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How Do You Know You're Buying A Top Quality Wooden Floor

24/06/2023 Turgon Flooring
They Told me that it was Top Quality Wooden Flooring 

Well of course it was top quality because they told you it was top quality. The website looked nice and they told you they had a billion pounds worth of stock in the warehouse, all ready for immediate dispatch before you even had time to take the dog for a wee. The product was probably nicely disguised too, under some fancy sounding range, like ‘The Elegance Exclusive Executive Ultimate Range’ or some other Shmutzy Putzy sounding name. But was it ‘A Top Quality Wooden Floor’. Well, if everybody’s selling top quality, who’s selling the Shmutter.

On the whole, most wooden floors come from either Asia, Europe or North America. This of course covers a huge area including China and parts of Russia. But before I continue, let me just say that if by chance I should be found dead under mysterious circumstances, with large amounts of  polonium B in my carcass, blame the Russians, or the Chinese. So at the expense of upsetting the MSS and the KGB, here you go.

Although it produces a huge amount of engineered and solid oak wooden flooring, China actually imports a lot of its raw oak from other parts of the world, manufactures it, then sells it back into Europe. Why, because logging is banned in China, so they just buy it illegally from the Russian mafia instead. But what about the quality ? Most companies will tell you they represent excellent value for money. Well I can tell you from experience that they don't. And here’s why. In the early days of Turgon when we were running from a small office in my bedroom, we were 'convinced' to try a container of Chinese made, unfinished oak flooring. The oak was Siberian Oak, and it was so wild in colour variation after we’d hand finished, I actually thought our finishers had spent all night in a marijuana induced daze. What a mess. And it just got worse. Over a period of time the fitters began complaining about the quality of the boards, and how difficult they were to fit due to poor engineering. The problems didn’t stop there either, because we then started getting complaints from customers who told us the boards were starting to de laminate. All in all it became a costly affair. We had to start selecting boards in production so the variation was kept to a minimum, and the fitters often spend a lot more time fitting the floors because of poor engineering. And customers still weren’t happy.

European made wooden flooring products on the other hand do represent excellent value for money as far as I'm concerned. Generally they are extremely well engineered, making them easy to fit, easier to hand finish, and the grades tend to be far more reliable than the Chinese products. I could go on and on as to why European products are better, but its pointless, because deep in the heart of your bottom you know I’m right. They’re just not as good and that’s the end of the matter.

Try and name just one famous brand from China. Go on. Think hard. Because Ive spent half the morning trying to come up with a well known Chinese made product, and all I can come up with is the ‘Duck in Soy Sauce’ from my local Chinese take away, The Golden Dish. See, I’m always happy to recommend if its good.

Simple guide of what to look for when buying wooden flooring.
  1. Never make you're decision based on seeing a small sample of wood. There will always be variation in the planks whether its prime grade or rustic. Wild variation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just make sure its what you want. Always ask for a specification of the grade, and try and see a picture of a few boards together if you can, so you know what to expect. In my experience, the rustic grades of Chinese products can be pretty poor, with huge chunks of black or brown filler being used where the knot was.
  2.  If you're buying a multi layered product, check the quality of the plywood. Quality plywood will be made of even layers of ply. If you can't tell, then ask where the product is made.
  3. Chinese products tend to be odd sizes like 148mm or 189mm wide, usually with lengths of 1860mm, although you can now get lengths of 2.2 mtrs as well.

Finally, I do appreciate that everybody has a budget and therefore Chinese made products will always be popular. Just as long as you understand the pitfalls. Most of my comments and observations were made on my experiences from 20 years ago, so you may be wondering if my new experiences have changed my opinion at all. Nope. Not one bit.

Unfortunately I have to go. There’s a man at my door screaming at me in Cantonese.