Selecting Your Hardwood Floor And Finding The Right Flooring Contractor


I have been researching various wood floor products and have finally decided to install solid oak flooring (red or white – tbd), 2 1/4″ strip, select grade. I would appreciate your opinion on:

1) what finish to use; I read your article on DuraSeal 1000, but it was a bit inconclusive. Did you ever try it? If so, do you still endorse it? Is there another product you endorse more strongly now?

2) what oak strip floor manufacturer to use and your opinion on a reasonable price to pay for it (fully installed w/o new baseboards);

3) any floor carpenters you recommend in the Dallas, Texas metroplex

Here’s a bit of background on the planned installation:

Location = Richardson, Texas (a Northern suburb of Dallas) Sub-Floor = house built on concrete slab; plan to sub-floor with plywood

Rooms = (ALL DOWNSTAIRS/ON GRADE) formal dining, formal living, family room, hallway, and master bedroom (~1500 sq ft); all other downstairs rooms are tile except the office that was installed originally with hardwood

Finally, I would appreciate it if you would give me feedback on the decision to use solid oak hardwood. Am I making a bad choice for a Texas installation? I like the stability of the engineered/laminated woods, but am not happy with the finishes (can’t get Lauzon in Texas) or the installation options (uncomfortable with floating and with glue-down). That’s why I decided to stick with the ‘tried-and-true’ solids.

I love your website and have found it EXTREMELY informative! I just wish you lived much farther south of the border!! Thanks so much for your assistance.



Dear Lena

Before you consider installing a solid wood floor on concrete be sure to buy and read my “Wood Floors on Concrete” article. There are many complex issues here that make such a nail down floor difficult to install on a concrete subfloor. Flatness of the slab, and moisture incursion are just two. There are lots of tests you have to put the slab through before you consider this. So I really feel like you are jumping ahead of yourself when your ask only about the floor finishes.

But here are you answers. I was just about to try out the Dura Seal water based finish, on a new oak floor I installed for a client about 3 years ago. I did my research and found this product. But the client happened to be an art restorer, and refused to have such a finish applied on his floors. He said that water based finishes were still in their infancy, and that he had tried on his previous house to apply a well known water based finish to the baseboards.

The baseboards would turn opaque white in humid weather, and never looked any good in any case, as the finish had a bluish white opaqueness to it. It was very subtle, but as a finish expert he could see the difference. Then I remembered one of own jobs, about 10 years earlier had turned whitish also. We could only tell this when the owner had someone else do a small hall next to my original job about 3 years after. They had used the same finish, and yet my finish was now lighter and older than his. At the time I had no explanation for this. It seems as this finish ages, it doesn’t yellow but whitens. And now I’ve seen finishes 7 years old that were so opaque white that I couldn’t tell what kind of wood it was.

The chemistry of this effect is still under dispute, and I will be speaking to some industrial chemists about this very soon. But apparently the makers of water base finishes have not sorted this out yet, and admit that their finishes last only about 10 years. That’s not very good, as the oil poly finish I’m sitting over right now is 22 years old, and very sound, and looks great.

So, that’s why I haven’t written further about these water base finish, and I will not recommend them unless you want a very fast drying but short lived finish. I will be writing an extensive article on this matter sometime this year, but for now I suggest 3 coats of the oil modified poly finish as described in my poly w/o bubbles article. Use the Fabulon Brand Satin Poly, that’s what I use for all three coats, no sealers.

Use a locally made unfinished strip floor that is acclimatized to your region. That’s a whole lot better that importing some expensive wood from Canada. Find out where your local hardwood floor companies buy their wood, these places are glad to sell to the general public. Stay away from those floor boutique showrooms. Quarter sawn white oak is just about the prettiest, most moisture stable and durable hardwood floor I know of. I’m sitting over one right now that’s about 100 years old.

Sorry about this, but I never recommend tradesmen. Read and follow the free article on How to Hire a Flooring Contractor in the “How To” section. I don’t even recommend trades in my own city of Toronto. Once you understand how to install a wood floor on concrete, find out who out there will do the job correctly. Not cheaply or rapidly, but right the first time. Choose the wood your know will be stable in your environment. Choose then the finish and application method, and find out who will specify all this in their contracts. Compare only apples to apples.

For instance the best tried and true method for installing wood on concrete is to glue (with urethane glue or DriTac adhesive) a 3/4″ block or herringbone patterned parquet to the concrete. I’ve seen these floors in many century houses, and they are still going strong. But read my Wood on Concrete article and you’ll see the best right down to the worst choices.

Oh, and if you give me your final choice of wood and installation method, I will give you a ball park price. As any hardwood floor job can run from $6.50 for the simplest parquet, to $15 for a strip floor with the two layer of 1/2″ plywood subfloor. On up to 15-20 buck per square foot for the fancy herringbone and block patterned floors.

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.