After driving 40 minutes to Home Depot, I discovered that their website was wrong. Out of the 6-7 styles of flooring in stock they had only 2 with enough to do my job. Whats the point of only having 6 boxes (120 square feet) of hardwood flooring in stock? Even a tiny home needs more flooring then that.
I made an executive decision to drive to NH where there are 3 home depot’s and 2 Lowes within a 10 mile area give or take. On the way I remembered that there was a Lumber Liquidators and decided to shop there first.
Its in the basement and around the back of a furniture store but easy enough to locate. I located a display of natural red oak flooring that looked acceptable.
I had a choice of “select oak” or not. The select product has a more uniform color I was told. Unfortunately, the select product was sold out and I could only get the “non-select” oak.
The salesman assured me that the color variations would not be too bad. I figured I could cherry pick nice pieces for downstairs and use the rest in the loft where they would be less visible. I plunked down my Amex card and signed the receipt. As I was about to walk out I asked the sales guy “I can just return any unopened boxes right?” he said yes but with a 20% restocking fee! “. The piece of paper you just signed says that in the fine print. Thats a bad way of doing business if you ask me. Home Depot takes stuff no questions asked.
I figured the square footage to the exact amount and added 10%. To that number I added an extra box of 20 square feet “just in case”. The salesman told me that most people just figures 5% over not 10 as I had.
After unloading the boxes I sized up the amount of color variation and quality of pieces. Overall I was not that impressed. I had many warped pieces (greater than 1 inch) and several that were unusable due to surface defects.
The difference in color between lightest and darkest was about 6 shades or more. If you removed the darkest pieces the varation was maybe 3-4 shades of variation which I could live with. As the floor went down I decided that I like the variation more than I thought I would. On the fly I decided to include some of the darker pieces in the downstairs floor. Overall the color variations were not an issue for me at all.
When the floor was complete, I had about 5% scrap due to just crappy pieces being in the box. The other 5% was normal scrap from having small ends and rip cuts.
Bottom line is that the poor quality of the product forced me to use about 5% more material than I would have. If you factor this into the price of the flooring their pricing advantage begins to dissolve.
I can’t really recommend Lumber Liquidators flooring over anyone else. Their pricing is hard to compare to flooring carried by Home Depot or Lowes because the grading is tough to gauge (on purpose I suspect). Top of the line “select” grades are perhaps a few cents more per square foot at Home Depot.
For a flooring store with such low overhead (crappy location) and a draconian return policy (20% restocking) I expect better quality product or a deeper discount. Next time I will probably skip Lumber Liquidators and go with Home Depot. Even with their spotty selection, their prices are reasonable and they have better customer service IMO.