Hardwood Floors

I need some opinions. I currently have about 1700+ square feet of carpet to replace with Hardwood floors. There are several options I am considering.
My goal is something: 1) Cost effective 2) Low Maintenaance 3) Looks half way decent.
Option 1) Get a professional to install prefinished hardwood floors priced from $8.50-$10.00 a square feet. Final cost $17-20K
2) Get a professional to install unfinished floors that will need sanding, staining, etc (the old fashioned way) End up costing about the same $17-20K
3) Get the materials myself and have a contractor do it the old fashioned way. $12-15K
4) Get the prefinished materials myself and have contractor install it $9-10K
5) Do it all my self Materials 6K
Lastly, Does any one have experience with working with imported wood from China? It cost about 30-40% less than domestic but how is the quality and any potential issues/ concerns? Any help would be appreciated.
Tim
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One thing, buy yourself a good Moisture Meter, you dont want that floor instaled to wet or it will shrink.
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My own experience with hardwood floors is that if you have any children or especially any pets with claws, then I wouldn't consider hardwood floors very ideal. That might violate your goals of "low maintenance" (because you may have to refinish them with some frequency) and "looks half way decent" (scratches and dents WILL occur). If you only have mature people in the house that walk around barefoot or in socks, then you'll be fine for a long time with hardwood floors.
PJ
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wrote:

While claws can definitely damage HW floors, cat puke is much easier to clean up off wood than carpet. <G>
Barry
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On Thu, 01 Apr 2004 20:45:00 GMT, B a r r y

Here, here! My life is a LOT easier now that I've ripped up the nasty carpet and had the hardwood floors refinished. A quck swipe with a paper towell does the trick!
Lauri in WA
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Not knowing your skills or pocket book I can't say for sure what is best. Option 4 is a good method though. I've done it and anyone with a tiny bit of skill to measure and cut can do a good job. Minimal tools are needed. Knee pads are a must, hammer, tape measure, saw (power miter saw is good), tools to remove the existing baseboards, saw to cut in the door casings. Ed
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If it makes any difference to you, find out what species of wood you'd be getting from China. That country has a reputation for putting environmental concerns about 50 years behind business development. In other words, they don't give a damn.
As far as hardwood in general, be prepared for squeaks which are louder than normal conversational speech, chilliness, and quite possibly very sore feet. On the plus side, the squeaks make an excellent security system. If you're 100% sure that everyone's in bed and the downstairs floor is squeaking, it's time to load the shotgun.
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On the flip side we have a lot of heated conversations about who is going to the bathroom at night and can't they use wings or something....
My dog (an aussie) can't make the corners after we wax the floor and usually ends up gliding out of control on her back. 45 lb goes into the wall at 15 mph.... One of these days I will get it on camera.
I have just received some samples of bamboo flooring from China. Bamboo grows so fast that I am not worried about environmental impact of my purchase. It looks quite decent and it is claimed to be harder than red oak. Does anybody have any experience with it?
--
EJ

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EJ wrote:

No, but it looks really attractive to me, too -- harder and more waterproof and durable than regular wood -- and I would dearly appreciate it if you could keep the NG posted on your decision so I can learn from it.
--
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. - Mother Teresa
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wrote:

My brother in law put in a bamboo floor two years ago. It's holding up well and looks great.
I'd like to know why it's the same price in my area as oak! <G> My Black and Decker Workmate has a bamboo top, which in older models was particle board. This hints that bamboo should be much cheaper.
Barry
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On 1 Apr 2004 10:36:38 -0800, tim snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Tim) wrote:

Someone, here I think, mentioned bamboo flooring. It seemed pretty silly at first, but I looked into it, and it might be an acceptable alternative to hardwood. Although red oak is harder, "plyboo" is more than twice as stable--whatever that really means. http://www.plyboo.com/floor.html
Michael A day without recoil is like a day without sunshine!
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