Pricing And Picking Oak Hardwood Flooring

Let’s talk about wood, shall we? As we mentioned on Tuesday, we decided to go with solid oak hardwoods for the four bedrooms and the hallway upstairs since many rooms downstairs along with the stairs themselves have a nice medium toned oak already (pretty similar to the hardwoods in our first house that ended up being super dog/kid friendly).

As for where to get it, first we looked on craigslist to see if anyone had a large quantity of something in the right tone/amount (no dice) and then we headed to Lumber Liquidators, since we’ve had luck with them when it came to buying hardwood floors for half of our first house back in 2007 and it’s also where we got the cork flooring for our kitchen in 2011. They always have a ton of selection, and tend to have lots in stock along with all of the underlayment & tools in one place, so they’re pretty much a one stop shop for us now that it’s our third time to the flooring rodeo.

Clara walked right in and made herself comfortable (the girl’s right at home on wood flooring, what can I say?) and we had a look around.

She also had some fun on the tiny set of display stairs. According to the guys who work there every kid who enters the store does that as some sort of unspoken toddler rite of passage.

We ended up grabbing six different samples to hold up against the stairs to see which one would be the best match (we tackled this “sampling phase” right before ripping out all of that nasty upstairs carpeting). Since the sun was setting, we waited until the next morning to take them to the new house so we could judge them in natural light.

We decided to try stripping the carpet off of just the top stair so we could be sure the wood under there was still in good shape (if it was completely damaged we’d have to refinish them, which would mean that we could be less careful about picking a matching wood tone for the upstairs). Thankfully the floor under the runner was in great shape (after we pulled about a hundred staples out by hand) and we loved the medium brown tone (not too yellow, not too dark, not too light). Basically it’s the Goldilocks of hard wood.

For a bit more on why we love not-too-dark-not-too-light-not-too-yellow-not-too-red-toned oak, it’s probably 50% personal preference (some people love it redder or more golden) and 50% practical (if you go too dark with hardwoods we hear that every spec of dust and pet hair can be seen, and if you go too light we’ve heard that wear and tear is also easier to spot since it’s such a light surface). And since we had practically the same tone of oak hardwoods in our first house for years (and it worked well for us – we loved how it looked with our furniture, etc) that ended up swaying us.

Can you tell from this bad iPhone picture of all the samples (sorry!) which one works the best with the stairs?

Yup, it’s the bottom left guy. He was the only one in almost exactly the same color and with the same variety of grain (some dark grain and some light grain). It was also the same thickness (2 1/4″) as the hardwood downstairs. So although we loved some of the wider board options, it felt true to our house and nice and cohesive to go with the one that was the right color, had the right amount of wood grain, and was the same width as the rest of the wood flooring in the house.

It took everything in us not to keep going down each step with the crowbar and the pliers, stripping that stained old carpet as we went. But we knew we had a date with the carpeting upstairs (it’s more important to rip that out and lay the new hardwoods before we move than it is to get it off the stairs, which can be done at any time). In the bad news department, that top step took us about 20 minutes to wrestle free (which means we have about three hours worth of work in our future). But stair runner, you have been warned. We’ll be back.

So after judging those samples in the nice natural light of the morning, we returned to Lumber Liquidators a day after our first trip to officially put in our order. We were armed with the square footage for all of the areas we needed to do, so now that we had picked our Hardwood Bachelor (he accepted our rose and everything), it was pretty straightforward.

Here’s a close up of our winner winner chicken dinner. It’s called Lono Oak and it’s a solid wood floor (it’s not engineered, and it’s 3/4″ thick so it can be refinished many times) and it comes with a 25 year warranty. Most hardwood flooring is in the $4-7-ish range, but LL’s list price was $3.69 per square foot.

Here’s where I smiled sweetly and asked my favorite negotiating question, which is “what’s your best price?” Then you just stand there. Resist the urge to mumble “uh, not that I’m trying to be tough” or “I’m sorry, forget it” Just stand there in silence and wait to see what they say. If they can come down, they’ll tell you. And if they can’t they’ll say they can’t and you can smile and say “just had to ask.” John hates this step, so it’s always my job. And before I threw out my favorite line, I also mentioned how this was our third big order from them so we’re definitely loyal repeat customers.

Boom: 10% off our entire order for those two sentences. So that took the price per square foot down to $3.29 and also scored us 10% off other things we grabbed like a special type of underlayment to work with our subfloor (more on that when we get to the installation process). Speaking of installing it, we’re going to attempt to do it all ourselves, and we better get started soon if we hope to move in 2.5 weeks! Plus we want to paint all of the blue/mauve trim (and maybe even the doors?) while the carpet’s out but before the floor goes down. So… yeah. Tick tock, Petersiks.

Meanwhile Clara was busy spicing up their brochure displays…

We left feeling pretty excited about our big upstairs flooring overhaul. Especially since we asked how much it would cost to hire their guys to install all the flooring and they said it would be around four thousand bucks! So assuming we can do it (knock on hardwood) it’ll definitely add up to some serious money saved.

So our hardwoods are ordered and we have a whole mess of blue trim to paint. We’d like to buy a paint sprayer and try our hand at that, so we’ll keep you posted. Should be interesting…


  1. Aly says

    Gorgeous floor choice, gorgeous daughter. :-)
    You’ll wonder how you ever lived without one. AND it’s a much less toxic option (I know that word got your attention Sherry!) than spray painting knick knacks in the future.

  2. jenn says

    my dad and i have installed hard wood floors a couple of times, we manage to finish each room in a day. it’s not too hard once you get going.

  3. Kim says

    Good for you on negotiating!!! I negotiate for a living (sweater production manager) and it’s taken a lot of time for me to be comfortable with it in my personal life. It’s not a cultural norm so I think it’s harder for the people you’re negotiating with to say no ;)

  4. April says

    Love your choice of hardwoods! I was wondering myself if you would try the paint sprayer route since your bestie has had such awesome experience with it. I think it would really help with covering all that blue. Good luck!

  5. Erin in VA says

    I was wondering if you were going to spray the trim since you didn’t need to worry about the floors. When we built our house, we did all of the painting ourselves and my husband sprayed the ceiling, primer and trim. It was a huge time saver and our family is very happy that we have a sprayer that they can borrow.

    Oh – be careful w/ your knees while doing all of the flooring. My husband developed bursitis in his knee from doing all the tiling and we had to sub out the kitchen and master bath because of it.

    Good luck! I cannot wait to see the after pictures.

  6. Katie says

    My husbands parents just installed hardwood floors in their downstairs and they are so afraid of them scratching its been 4 weeks and they haven’t taken the paper off of them yet. We joke its the equivalent of buying a couch and keeping the plastic on!

    Also I’m selfishly hoping you decide to install a new stair runner because I need a tutorial (no pressure!) Our poor puppy has been slipping down our stairs for months now so we put in temporary treads but yuck are they ugly

    • Katie says

      Ah sorry last one – but also I am SO afraid of haggling so I rarely do it. But we are renting a house for our wedding weekend this fall and I negotiated the sheets and cleaning service to be included in the price instead of paying $500 extra bucks!! I was so proud of myself!! My fiance says whats the worst that can happen? They say nope sorry!

  7. says

    I love the color hardwoods you chose! My husband and I would love to add hardwoods to our house but since we already live there it would be a task to get all the furniture moved around to do it. I can’t wait to hear how the installation goes and to see how it all comes out! I think hardwoods would really add to the look of our re-done bedroom. And we have a dog so it would be better than carpet!

    Master Bedroom Makeover-

  8. Laura says

    We bought a refurbished paint sprayer to deal with all of the trim in our house and it worked wonders! My fiancee actually wanted to paint! Usually that is a task he avoids more than he does his vegetables, but after purchasing the sprayer he went on a trim painting craze. He sprayed every piece of trim and I wasn’t even allowed to touch or use the sprayer! Oh, what a new tool can do for that guy!

    P.S. – Clara looked adorable with her red purse at the store!

  9. says

    Way to bust out those negotiating skills! :) This is going to look sa-weet installed! It’s so nice that it’s pre-finished, so you don’t have to worry about sanding/staining/poly coat after you install.

  10. says

    Glad to hear you have had such a good experience with them, we just placed our flooring order through them this week. We actually went with a laminate, which I NEVER thought I would choose, but we really liked the one we found and honestly could not tell much of a difference between it and the other real wood sample we liked. Now are you doing the install yourself, we got a quote from their installer, but are also checking with some friends who have done this sort of thing before on whether they could install our product for us cheaper. We are just praying we like the finished product :)

  11. says

    Trying not to write this every day, with every post buuuut… I am so stinkin’ excited about the new house!! LOVE your current house and everything you did in it, but this new home/project is just so exciting! Think the hardwood is a great choice. Can’t wait to see how the installation process goes!

  12. Kathy Benca says

    Not that you need suggestions, but because I’ve used it about a dozen times an absolutly LOVE it, you may want to check out the Wagner HVLP paint gun:

    Unfortunately, I see that the one I purchased is Out of Stock :(, but I’m now considering getting the upgrade since I like the less expensive version one so much! The best thing is that you can use your own compressor! It takes a bit of practice to get the “spray” just right, but once you get it down, the outcome is BEAUTIFUL!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *