for:

  • Engineered hardwood
  • White oak in a mid-tone brown
  • Relatively clear (we're ok with a few knots here and there, we just don't want the huge black-filled knots that are typical of rustic floors). Probably looking for "select and better", but I'm keeping my options open
  • 4mm or more wear layer
  • Satin finish (after 3 weeks of looking at floors and hating every single one my husband picked, I realized they were all somewhat glossy, and that's probably what I didn't like -- from an angle, the darker floors all pulled a bit orangey for my eyes)
  • Urethane or water-based finish (I don't have the discipline for oil)
  • Wide plank (I'm thinking between 6-7.5', but not dead set on this; for reference, our largest room is 31x17' and our smallest room is 11x10.5', which directly connects with another room that's 18x13')
  • Ideally pre-finished, but we've accepted the fact that we may just need to go sand in place


After looking at 4 showrooms and taking home 20+ samples, we narrowed it down to Reward Costa in Conero and Monarch Verano in Campo, eventually going with the latter (https://monarchplank.com/collections/verano/products/verano-campo):


So, we ordered a box just to see how it looked.... And it was NOTHING like the sample board (the physical sample has absolutely 0 knots, the digital sample (above) has small knots, and the real product has at least one huge, black-filled knot on every single board). To be fair, it is a rustic grade, but the sample looked sooo clear!


Anyways, we're back to square one and need to decide on flooring ASAP. Ideally I think I would get a slightly darker brown than Monarch Verano Campo anyways, but we're looking for something along those lines.


Any ideas? Thanks so much!!


P.S. Another limiting factor is that the flooring company we want to use can't necessarily get every product. We'd be OK with buying the material and having our contractor install, but I don't see many of those options available.

Comments (42)

  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Here are a few other samples that I saw online and liked -


    Hudson PURE, WHITE OAK, FLAT SAWN (https://thehudsonco.com/pure-white-oak-flat-sawn):


    Monarch FRENCH OAK: PRIME GRADE (https://monarchplank.com/products/prime-european-oak):


    Oak & Broad Cafe over Select Grade White Oak (https://www.oakandbroad.com/white-oak-flooring/):


    Monarch would definitely be way way waaayy out of our budget, but I'm not sure about the others. The company I'm using doesn't carry these, and I haven't called the manufacturer yet due to weekend.

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    If you can access Oak & Broad flooring that I would say 'Go for it!'. They man amazing looking floors. They can create 'factory finished' engineered hardwoods or 'site finished' engineered hardwoods. Eitherway, they make great products.


    Remember: everything you have listed carries a higher price tag than the regular off the shelf stuff. Every point in your 'wish list' adds $. If you have 10 wishes...you have 10 bits of extra $$ going to wards the floors. That's fine. So long as you have the budget and you are fully aware of what you are asking for.


    Regardless of the product you work with, do NOT allow a GC to install these HIGH END floors! Ever! I don't care if they SWEAR they use a 'flooring guy'. I have yet to see a great installation from a regular GC. Only if the GC has a history as a wood flooring professional will you get the type of installation your wood (your special wood) deserves.


    Oak & Broad is my pick! And see if you can get the wood store to install it for you. At least you can use their knowledge of installation to get a decent install. And by doing this, your flooring store MIGHT just thank you for hooking them up with a great manufacturer!

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks, @SJ McCarthy!


    Yes, I've realized each spec adds quite a bit more to the cost (I was originally looking at ~20k for flooring, now I'm approaching ~45k and might be going up again...), but I figure I'll have this floor until I die, so I better love it!!


    The flooring company I intend to use for installation has been in business for 50 years, so I think (hope) they should have enough experience to work with Oak & Broad flooring. Do you know a ballpark price for Oak & Broad wide plank (like in the $10's, $20's, $30's, etc. per sqft)? I couldn't find anything about this, and wanted to avoid working with a rep if I already know it's going to be way out of budget.

  • suezbell
    last month

    This looks like the white oak flooring in the house I lived in as a teen but I have no personal experience with the company or flooring:


    https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=nB9rr7%2bZ&id=FFFC1CE6D3F897CB14C1156F4B101AAEEA947352&thid=OIP.nB9rr7-Z5CRJ8omLwqZV1AHaFL&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2faafloors.ca%2fwp-content%2fuploads%2f2015%2f09%2fLauzon-Designer-Elements-White-Oak-Beechwood.jpg&exph=1820&expw=2600&q=white+oak+flooring+tiles&simid=607991258598998446&ck=484D540DD5A6346D671959E2E2911F06&selectedIndex=126&FORM=IRPRST&ajaxhist=0


    One idea might be to look for a wood reclaimer as your provider-- someone that tears down old homes or buys wood from old homes torn down.,


    AJ thanked suezbell
  • julieste
    last month

    If you are already up to big bucks using the engineered wood, why don't you investigate site laid regular hardwood?

    AJ thanked julieste
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    last month

    Get unfinished and have it stained the color you like .IMO get a narrower board too.

    AJ thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Everything you mentioned, are the floors I had done last year. Are these too 'rustic' for you?

    Casa California-Mediterranean collection, Granville.

    I can't say enough about these floors. they are thicker than more floors, and are a breeze to clean. they are 7" I believe? urethane finish



    (they have 10 other colors- right side of pic)


  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @julieste - Part of our house is on a concrete slab, so ideally we could get engineered, pre-finished wood to keep it consistent throughout. But if we do sand in place, we would do a mixture of engineered + prefinished, as this is apparently more cost-effective.


    @Beth H. : - Thanks so much!! Your floor looks beautiful! Definitely not too rustic for me, but I'd have to get the husband to agree, haha. For whatever reason, he's been very against even a hint of white in the finish.. But I think he's losing patience and will compromise :-)


    Do you happen to have any more pics of the floor? I haven't found any other installation pics online after a quick search. After my Mirage nightmare (I'm exaggerating here), I don't know if I trust the tiny manufacturer samples!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month
    last modified: last month

    AJ, well it's not like it's readily visible. It is a photograph w/my phone, and the one photo was taken w/the flash. It's not a cerused look by any means.

    here's the link to their site and the diff colors.

    http://www.californiaclassicsfloors.com/hardwood-flooring/mediterranean-hardwood-flooring.aspx



    this is the Kerrew color. I actually installed this on by bathroom ceiling



    AJ thanked Beth H. :
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    @Beth H. : - Ah, thank you. I did not know what "cerused" was before.. I have been describing it as "some sort of whiteish finish" this whole time. My husband is definite not for the cerused look.


    Oooh, I love Kerrew! Your floor/ceiling looks so much more even than the examples on their website.


    Granville:


    Kerrew:


    It's like a completely different product! I had actually looked at California Classics way back in my early days of floor hunting (5? 6? weeks ago), and didn't like how "patchy" the floor looked in their pics; too much color variation. Yours looks so consistent, though!!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month
    last modified: last month

    granville and kerrew are very close. kerrew has a tad more yellow. In fact, I had a box of left over kerrew from the ceiling, and ended up using it because I got a little short on the granville install! it's for a back bedroom, so you can't even see the diff w/the two!

    close up of the kerrew.




    Since my kitchen has more gray, I thought the granville w/a better match. But really, they're both great shades.

    neither one is patchy. lol

    all I have are phone pics!


    AJ thanked Beth H. :
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Also, I'm not sure if you'd know anything about this, but looking at the the same collection in different colors, the clarity of the wood is so different. ie:


    Would the lighter colors actually have less knots than the darker colors, or did you observe the same wood/grade for the different colors when you were looking at them?

  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks so much @Beth H. :!! It's crazy how different manufacturer pics vs manufacturer sample vs actual product are. Your phone pics are great, super helpful!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    last month

    some planks have more knots. I got 850sq ft of the Granville. Most of the boxes were pretty even. there was one batch that was a bit more rustic, but I just used those planks under the furniture or something. not a big deal. your flooring guy has to open up all the boxes and randomly choose planks from all of the boxes as he goes.

    AJ thanked Beth H. :
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Wow, sorry, I just realized I missed a lot of replies. From bottom to top ...


    @Beth H. : - That makes sense, thanks again. I just wanted to get as much info as possible before ordering and opening up a bunch of boxes. The Monarch box we opened has me nervous, as the box we opened had 1-2 black-filled knots on every single plank. Our flooring guy suggested culling the boards or hiding the knottier ones in the closet, but with only 2/4 borderline making the cut (in reality, we didn't LOVE any board), it didn't seem plausible for us.


    @Patricia Colwell Consulting - This is looking like the best option so far. Our flooring guy suggested 4" width, as that's much cheaper and the boards should look seamless anyways.. But I wasn't in love with some of the pics I saw online. We are thinking of using a water-based finish since it looks softer, so I suspect we'd see some color variation and would be happier with wider plank (depending on $$, still waiting to hear back on rough estimates). Do you have any experience with 4" vs 6" using water-based finish?


    @suezbell - That's really pretty! From my research, Lauzon is fantastic but SUPER expensive (probably moreso than sand in place). I'm not sure my husband would go for the white stuff / cerused look, as Beth called it.


    @SJ McCarthy - Got so busy with work today (tons of issues, which I'm still working on 10h later), that I totally forgot to call Oak & Broad! :-( Will have to try tomorrow. I was told 7" would require nail+glue assist, and 7.5+ would be full glue. So I was thinking 6" would be good, so we can just save some of the installation cost by doing nail-only. Do you really recommend 6mm wear layer? We were told that would outlive us (for reference, I'm in my late 20's, don't intend to have any pets, and will eventually have kids), so I figured 4mm would be sufficient. Let me get all of the room measurements real quick, but I had put the 7.5" plank in all the rooms and it seemed OK? I forgot to look at the 5" sample we had in all rooms, though.

  • Jennifer Svensson
    last month

    We were also searching for a mid toned not too rustic oak in with a decent price point. We ended up with a porcelanosa one that we like a lot. Other than that we also looked at Kentwood and Kährs that have a lot of nice oak options. Those might be possible options for you to explore.

    AJ thanked Jennifer Svensson
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    I had done a bit of rounding earlier, thinking it didn't matter too much. But here's the room measurements where we'd put hardwood (give or take a few inches, I'm not a pro and was measuring with the seller's stuff all over the house still):

    • Living Room: 18x13.5'
    • Some little sitting room, connected to Living with a big open doorway: 11.3x10.3'
    • Dining Room: 17.8x12.75'
    • Family Room, connected to Dining with a big open doorway: 31.25x17.3'

    It's a relatively open floor plan, so that "little room" is visible from the Dining Room.

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    A 6mm wear layer allows 3 full sand/refinish events. If you are in your 20s (I was thinking 40s if you were talking about the LAST floors you would ever own) then you want all the life you can get out of a floor.


    imagine if you will: You spend all this money doing and all this effort only to find out you only two sand/refinishes out of them. Remember: Life happens. It only takes ONE flood to require you to deal with a ruined floor/finish. The wood can be dried out but the water staining (especially in this colour range you have) is going to be BIG. That requires a sand/refinish. Now image (horror of horrors) this happens at year 10. Yep. You are only in your 30s when your FIRST sand/refinish is needed. Zoinks.


    Now image the finish is only 2 COATS of the good stuff. Little did you know that 2 coat finish system has a longevity of 15 years. OK...no big deal right?? Oh wait. Now you want to do another sand/refinish because your colour scheme has changed (again). Right. If you have 4mm this is your LAST sand/refinish...and the floor is only 25 years old. Oh dear.


    What happens if you get into another flood situation...in say another 10 years? These wood floors are *probably done'. The 'last wood floor' you thought you would own turns into the SECOND to last wood floor you thought you would have. Sigh. Such a waste.


    If you had 6mm on the wear layer, then you would get 3 full sand refinishes. That's how you get 60-80 years out of a wood floor. You need WOOD to give you 80 years. Anything that takes away from the thickness of the wear layer means you will NOT get 80 years out of the wood floors of your dreams. And yes. We've seen 'life long' floors get 40 years and have to be replaced.


    Life happens. Be prepared by having EXTRA...which means a wooden floor needs more wood.


    It sounds like you REALLY want the SUPER WIDE stuff. If you have the budget for it and the budget for the installation full glue ('cause how else are you going to get it to stick to concrete) is recommended (ahem..that's warranty speak for 'must have'). That wide...there is no way around it. Whomsoever is trying to sell you on 4mm means THEY only have 4mm....


    The NWFA Installation guidelines can only be 'trumped' by installation instructions. And the people at Oak & Broad are not going to let their wide plank products get installed the 'it might work out' way. Nope. They will be quite determined to see the BEST possible install done.


    I would ASSUME the most EXPENSIVE install you can image (labour $3/sf + adhesive $2/sf)...and I haven't even gotten into the subfloor preparation.


    If you MUST give up on something, give up on the HYPER-WIDE planks. The THICKNESS is the key to longevity.


    OH...BTW...how GOOD (ahem...excellent/outstanding/expensive) is your home HUMIDITY control??? Wide plank, even in engineered format, is REALLY dynamic! As it it can rip itself apart in ONE heating/cooling cycle if the HVAC does not have whole home humidity control (it must be kept between 35% - 55% humidity...for the next 80 years).

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment @SJ McCarthy! I really appreciate it. I hadn't even considered life happening (I'll blame that on being young and naive :-) This is my first house) ... I just figured 6mm was overkill, since it's supposed to outlast my lifetime (like you said, that's really assuming no accidents).


    I'm not dead set on 6-7" width, and you may have just convinced me otherwise :-) It just looked a lot more seamless to my eyes, compared with the 5" width. Perhaps this is because all of the 5" widths were also 1-5' random length (or even shorter), which gave what I call a "patchy" look (no idea what the term is). Maybe smaller width but keeping the long length would still achieve what I'm envisioning?

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    @ AJ The Select Grade will give you the continuous look you are after. If you go with site finished you can also have a wood floor that has NO EDGES. Yep. A factory finished floor has, 99.9% of the time, bevelled edges. Those edges will also cause a visual 'break up' of the floor. A site finished floor has 'square edge planks' and is a flat, continuous floor without little valleys every 5". Again, this reduces the 'need' for 7" planks.


    Oak & Broad produce engineered hardwood with 6mm wear layer that can be site finished. This is where you can add it all together to get a SEAMLESS, flat continuous wood floor with minimal variation...and still come in at budget. You can eat your cake and have it too.


    Just a little FYI.

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks again @SJ McCarthy!! My floor guy said the same about sand in place looking seamless even at 5". I guess I just need to look at more examples of this then, as I've really been focusing on prefinished due to the concrete slab. I thought it was the color variation of the plans that gave the visual breakup / "patchy" feeling, but maybe it is the bevelled edges like you said.


    Thanks so much for all the info, fingers crossed my guy can get Oak & Broad! I'd feel bad moving away from him, after all his help over the past month(s).

  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thanks again @Beth H. : for showing your California Classics floor pics! My husband is over looking at different floors again, so we're just going to get rift sawn, 6mm veneer, sand in place to get exactly what he wants.


    @Jennifer Svensson: Sorry, I missed your comment earlier. We actually looked at Kahrs, but we would've done floating, and our floor guy didn't recommend it as you can end up with a hollow sound when tapping the floor.


    @SJ McCarthy: Spoke with the flooring guy today, he doesn't recommend 6" width due to, like you said.... Possible humidity issues! I live in a relatively moderate climate, but apparently my new place will get a little bit more humidity during the winter than where I'm currently at. Sooo, we'll look at 4" and 5".


    Other than price point, is there any reason to choose 4" over 5"? Our guy recommends 4" because he thinks it looks better. He gave me unfinished 4" boards to take home and mull over, but he didn't have any 5" in stock for me to look at. He gave me a sample 5" board, but I don't get the true plank length with them. I'm wondering if proportions would look better for 4" instead of 5"?

  • PRO
    WoodCo
    last month

    Hello AJ,


    We manufacture wood flooring here in the USA. We do solid, engineered, unfinished and prefinished. One of our most common floors is the 5/8" (4mm wear layer) x 7 1/16" thick engineered European Oak. This floor is available in select (basically no knots) or character (some knots but not rustic). I would love to discuss your project with you over the phone, if you would like.


    Kind Regards,

    Debbie George

    (210) 298-9663

    www.woodco.com

    AJ thanked WoodCo
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thank you @WoodCo. I suspect our floor guy will work with his preferred manufacturers who he already has a relationship with, but I will keep this in mind!


    We will also go with 6mm wear layer, as @SJ McCarthy suggested. Now we're just deciding on width and finish! I'm coming around to 4", but I'd still like to do more research on pros/cons of 4" vs 5", or if it just comes down to personal preference.

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    If you work with site-finished (which by your preferences would be the best option for you visually) it really won't matter. The difference between 4" and 5" is not a great jump. The difference between 4" and 6" (for example) is big.


    If you are going to work with factory finished then the bevelled edge is going to come into the conversation. And NOW the difference between 4" and 5" is going to 'look' quite different because the EDGES will all show. A micro-bevelled edge or an eased edge (nice and expensive) will be minimal when it comes to the visual disruption the edge causes.


    I know you are anxious about this because you believe this to be the one and only wood floor you will ever deal with (you can't imagine how many people have thought this only to find out they are moving 7 years later...like I said, life happens). Trust me when I say, with love in my heart as I say it, you are over thinking this.


    Pick the colour and the finish and move on. A wood floor is a living entity. It will NOT look perfect after 5 years let alone after 25 years. It will look different tomorrow as it did today (lighting, change in season, paint job...furniture, etc). You will need to be 'ok' with those changes. I think a site finished 4" or 5" wood plank will look stunning.


    Remember: 4" is closer to 'regular' width than 5". Right now the wood flooring industry is all about 'How wide can you go???' That's a bit of a fad. The traditional wood floor plank is around about 3" (plus or minus depending on the age of the build).


    The further away from 'regular' you get (ie. 6", 7", 8", etc) the HARDER it will be to source more material should 'life happen'. If you EVER want to knock down a wall or if EVER the dishwasher lets go and you need 200sf of 'more' then you will be in a PICKLE with the super wide planks. The closer you are to regular sizes (4" is very close...5" is starting to push the boundaries) the EASIER it will be to source more of the same.


    If you want and can afford 5" then go with 5". Just remember to purchase about 100sf extra (beyond the 5% regular waste amount) so that you can store it for later use. Engineered hardwoods are tricky because you have to be able to find someone who produces exactly what you have...at a moment's notice (when life happens it happens when you LEAST expect it).


    Take a breath. You are in the home stretch. Once you are living on the floor (and 80% of it is covered with area rugs and furniture...and toys...and boots and gloves, etc) for a year or two, you will COMPLETELY forget about the 'width'. Trust me. It becomes 'just a floor'. And that's precisely what it is supposed to be...just a floor.


    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • HU-6868130
    last month

    Very interesting discussion. For what it’s worth I spent a ton of time looking at floors for a project I am now finishing. It is also concrete sub-floors which lead to engineered wood but frankly I was anxious to try engineered wood after doing regular hardwood on my last project. This is the North East and without proper humidity control you do get a lot of separation/gaps using regular hardwood, I understand engineered to be much more dimensionally stable and, therefore, much better suited to avoid this issue.


    I went with a micro-bevel (all engineered has some bevel, I am not aware of engineered w/o it), which I think looks great. Very mild line btw boards, nothing distracting, in fact I think it is a nice touch. 100% would do pre-finished, not site, that is another big reason (in my mind) to go w/ engineered. You pick it out, know what you are getting, no mess and a very sturdy/durable. I went with two types of wood for two different types of apartments (these are condos). For most I did a 7-1/2" wide, 4mm wear layer w/ most boards at 7' in length. All due respect to the gentlemen touting the 6MM, yes, 6MM better than 4MM but you can refinish 4MM several times, anything 4MM or higher is very high quality. Personally, I think 6MM is indeed overkill if making budget decisions -- barring that flood how often does anyone really refinish their floor anyway, a huge hastle once you are moved in.


    The 7-1/2" has more character (not what you are looking for) but for the other home I went with 5" wide rift sawn only, which is the most dimensionally stable and the most modern, clean, no knots look you can get. Sort of the definition of high-end and elegant in my OP. It is more expensive but it sounds like rift sawn is what you are looking for. The 5" rift is more expensive than the 7-1/2" but to make affordable you could easily drop to 4" to make it work.


    Good luck. My main take away is engineered, prefinished, 4MM (or better) and 7' long boards (70%) to avoid the checkerboard look.

    AJ thanked HU-6868130
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    @SJ McCarthy: "Trust me when I say, with love in my heart as I say it, you are over thinking this." LOL, you have no idea how many people have said this. I definitely am!! And I really appreciate your patience with me :-) In my mind, these floors are "forever" and I don't want to regret them 10/20/30 years down the line. I don't intend to move again (we picked a place that should suit all of our goals/needs) but, of course, this could always change... If I win the lotto, then I'm definitely moving!!


    Good points about the wide plank being a fad and 4" being closer to the traditional, timeless look. I was actually only considering wide plank because I hate that "patchy" feel which a lot of floors give me, then I thought 7" actually looked pretty nice in the house.


    Here's an example of what I mean by "patchy", but I think @HU-6868130's "checkerboard" description is more accurate -

    Of course, that's way more drastic than what we'd be getting with sand in place, but that's what led me down the path of wide plank to begin with.


    My husband says the same about the floor being 90% covered by rugs, furniture, and other junk :-) But I just can't imagine spending tens of thousands on flooring, only to look at the uncovered areas and think they're hideous! In all honesty, I'd just install SPC to get the exact look I want, for a great price price, and not worry about it ever getting damaged.. But my husband is dead set on wood, so here we are.


    Thanks for all the info and pointers, you've been so so so helpful!


    @HU-6868130 - Thank you for the info! Sounds like you've worked with everything we've been considering. Your takeaway pretty much matches what we were looking for, but we never found pre-finished that both my husband and I could agree on :-) We've agreed to just go with 4 or 5" width, rift sawn, sand in place so we can move on from looking at floors.. Just waiting for a rough estimate to get the price difference. For reference, we live in a pretty mild part of California, so supposedly 5" solid hardwood should be fine (but we were advised against 6", even with the mild seasons).

  • HU-6868130
    last month

    If you like that clean light oak look another great option is to do the 5” rift sawn, sand in place and then just put poly over to finish. No stain. Solves finding the right finish, a real nice look.

    AJ thanked HU-6868130
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Wow, it's like you've been floor shopping with us @HU-6868130! We're planning to forego the stain, as we're already spending all that money on the wood and I want to see its natural beauty. I'm just debating between poly and water-based now, as I haven't seen many water-based samples in person (and haven't done my Google homework yet). I like the softness of water based, but I did like how the poly looked as well. I've just heard that poly will darken over the years, while water should keep that lighter look.

  • zthar
    last month

    HERE is my dream white oak flooring....


    I love a couple of their floor choices, sweet memories and natural

    AJ thanked zthar
  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    Poly = polyurethane. It is a word for a liquid chemical. The full category name: Oil based polyurethane. Your other option is: Water based polyurethane.


    Here's my question: Do you LIKE the deep amber of the 'honey oak' everyone is trying really hard to get rid of? Do you LIKE the idea of HEAVY CHEMICAL ODOUR (as in 'nose bleeds' and 'migraines' type of odour)? Do you LIKE the idea that it takes 30+ days for the floor to cure?

    If you answered "No" to all those questions then "Oil Based Polyurethane is NOT for you!" Because it has ALL of those problems associated with it.


    And do NOT be 'conned' into oil modified water borne products are the SAME as water based polyurethane. They ARE NOT! They still turn YELLOW (some a dark orange). They still have HIGH VOC content and they still take 25+ days to fully cure (and the odour is still very strong).


    A 2 part water based finish, such as Bona Traffic HD or Loba 2K Supra AT are the types of products you are looking for. When it comes to white oak and water based polyurethanes the white oak REQUIRES a sealant. Bona has several sealants (some coloured and others colourless). Loba has only a small amount of sealants.


    The coating should be 3 coats of product. With White Oak, the sealant is often considered the first coat. That's fine. Then two coats of the very expensive water based polyurethane. Great. Nice. Good.


    I'm someone who likes to know I've got a solid 25 years worth of finish on my floors. I like to pay the extra for the 3rd coat of finish (technically the 4th coat of product on white oak). These super tough finishes get TOUGHER with each coat. That's me. You need to do you.


    Remember: "oil" means YELLOW and STINKY! I'm an asthmatic migraine sufferer who is sensitive to odours....so oil based is OUT! An oil based finish in my home would make me sleep in a hotel x30 days or more. A floor finished in the winter time can take MORE time to finish curing because it is hard to leave the doors open at -15.

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • HU-6868130
    last month

    I definitely defer to SJ on all Polly questions. Will only add that I like two coats but maybe 3 is better. I don’t know about darkening over time. I would caution to make sure you have blinds installed (or some UV protection) before installation or the parts of flooring in the sun will lighten compared to the rest of the floor.

    AJ thanked HU-6868130
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    @zthar - Ooh, yes, I really liked Mirage when I looked at it! The cost was a shocker (this is when I was still looking at reasonably priced floors), and I never looked at it again. Even after all of these "upgrades" we keep making, I think Mirage would still come out more expensive!


    @SJ McCarthy - Thank you for the correction and your insights. Sheeeesh, I didn't know the odor for oil-based was that bad (I thought it'd be a few days of airing out at worst). Luckily we don't get to -15 here, but "YELLOW and STINKY" are definitely a big N.O. for me. Water-based it is!


    Our floor guy suggested 2 coats of water-based sealer and 2 coats of water-based finish, with an option to add one more coat of finish. This is all new to me, so I will follow your lead and add that extra coat of finish :-) I'm not sure if he's using Bona or Loba -- my husband only relayed to me it's one of the top products -- so I'll need to ask the floor guy for specifics.


    @HU-6868130 - Thank you for the suggestion! Yes, we'll definitely need to install some film on the windows and better blinds. Our largest room has full length windows and doors, so we'll be getting a lot of sun.


    Don't quote me on this, but supposedly oil-based will turn that amber color as @SJ McCarthy described, while water-based will get ever so slightly browner.

  • julieste
    last month

    You also need to look at the flip side. Oil based will wear longer than water based. So, decide what matters most to you.


    I beg to differ with SJMccarthy on how long the odor linger--a couple days at most.

    AJ thanked julieste
  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    We've seen homeowners out of the house for close to 3 weeks or longer when the odour of the oil based products is 'locked' inside the home. For those of us who are sensitive to odours (migraine sufferers, asthmatics, COPD sufferers, etc) we are unable to sleep in the same house as a 10 day old oil poly floor. For us, the stink is like breathing in ammonia. It constricts our lungs, it causes massive headaches (I lose vision in my left eye), vomiting (often goes with migraine) and a sense of feeling unwell for the entire time the floor takes to cure.


    These are all KNOWN reactions to HIGH VOC content. Since the OP is in California, the VOC content in the finish *should be lower (than Minwax 550...which means VOC 550g/L) it still means the VOC content is still allowed to be HIGH if the containers of the product are small enough (don't get me going on that little nugget).


    The top water based products (not the off the shelf stuff nor the 1 part products) are tougher than oil based. Yes the cost is higher but then again the cost of living in a hotel for another 3 weeks is also pricey.


    Loba 2K Supra AT, for example, is infused with ceramic nanobeads. They are equal in performance to Aluminum Oxide factory finishes. The myth that water based products are inferior only goes as far as the Home Depot parking lot. So long as the professional works with PROFESSIONAL GRADE materials (not Varathane, not Rustoleum, not DuraSeal) then the 2 PART water based products are superior to oil baed.


    But the caveat of "...so long as the professional works with professional grade materials..." is the ONE AREA where we see concerns. Many "pro's" do not have the education (ie. paid for the Bona or Loba training themselves) to work these high-end products.

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  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thank you @julieste. I was also told by a friend that oil-based will last longer, but I just hate the ambering (that's one of the main reasons we didn't go with my husband's first choice of maple; everything was either too yellow or too orange for me, depending on the stain). I think I can live with the shorter lifespan of the finish, assuming it's not ridiculously short. I'm imagining at least 25 years before we'd entertain the idea of refinishing (my parents are only starting to consider refinishing their floor after 30+ years, and we used to use water toys on the hardwood when I was a kid... No idea what they were thinking).


    @SJ McCarthy: I am waiting to hear back from my floor guy on exactly what product he is using, but for whatever reason he suggested 2 coats of sealant and 2 coats of finish. I guess he told my husband he does not recommend the 3rd layer, as that's when it will start to change color? I will speak with him myself though, as I care more about the details than my husband does.. :-)

  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Sigh, the floor guy called back when I was in a meeting, so my husband asked my high level questions and took notes.


    They would use "Basic Streetshoe NXT Satin" for finish. They used to use Bona for 10 years, but sometimes had to redo it for [whatever reason... husband didn't care], but switched to StreetShoe 20 years ago and has seen better results. Appears OK from a brief check (I don't know how to hyperlink the exact comment.. But https://www.houzz.com/discussions/4283311/help-conflicting-info-during-flooring-estimates-what-materials from Cancork Floor Inc.).


    Hardwood is WD flooring (solid) and Ashawa Bay (engineered). Husband made the executive decision to go with 5", so he doesn't have to look at any more floors with me.


    So it sounds like Sika MB sealer, Sika T-21 adhesive and moisture control (I assume this is for slab). 2 coats water-based sealer and 2 coats water-based finish, the 3rd coat of finish (5th total) was not recommended as it affected the color or something.

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    Excellent link! (smiley face...I was Cancork Floor until I became a private member...;-)


    StreetShoe is a VERY good product. I keep forgetting about StreetShoe. They have excellent commercial grade lines.


    There is no issue with StreetShoe. The amount of coats is only because the installer wants 2 coats of sealant. Total coats for StreetShoe (all products put together) should a maximum of 4 (2 coats sealant + 2 coats of Finish).

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    @SJ McCarthy: Ha! That's funny. I was reading a few other threads, then noticed the helpful responses were from you as well :-) You are very much appreciated!!

    I am relieved to hear StreetShoe has your stamp of approval. I was a bit worried that it was cheaper than Bona and Loba.. But didn't want to question our floor guy, as my husband says I'm annoying him (I've checked out half his store, changed floors 4 times, and keep asking questions about everything).


    Is there any reason to do 2 coats of sealant and 2 coats of finish, vs 1 coat of sealant and 3 coats of finish? Will it be equally durable? I just assumed finish would be tougher than sealant, couldn't find any info online about the reasoning for 2:2 vs 1:3.

  • SJ McCarthy
    last month

    Hi AJ. I'm glad you've enjoyed my posts. At this point, I'm out of my depth. There could be several reasons for 2 coats of sealant. One of the main reasons why white oak requires a sealant is because of tannin pull. The tannins are the colours in the wood itself. They can be brought to the surface (ie. the pull) when water based polyurethanes are used. White oak is famous for this situation so sealants are required when working with white oak (especially when no stain is involved).


    Some manufacturers suggest two thin coats of sealant over white oak to enhance the 'sealing' process. This increases the protection against tannin pull. Then two coats of finish are put down because you already have 2 coats of 'film building' product on there.


    This is just 'top of my head' reasoning. I've not worked with StreetShoe personally. I have seen it worked over cork and it did a great job (cork being the softest hardwood in the world...if it works for cork then it is a FANTASTIC finish).


    The devil is in the details. If your installer/refinisher works with StreetShoe and knows white oak then I would go with what s/he says. Like I said, this is just top-of-the-head guessing on my part.

    AJ thanked SJ McCarthy
  • AJ
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks for your thoughts, @SJ McCarthy! Whether or not that's our guy's reasoning, your explanation makes sense to me. I was thinking they just aren't careful with the sealant, so they'd do 2 layers to make sure everywhere was covered (that'd be scary).


    My floor guy has used StreetShoe for 20 years and I've seen his work in a few houses (albeit some did not use white oak), so I guess he knows what he's doing. I will put my faith in his recommendations, and take comfort in knowing they have passed your sniff test :-)


    Thank you again to everyone for all the help!! We will proceed with what I mentioned above, and see how it all goes... Fingers crossed!


    We're still a few weeks out, but will post some pics of the process (hopefully I don't forget).