athens flooring

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Patricia Moreno’s great whip-whip-piked full in and 3.5 twist FX passes in Athens

Discount Wood Flooring or Fine Wood Flooring?

Discount flooring liquidators and home improvement stores often choose to sacrifice the quality of wood or workmanship to reduce their manufacturing cost. Don’t be fooled if the discount wood flooring appears roughly similar to fine wood flooring at the first glance. Here are important things to consider:

Hand-Scraped Flooring vs. Machine Scraping
Most hardwood flooring advertised as “hand-scraped” these days isn’t hand-scraped at all—it’s scraped by machines to appear hand-scraped. The patterns and marks are repetitive, and look “fake” when spread across your floor at home.

Southern Tradition flooring, on the other hand, is truly hand-scraped flooring. Hardwood floor artisans, personally trained by a world-renowned expert, “read” each board and use hand tools to bring out its unique personality with distinctive, natural-looking hardwood characteristics.

Floor Finish
Floor finish is a critically important step for hardwood flooring. The finish must be durable and elastic to resist scratching and wear, without clouding the natural grain and color of the wood. A poor floor finish can make even the most beautiful wood look dull.

Quality hardwood flooring has a high-quality floor finish, with a fine transparency that accentuates the natural beauty of the wood grain. Cheap hardwood floor finishes obscure the natural grain of the wood with a cloudy coating; scratches on the wood floor make this whitish coating readily apparent. Cheap hardwood floor finishes are also inconsistent in color, and can have rough surfaces with small raised bumps.

Hardwood Floor Creaking
With quality hardwood flooring, the gap between the “tongues” on board edges and the grooves they fit into is less than 0.15 MM. This tight attachment eliminates the creaking you find with cheap hardwood flooring when it is walked upon.

Precision Milling
Quality hardwood flooring is milled using expensive, high-end machines for extreme precision and consistency in height, length, width, edges and ends. Bargain flooring is manufactured using less expensive and precise machines, resulting in gaps between board edges and ends, as well as differences in thickness.

Floor Glue Safety
Quality hardwood flooring uses Taier E1 glue between layers, with a very low level of formaldehyde. Southern Traditions flooring, for example, conforms to CARB, with a formaldehyde level far below its guidelines. Vapors from cheap glues can be harmful to your health!

Engineered Flooring
Good quality engineered hardwoods use a veneer core with higher-quality tropical woods alternately layered in a crisscross pattern, for superior weight-bearing strength and screw-holding ability. The gap between each layer should measure less than 1mm. A quality engineered floor has higher density and is more durable than cheap plywoods, regardless of how similar they look on the surface. Learn about engineered flooring vs. solid wood flooring here.

Wear Layer
With quality hardwood flooring, you can count on the exact thickness claimed for its wear layer. But as thinner wear layers are less expensive to produce, cheap flooring is often found to have a wear layer that is thinner than what is claimed.

Authentic Wood Species
Cheap flooring often uses deceptive wood species names, such as “walnut” that’s really elm stained a walnut color, or “mahogany” that’s Chinese walnut stained a mahogany color. With fine wood flooring such as Southern Traditions, the wood that’s named is the wood you get.

Longer Wood Plank Length
Long planks are more expensive to produce, but make a more beautiful floor. Short boards can look like shoeboxes when placed in a floor. Cheap wood flooring typically includes too many short planks, with boards as small as one foot in length. But quality hardwood flooring uses longer planks. Southern Traditions, for example, includes boards up to seven feet in length, with the average being over three feet.

Hardwood Floor Defect Rate
Cheap flooring has a higher rate of defects. Southern Traditions inspects every board and discards those with unattractive defects

Floor Consistency
Cheap flooring is plagued with inconsistency in color, grain, texture and scraping. Our quality control experts match each batch for consistency in these important features.

Choosing a Hardwood Floor Species

The most important factor in choosing a wood species is, of course, the appearance. While the stains and finishes add variability to them, different woods can complement modern, classic, rustic or other types of settings. For example, maple has a more subtle, elegant look, while hickory has a more unique and “outspoken” appearance. The experts in a fine flooring store can help you make the right choices.

There are subtle differences as well. For example, Big Leaf Acacia features less character, with a plain grain, fewer knots and wider age circles, while the Small Leaf Acacia is full of character, with more knots and a swirling grain. It costs us more, but it makes a prettier floor.

In addition to appearance, you should also consider durability, moisture-resistance and hardness, depending on the area of the home where the flooring will be placed. Our Small Leaf Acacia, for example has higher density, so it’s a lot harder, where Big Leaf Acacia has lower density, so it’s softer and lighter. Your in-store flooring expert can help you make the right decisions. 

Cherry Hardwood Floors
Cherry is one of the most exquisite species. Cherry color varies from rich red to reddish brown, and the custom scraping and double stain bring out the beauty and elegance of Cherry. This species has a subtle, straight grain, and a satiny, smooth texture.

Walnut Hardwood Floors
Walnut is one of the most beautiful and high-end hardwood species you will enjoy for a lifetime. Its delightful swirling grain and rich dark brown tone makes the whole house shine. Our custom-scraping and dual hand stain adds more depth and real antique looking to the appearance.

Maple Hardwood Floors
Maple has been a favorite of Furniture and flooring manufacturers since the early Colonial Days. Maple has a delicate, uniform texture, which adds elegance into your room. It is usually straight-grained, but it can also occur as “curly,” ‘Fiddleback,“ and "birds-eye” figure.

Hickory Hardwood Floors
Hickory is one of the hardest species and it is well known for its very good strength and shock resistance. Because of this, it’s been the premiere species for tool handles, furniture, ladders, cabinetry, and of course, flooring. Hickory has unique grain pattern, and color variations.

Birch Hardwood Floors
From sap to bark, birch trees are used to make everything from beer to toothpicks. Native Americans stretched birch bark on their canoe frames and used the wood to make arrows. Birch is generally straight-grained with a fine uniform texture, generally characterized by a plain and often curly or wavy pattern. A fairly heavy and strong wood, birch is extensively used for furniture, millwork and paneling, doors, kitchen cabinets and flooring.

Oak Hardwood Floors
The White Oak used in our floors is impervious to liquids, which is why it’s used by wooden ship builders and wine barrel makers. A heavy, hard wood with great wear-resistance, in its natural form White Oak has light-to-dark-brown heartwood. White Oak is mostly straight-grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays than Red Oak. Once hand-scraped and sanded, White Oak can take a wide range of finishes from natural clear tones to dark browns, reds and slates.

Acacia Hardwood Floors
The species Acacia has strikingly dynamic grain and knots. Some say these attributes contribute to a home full of positive energy, exuberant flow and optimistic attitude. As one of the hardest woods in the world, Acacia’s dynamic looks adds exciting spirit to a home with long-lasting durability as well as an elegant look.

African Mahogany Hardwood Floors
Also known as Doussie, African Mahogany is a beautiful orange/brown wood which ages to a medium brown color. It is one of the most popular imported flooring species used in Europe due to its hard, high density, elegant cross grain, and lustrous surface. African Mahogany exhibits a medium range of color variation between golden tans to darker orange/browns.

African Rosewood Hardwood Floors
Also known as Bubinga, African Rosewood is a beautiful dense hardwood with a rose-colored background and medium tone striping. African Rosewood is very uniform in color and graining, has a lustrous surface, and is a favorite material for making fine instruments.

Red Rose Hardwood Floors
Also known as Berlinia, Red Rose is a beautifully dense hardwood with brown heartwood, light rouge to deep red brown hues, with brown streaking in the grain. Red Rose is used extensively in Europe for fine furniture due to the wood’s straight or interlocking grain patterns. Red Rose is often suggested as a substitute for Oak.

Brazilian Cherry Hardwood Floors
When first milled Brazilian Cheery has a tan/salmon color with black striping which turns a rich deep red color over time. This species is the most popular imported hardwood given its inherent beauty, rich coloring and superior hardness. Brazilian Cherry varies from yellowish hues to dark reds with black striping. Quartered selection yields the most uniform look/color range.

Backsplashes

We have so many people coming into our establishment asking for backsplashes.  The perception by many of these is that there is a ready made backsplash and you can pick one off the shelf.  Backsplashes are created from mosaics, tile, stone and etc. to fit your wall and create a design that goes with your decor.

Also, Better Homes and Gardens considers changing a backsplash is one of the “small remodeling projects that can add value to your house.”

In order to provide some assistance we have created this mini course. Hope you enjoy it and gain some knowledge.

Changing the Backsplash

Choose inexpensive ceramic or porcelain  tiles and add sparkle with knockout decorative pieces in glass or metal, or install a checkerboard pattern of several hues.