The stores specializing in wood floors have indicated that the Big Box stores get seconds or a poorer grade of hardwood than the specialty stores, which is how the Big Box stores supposedly are able to charge less. Is this truth or myth? Are there more problems and more waste when using Big Box Stores Hardwoods?
Terry J. -- Quincy, IL
Terry, I'm sure there are many opinions on this question, but I have had good luck with hardwood flooring from big box home improvement stores. I believe the low prices they offer are due to being able to purchase in volume rather than because the products they carry might be inferior. I have not noticed having to cull out more defective boards from their boxes of hardwood flooring than those being sold by specialty stores.
As I'm sure you know, there are different grades of hardwood flooring. If you purchase a premium grade at a big box retailer, it should be very similar to the higher grades handled by specialty flooring stores. That being said, I have heard that some of the large flooring retailers that advertise their extremely low pricing on radio and television can have a few more defective boards in each box they sell. However, the pricing they offer may make it worthwhile to inspect each box a little more thoroughly.
There are a few advantages to shopping with a retailer that specializes in flooring: they often have a larger selection than big box stores and may be more likely to carry hardwood varieties considered to be exotic. You may also find the sales people to be more knowledgeable about the different types of hardwood flooring, but this isn't always the case. Many big box retailers have informed sales staffs as well.
There will always be a little waste when you're installing hardwood flooring. I would ask the salesperson what type of waste factor should be expected with the flooring product you choose. If there turns out to be an amount in excess of what you were told in more than a few boxes, I would bring it to the retailer's attention.
If you are using a contractor to install your flooring, make sure they know to pull out the bad boards. Most do it out of habit, but there are always a few that need to be told.