Lumber Liquidators.....Opinions Please

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Anybody ever buy anything from Lumber Liquidators (LL)? I'm thinking about putting a butcher block countertop in the kitchen and LL has one for sale that's $184 for an 8' x 25" x 1.5" maple top.
I'm going to have to travel a fair distance to fetch the thing and wondered if anyone has either purchased one of these tops or has any experience with their quality.
Hate to make that kind of trip for a piece of junk.
Thanks for any info.
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A friend of mine redid his living room floor with flooring he bought from LL. Looks very nice. If his floor is representative of the typical quality of their products, I don't think you have anything to worry about.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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bremen68 wrote:

I don't know about LL's butcher blocks, my only experience is with flooring.
The Hartford, CT, store is actually more expensive than other local providers, if you truly compare apples to apples. They also don't answer the phone, ever. The phone is answered by a machine that provides directions to the store only. If you'd like to ask a question, you have to drive to the store and ask in person.
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I bought wood flooring from their Tampa Bay area store. Called ahead, they had what I wanted, went there and looked over my choices (it's 120 mi each way), took their advice and took home what I needed. That store was knowledgable and helpful and the salesman took an interest in my non-standard plans for flooring (frame around a hot tub, interior window framing for a "moongate" window.
I'd go back for other stuff if I needed it, which is probably the best measure. They've got a better selection than I can find locally in this rural location.
Regards --
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Let me preface this by saying that there may be a lot of difference among the various LL stores. The one I went to was in Orlando. Maybe the other ones are different.
As far as I can tell there is one (and only one) good thing about LL - they're cheap. Any kind of transaction takes several hours at the least. As far as I could tell, there were three people working at the store in Orlando. They took care of everything from unloading and loading to ansering phones to playing cashier to delivering the product. With a dozen people or so in there at all times, the phone ringing constantly, and no one even remotely in any kind of hurry, it's a VERY long process just getting a question answered. They don't appear to have any kind of inventory system, and they don't seem to have any idea what they'll be getting in the future or how to get more of a particular type of flooring.
This is what happened to me: My wife and I went to the store and waited around for two hours or so to get a chance to ask somebody some questions. I was curious about their 99-cent unfinished oak. Once we finally got a chance to talk, the manager was very nice. He brought us in the back to the warehouse, gave us some bottled water, sat down and talked for a good half hour (about the weather, where we were from, politics, etc.). Meanwhile, lots of people were still waiting out in the showroom. We didn't like the 99-cent oak at all, but he ended up showing us some beautiful prefinished oak for 1.99/ft. He gave us a couple samples and we were on our way. Mind you, this was not their standard 1.99 prefinished oak with all the knot-holes and cracks and splits. This was really nice stuff.
Well, we ended up buying 800 sqare feet of the stuff, and the next day my wife drove the 2 hours, horse trailer in tow, to the store to pick it up. It took her almost three hours to actually pay for the wood and get it loaded, and then she was on her way.
When I got home from work, we opened up a few boxes and the wood was the same beautiful stuff we had looked at in the warehouse. But when we opened a few more boxes, the contents were totally different - their normal el cheapo oak. The two types were not even close to each other. They were different widths, different colors, and the good stuff had a beveled edge - the crappy stuff didn't. I was furious to say the least.
The next day, we called the store and after a day's worth of messages and waiting finally got a return call from the manager the next day. He apologized and said we could come swap out the bad wood since it was his fault for giving us the wrong stuff, but that under normal circumstances all sales are final on the $1.99 prefinished oak.
My wife was unable to make the trip the second time, so I had to take time off work to take the boxes of bad wood back. Half a day later, I was finally speaking to the manager. We went in the back to get the replacement boxes of wood, and as it turns out, he didn't have any more (hence they switched over to the other stuff). At this point I was absolutely livid, because I had only brought back the boxes of bad wood - the good stuff was still sitting in boxes in my living room. Of course when we had called him earlier he had assured us that there was plenty more of the good wood. Well, he made some phone calls and it turned out that he couldn't get any more of the good stuff. That left me about 200 feet short of being able to do what I needed to do, so we (the manager and I) decided to just cancel the whole thing. I headed back to work for the last three hours of the day and then went home. I reloaded a couple thousand pounds of wood back into the horse trailer and headed back the next day.
When I arrived and waited the customary two hours, the manager got ready to refund my money, but had to get "corporate approval" for the refund because it was more than $500. Of course, it took him about 45 minutes to get through to the right guy in Virginia or whereever, at which point the guy informed him that LL would not refund my money. All sales on the 1.99 oak are final - period. My wife should have inspected it before it was loaded into trailer. The local store manager tried to argue for me a little, but it was hopeless.
In hindsight, it's probably good that the guy was several states away, as I would probably be in prison now if he had been there in person. I have to say, I think the local manager genuinely felt bad, but this was his fault in the first place. After much arguing, threatening, and another phone call to the wonderful people at LL headquarters, he agreed that I could trade in the wood for store credit. You can imagine how happy I was to now be locked into having to get my wood floors from this excellent store.
In the end, we found some bamboo flooring that actually looked half decent, and the manager gave it to us for cost, which was $2.40 per square foot (I think the price as marked was $3.25). He also offered to deliver it for free, but I wasn't going to let him or anyone else from his company get anywhere near my house or my wife (she probably would have killed or seriously maimed whoever showed up). Of course, it took another trip to bring home the bamboo samples and then go back to pick up the flooring.
I made them open every single last box of the bamboo flooring, cut open the plastic wrap, lift up the foam padding, and show me the color and quality. I refused several boxes (luckily they had plenty of others in stock).
When all was said and done, the floor looked beautiful and was pretty inexpensive for what we got. But if I had to do it again, I would NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER go to Lumber Liquidators.
Josh
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bremen68 wrote:

decent price. Went there with my Ford pu. They loaded me up and I was on my way in a short time. Good folks - at least at the LA store.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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bremen68 wrote:

I characterize them as the Harbor Freight of flooring..."you'se pays your money and you'se takes your chances"--and if you expect such a thing as service after the sale, you're in the wrong place. I'd not buy anything w/o inspecting every piece/box individually and ensuring there's sufficient stock in hand to take full delivery at once as there's no guarantee at all about further matching stock.
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No experience with this specifc provider. Things to consider are:
1. There is a difference in quality of Maple tops made for workbench type applications, commercial kitchens or residential kitchens. The main difference is a residential kitchen top of the highest quality would (in this case) be laminated from many 96" pieces where a lower quality slab might have finger jointed or even butt jointed pieces included. Finally a workbench quality slab might have minimal voids as well.
2. Is it raw wood or does it have a film finish. For a bakers table or cutting food you will want raw wood with a mineral oil finish. Many of the slabs available are coated with some knarly acrylic finish.
For comparison: - The item you mentioned is coming in at $7.36 bf - Grizzly has coated workbench quality tops for around $6.75 bf http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G9916 or search on "Workbench" on the Grizzly site. - John Boos, the premier wood block products maker in the US has highend, raw wood Maple tops for about $18 bf http://www.johnboos.com/specsheets.htm
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I posted a lengthy reply to your message, but for some reason it seems to have disappeared into cyberspace. Anyway, the long and short of it was STAY AWAY! I had a terrible experience with LL and would be happy to see them go out of business.
Their product was fine, but their service was downright criminal. They sold me $2000 worth of flooring and substituted about 1/3 of it with a totally different product - only the species was the same. I don't mean just lot-to-lot variations - this was literally a totally different product. Different width (3" vs. 2.25"), different color, different finish (matte vs. gloss), and different edge (beveled vs straight). I'll skip over the details about how infuriatingly long it took for this whole transaction to take place, but in the end, after two weekends shot and three days of worked missed while dealing with these idiots, LL headquarters refused to allow the local store to take the product back and refund my money even though the local store manager admitted to having run out of one product and substituted with another. They said that my wife should have inspected every single box when it was loaded. After much threatening and almost coming to blows I was able to trade the wood back in toward something that was more expensive. You can imagine how happy I was.
Like I said, in the end the product was great, but no company that treats customers like that should expect return business.
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Josh wrote:

No, it showed up here--your feed will update eventually, probably.
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I thought Bob Vila recommended them?????!!!????

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skcrab wrote:

So does Rush... :)
$$$$....
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On Wed, 22 Jun 2005 16:54:29 -0500, Duane Bozarth

Both are reason enough not to buy there.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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Well then, there you go! LOL
Make more sawdust,
Woodworkerdan

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Bremen - I've got the exact response you may be looking for. I bought the same butcher block countertop you are looking at - 8' long. Here's what I can say: The counter is inexpensive, but it is made up of many short pieces glued together. Some are nearly white, others are very grainy and figured. The counter comes unfinished. When you add something like poly to it, the different colors and pieces stand out much more, like a patchwork quilt. I also found that one piece in the center/back of the piece broke loose...I'm talking more of a chip or sliver maybe 1/4" long lifted up and broke off.
On the other hand, I also purchased $4000 worth of hard maple counter tops for the rest of my store from a company in Ohio. Each counter is made from veneers that are the full length of the counter. I've even got a 14' counter made from 14' long veneers. Most places won't go over 12' long. Also, the wood is well matched colorwise so it looks consistent. I actually like a little bit of color variation, so I told them not to worry about that so much when they were manufacturing the counters.
Bottom line is the nicer counters were about triple the cost of the LL ones, but they look it, too. For my application, knowing what I know now, I'd buy the LL counter again because the $400 savings was more important to me than having a perfect counter in that particular spot. However, the LL counter would not be acceptable quality for the rest of the counters at any cost. I wouldn't use them if it were for my home kitchen counter.
Hope this helps. I do have some pics of the counters, but don't have them set up for posting as of yet.
regards, dwhite
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Before you dive into life at Lumber Liquidators, consider looking at Ikea countertops. They have an 8 ft (birch or beech) one for about $80-90. Here in LA they don't have them in stock, you have to order and wait 10 days, but I asked for opinions on the Do it Yourself web site and two persons who had them were very happy with them. I'm sure for that price they won't be the highest quality, but they don't look bad in photos. They apparently are raw wood so you can coat them with mineral oil.
My telephone calls to the LA Lumber Liquidators store left me very wary of having any dealings with them.
Good luck, John

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I bought one of the IKEA wood countertops for less than $100 for a work surface in my shop. I got the 25" x 96" x 1 1/8" thick version. I decided not to pay almost double for the thicker one.
The quality is reasonable, but I'm not sure if I would put it in a kitchen or not. It comes with a single coat of oil. You will need to pujt on more oil for a good finish.
If I was doing a workbench top, I would get the thicker one.
Brian Elfert
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I found that lumber liquidators are not as good as they claim- Here is what I found in the NJ location-
1- Most of the real rood items are available in 2weeks. Thats wonderful, I can order wood from any shop and be assured of what I am getting. 2- Prices, not so hot 3- Service - NON-EXISTANT. I puchased 180 sq ft. In one hour I returned to the front desk for a refund. I was still waiting for the product at the dock. JOKE !!! This place sucks.
Brian Elfert wrote:

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loops wrote:

Just like Hartford.
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Seems like the over whelming majority is avoid these folks. Thanks all for the input, it's greatly appreciated.
I think I'll be furhter ahead to just make it myself.....Oh wait, isn't that usually the case?
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