Thursday, March 12, 2009

And the final flooring selection is...

American Black Cherry!

After considering the several FSC Certified hardwood flooring options from The Collins Companies, we decided that Black Cherry will best suit our needs for this project. We received the samples a few days ago and the Cherry was absolutely beautiful. And seeing that the Collins Pennsylvania Forest is home to the "finest Black Cherry hardwood forests in the world", how could we pass up this opportunity to source our lumber locally from PA?

Upon deciding on the Cherry, there were only two decisions left to make: whether to go with prefinished vs. unfinished floors and what size planks to use.

After weighing the pros and cons of the different finishing options, we decided to go with the prefinished boards. There were four main reasons for this: 1) it is much more cost effective to prefinish--about 1/3 of the cost of finishing on-site, 2) prefinished floors tend to be more durable because the coats are applied in a very controlled environment and in thin, multiple layers (rather than mopping on thick layers) which results in a very clean, smooth look, 3) we simply could not come to terms with going through all the effort we've exerted to keep the house clean and chemical free, and then introduce drum sanders and finishing chemicals. Right now the house is nearly done and painted with non-toxic paint- the two just didn't seem to fit. 4) Time- unfinished boards would require losing about a week's worth of work time in the house due to the drying times when no one can else be in the house. We are already behind schedule so this was important to us.

Of course, there are a couple of advantages to getting unfinished wood planks and finishing them on-site. 1) You can get a more cohesive visual surface when you spread the finish over the planks after they are laid. The seams between the boards become a little less pronounced. This of course comes down to the "look" you are going for. 2) The floors tend to be more "waterproof" when finished on-site. The reason for this is that if water is spilled on the floor (and sits for some time) it can make it's way through the seams between the boards. With prefinished boards, you don't have any barrier to stop the water from migrating through. When you cover the entire floor with a continuous layer of polyurethane, you create a protective seal against moisture. However, if you get quality made floors that have a very tight tongue & groove seam that lock into place, you should have adequate protection against migrating moisture.

We requested a sample of the clear coat finished cherry as well as a 'cherry stained' cherry. Since our original plan was to compliment the wood window color (deep Chestnut) with the wood floor color, the 'cherry stained' cherry worked out perfectly. Cherry will also naturally darken over time which will only enhance its appeal. We went with a medium luster (28) and also requested the info regarding what products they use for finishing- all are VOC compliant. The process is actually a five coat finish that results in a beautiful and very durable surface.

It is true that American Black Cherry is not one of the hardest woods. Having a Janka wood hardness scale rating of 950, it ranks just below Black Walnut and above Longleaf Pine. The difference with this particular wood is that it is the highest quality American Black Cherry you can find. The samples we received were some of the densest cherry I have ever seen. The floors will inevitably show wear and tear over the years (which is one of the great features of Cherry in that it only gets better with age) but its good to know that we are installing such a high quality wood.

The other choice we needed to make was the plank size. We had a choice between 2-3/4" and 5-1/2" wide planks. After seeing the samples we decided to go with the 5-3/4" wide planks. The cost was really not that much more in the end and who wouldn't want wider planks?

The flooring should be arriving in about two weeks. We are planning on installing the floors ourselves. The good thing is that with wider planks it should take us less least, we hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pennsylvania cherry is one of the world's finest woods for cabinetry and furniture. When exposed to uv light it will age and become much darker than it is freshly sawn. The Philly Museum of Art has some old cherry furniture if you want to get a taste of what it will look like.