Hardwood Flooring and Installation


StairSteps only supplies 100% Canadian hardwood flooring.

Our service area mainly focuses on the Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto area's. Although there are many different manufacturers and origins of hardwood flooring, if You are looking to install one of the two most popular choices in hardwood flooring, which is Oak or Maple, we can give you the best product on the market. today. We have found that "Superior Flooring" provides the best all around hardwood flooring cheaper than other manufacturers for the following reasons; 

 

  • All aspects of Superior hardwood flooring including the quality control of the actual wood, the milling and the finishing processes respectively are equal to the quality of the more expensive brands
  • Their "Select" Grade is equal to, or better than other companies "Select and Better" Grade (Please see more about Hardwood Grading below.
  • Superior Flooring have the longest board plank lengths in the industry. Averaging 44" in length. That is almost a 4' (Feet). long. This in comparison to the industry average of 28" board lengths.

 

We are not a store. We are a professional installation company with vast experience in hardwoods. We know what brands and grades have met our previous customer's standards. Please read our Products & Services  page to learn more about us and how we operate.

We understand that consumers are extremely vigilant with regards to the prices they are willing to pay when hardwood flooring is concerned. This is totally understandable, as we would feel the same way. But problems arise when retailers do not fully explain the grading system.

 

 

 

Wood not dried prior to milling

 How important are hardwood grades?

Wood not dried prior to milling

This is a difficult question to answer.

 

Notice the difference in board widths. The top-left board is the correct size at 3 1/4", the top-right board is 3/16" thinner at 3 1/16". This particular hardwood was rated "Select grade". These two boards were pulled from the same box.

So how can you tell if the hardwood flooring that you are considering is justly graded Select and better, or Select?

Is the grading system Standard across the industry?

Select and Select and Better grade's are standard amongst hardwood flooring manufacturers. The problem is that a manufacturer has the ability to determine these grades to a certain extent. For example a Select grade of one particular brand can be as good as, or even better than a Select and Better grade of another brand. Knowing and using different brands familiarizes one with that particular manufacturers standard and consistency. For example, we frequently use a Select grade Canadian hardwood that has an exceptional drying and milling process, yields several 6 to 7 foot boards in every box and carries a price tag cheaper than all "Real" Select and Better grade hardwood flooring.

What does this mean? Well, it means that you may not have to pay an unnecessary premium for hardwood flooring that carries a meaningless sticker on the box.

In our experience, grades that one should generally stay away from, are boxes that carry the names, "Rustic", "Country",  "Mill", "Pioneer" and "Pub" to name a few. With that said you may find other grades which are not necessarily sub-par but are more subjective to ones taste. For example "charactor grade" has been known to have beautiful milling, but showcases more natural characteristics in the wood like Oak or Hickory knotts. Again this comes down to the manufacturer. 

So as you can see it's  not so "cut and dried", but hardwood flooring manufacturers that have been around for many years are typically doing something right.

 

 

 

 HARDWOOD FLOORING GRADES 

Select and Better or "A" Grade

Select and Better grade is meant to be the "Cream of the crop" of Hardwood floors. With Select and Better grade hardwood flooring you should find the following true. Although, you must keep in mind, a manufacturer can place a select and Better sticker on it's product at his discretion. The grade posted is as only as good as the manufacturer posting it.

 

  1. Longer board lengths - Some manufacturers do not supply any full length 6' to 8' boards regardless of grade level. This is one of the reasons that we prefer to use Superior" brand hardwood flooring. Each box will contain from 4 to 10 boards 7' or longer.
  2. Kiln dried before milling - If wood is not properly dried prior to milling, Boards that contain a higher moisture content will enviably shrink. This will cause gaps in the floor equal to the shrinkage amount. This problem is far less rare that one might think.
  3. Lower colour variation between boards - The darker that the stain is on the boards, the less that colour variation comes into play. Even the same type of wood cut from the same tree will vary in colour. Select and better grade hardwood boards should have been "SELECTED" when in their natural unfinished state. Whichever board colours are too light or dark should be moved on down the "grade" ladder, those of you who are planing a Natural finished colour, which is simply applications of polyurethane, you will always find a slight variation of colour. This is especially true with oak.
  4. Minimum 7 coats of finish - This is typically a problem with product coming from Abroad. Now, not every manufacturer Abroad provides an inadequate finish. But you are far more likely to find a Canadian hardwood with a proper finish than you are hardwood  from abroad.
  5. Knots - Wood naturally has knots, but there is a difference between a surface knot and a deep knot that has or will end up becoming a hole. Surface knots are shallow and add character to the floor. This holds most true with oak, as Maple will show streaking. With that said a justified Select & Better grade of hardwood will have limited knots, and small in nature.

Select or "B" Grade

Select grade hardwood is a shade lower that Select and Better. Most of the Select grade boards are actually capable of making the Select and Better grade. But it will also contain boards that may have some slight defects.

In order for "Select" grade hardwood to consist of superior quality than the lower grades, it still must (or should) have a minimum of defects. In our experience the most common issue with regards to Select grade hardwood is the milling. Again keep in mind this will depend on the manufacturer as to what "Select" grade comprises of.  

All others grades, "C" and lower

Here is where you especially have to "dot your i's and cross your t's". If you do not see a posted grade, you best be careful. If the grade is not either Select and Better or Select, than depending on the manufacturer, it will carry a name such as

  • Rustic
  • Mill
  • Pioneer
  • Country
  • Pub etc....

In our experience, purchasing these types of grades are usually a problem. Mind you, there are some manufacturers who produce a suitable  "C" grade, although you will not find any long boards and there will be at least some milling issues. 

 

 

The moral of the "Hardwood Grade" story is, that it is extremely advantageous to have installed different brands and their varying grades. Only then, can someone truly know where the real value lies.