The unicorn of wood floors.

The unicorn of wood floors.

The unicorn of wood floors. 400 400 Indoorsy // @fortheindoorsy

I know I have given plenty of illustrations of how renovating a house feels, and I’m sure some of them are so great you probably feel like you’re right there with us. Unless you are Zach’s parents reading this (pic below — aren’t they so cute), then I’m happy that this isn’t your reality because it has been a teensy bit brutal.

Zach's parents on a ladder

We haven’t given a ton of updates lately because it turns out this home renovation deal actually takes over our lives. To give you an example, let’s talk about wood floors.

In regards to aesthetics and price point, here is the most perfect floor of all the wood floors I’ve scouted (and trust me, there have been many).

light white oak distressed floors

This is the Artisan Lilith by Green World Industries at about $4-$5/sqft. Isn’t she a beaut?! Distressed just enough, light but not whitewashed, just enough character and texture, all at a great price. The only problem? I was just about ready to sign on the dotted line, when he shows me the documentary 60 Minutes did on Lumber Liquidators, which found horribly high levels of formaldehyde in products manufactured in China.

His primary concern stemmed around the fact that the certifications many wood floors and companies advertise are actually certifying that the factory in which the product is produced is compliant. What this means is that the factory or manufacturer is capable of producing compliant products. In the documentary, one of the employees profiled reiterates this by saying that while it’s possible, it’s also very expensive. All this amounts to products not actually being made at the compliant levels the companies advertise and, as a result, off-gassing ridiculous amounts of formaldehyde. And if you don’t remember what formaldehyde is, then #TBT to middle school science class when you were forced to dissect a frog — that’s what preserves those guys (R.I.P.) and is formaldehyde’s most infamous use.

Here’s where we dabble in conspiracy. Are these Chinese manufacturers always lying? Who knows. Do the new compliance regulations and certifications assess each product that ships or samples of these products? Not clear.

So even though we’re probably in the clear, we decided to cut our losses and avoid the ambiguity by trying to find an American-made engineered hardwood at a price point of $4 – $5 that’s bonded with formaldehyde-free glue and has a a 2mm wear layer. So I’m basically looking for the equivalent of a unicorn.

I think half of this criteria was given as a way to entice me to buy wood-look tile instead of wood floors. But I’m way too stubborn to back down. It’s too hard and too cold and I don’t always want to have to wear socks with rubber grips on the bottom (even though I do love those). And Zach breaks everything. Less than an hour ago he broke a glass, it was a bowl a week ago, a wine glass as soon as it was opened out of the box — a lot of broken things. If we get tile, then picture frames, mirrors and vases will all be at risk. And with this new shared credit card thing, the “you break you buy” doesn’t really work in my bank account’s favor.

So my search has continued over the past two months and I’ve got very few things to show for it besides a ton of wood samples I now own because I’m too attached to their beauty to give them up. I’ve looked at a ton of  eco-friendly or green wood floors, but as weird as this sounds, we’re more concerned with safety. In my opinion at least, a company planting a tree for every tree they knock down doesn’t really solve for the fact that the glue in the floors they make may be slowly causing cancer cells to grow in my body. Fun fact: formaldehyde occurs naturally in wood, and thus, wood floors, so there isn’t much that can be done about that. But as the guy at TreeHouse says, “it’s not like you walk through a forest and say ‘wow, the air quality in this forest sucks.'”

With all that in mind, we’ve come up with one brand that’s actually everywhere that fits most of our criteria: it’s American made with PureBond, a formaldehyde-free glue. It doesn’t look exactly how I want it to look, but I think it’s a decent compromise.

Mohawk Drawbridge Oak

Alas, I bring you Mohawk Drawbridge Oak. It’s a little more consistent in it’s coloring than I wanted with a little less of the wire-brushed character, but it will do (I hope). And for our house, I still think wood flooring (even if it isn’t perfect) is better than tile. Granted, I’m not saying I won’t change my mind on which hardwood we actually purchase; I’m really good at that.

I also have a serious do-it-right-or-don’t-do-it-at-all/go-big-or-go-home mentality when it comes to principles. So if we’re caring about air quality, sustainability, and energy efficiency, we’re going to really care about it. Which is why we’re thinking about American Clay instead of texture and paint. But more on that if we actually do it because who really knows where we’ll end up on this.

I’m trying to get caught up on posts, so more later!

Z + B

1 Comment
  • AHHH! I’ve been dying for an update on this lovely project! Good for you for sticking to your guns and finding the best alternative for the wood flooring you really wanted. Dear god I don’t envy you and all these headache decisions. Keep on truckin’.

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