Choosing The Right Wood Floors For You

Times change, and wood flooring in today’s homes is no exception. I know that including pre-finished wood floors in the discussion will spark some doubt in my Old Yankee-purist area of operations, New England :).  However, just like the popularity in the once shunned gas fireplace, there are situations that make pre-finished floors a good choice even if the tried and true finished on site floor is still in wde use.

I would like to start off by saying – nothing offers more choice than a hand selected and finished on site floor. The Owner who works with a true wood floor specialist can have floors in any width, specie and then customize the finish from natural, distressed, dyed and other opaque options. This is ultimately the only way to achieve a completely custom floor. In remodeling, this is almost always the choice because we are either matching something or need to compliment something that exists. My top choice in site finished flooring is 8 inch quarter sawn oak- glued and nailed with a beautiful walnut stain and satin finish. It is my top choice because it is extremely durable and stable, true to local building materials and history, and is a timeless material that can be re-sanded and stained.

This hardwood floor in Needham was installed onsite to match existing flooring throughout the home

The earliest versions of pre-finished wood flooring left a lot to be desired. There is a bevel on each flooring strip that is the first and most obvious sign that a floor is pre-finished, and earlier versions had a much larger bevel. Enough of the down sides- here is why prefinished flooring has gained momentum: 1- prefinished floors have a tougher finish due to materials that can only be applied in a factory setting, 2- prefinished floors are now available in a wide variety of widths, species and finished that cannot be duplicated on site, 3- engineered products with natural wood finishes are ideal over concrete subfloors in high rise and basement applications, 4-prefinished flooring can be installed virtually odor free.

This is a prefinished floor we are currently installing in a Dover basement remodel

A few things to ask your designer or contractor will include: what to do with stairs that are in the space, if the floors can be refinished at a later date,  and whether the thickness is OK for adjoining flooring. I should also note that one of the most common mistakes I see is walking into a home with multiple finishes, probably because of all the choices…..consistency in flooring has always been important, so narrow it down to one!

The Importance of Mock-ups in Home Remodeling

Many times in the construction process there are details that can benefit from a template, mock-up or pattern. Often we mock-up decorative window pediments so the client can feel comfortable with the scale and how it looks on the house. This can also help keep the construction moving along if we need to have a coppersmith create caps for those pediments- they can be made while the carpentry is happening so they get installed right away instead of being delayed by waiting until the pediments are all built for measuring.

Sometimes one of our designers may ask the carpenter create a pattern to see the detail if there is any question about making it more optimum to the project. I know that I am someone who likes to see these so that I can make sure things look as good from our real vantage point as they do in the 3D rendering our architecture software produces. Details are the part of the project that make difference.

In the photo below, this rough mock-up at a project in Dover helped the client see the overhang of the roof, it helped the carpenter lay-out the final bracket installation and also allowed the designer to make a minor modification to the ceiling materials, rafter layout and little end detail. All of which will make standing up to this pool side bar a much more quality experience for everyone when it is done.

Roof mockup in Dover

If you are a visual person like me, don’t hesitate to ask for some tools to help understand your space better- maybe even drawing the built-in shelves on the wall before the carpenter starts will make you feel less anxious about the end result!

cabana roof in Dover        Copper roof overhang in Dover

 

 

 

 

 

Historic Homes in New England

We are very fortunate in our local communities from Holliston to Boston, where we can be an eye witness to some amazing antiques lining our main roads. I enjoy seeing a town’s church steeple before the town itself is visible, and always feel grateful to live in a place with so much early American History. I am a preservationist to some extent – I am a remodeler after all, and so I see and understand a lot of value in existing structures where others may want to simply demolish a home and start over. The caveat is that I am not a purist when it comes to preservation; first, because I am a property rights advocate, and there are too many people trying to take some of your rights away under the guise of preservation, and second, because once something reaches the point of being a safety hazard or reaches the end of its serviceability, it is ok to make progress to some extent. After all, isn’t that what the people who originally built the existing building were doing when they built it?

That said, there are many reasons to preserve some of our past, such as educational value, a sense of history, as well as the comfort in the community having a great foundation. That is why I was heartbroken today when I drove by one of my favorite homes- built circa 1774- during our country’s Revolutionary times. In the photo of the home still standing, you can see the classic salt box architecture, the period stile windows and the very small dormers in the attic to capture the southern sunlight. Imagine that every piece of this was struck by hand and that there was a farm all around it producing food to be consumed in the Boston area.

As I looked over the chimney that was still standing, I couldn’t help but be in awe of how elaborate this marvel of masonry was – 4 sides to provide heat in the cold winter months. The fireplace facing the street had an oven above the main firebox for baking. When you look at period architecture, that oversized central chimney was a product of that important piece of the building. I wish I had the opportunity to go through the home before it went down…. I will probably always expect to see it when I am driving through Dover.

May the new home being built on the lot be made half as well as this one- and provide history for a future generation 250 years from now.