Help me determine the quality of a hardwood plank (Armstrong/Bruce)

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Old 07-20-11, 01:20 PM
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Help me determine the quality of a hardwood plank (Armstrong/Bruce)

I recently decided to replace my carpet with hardwood flooring and have narrowed down my floor options to two choices: the VF131CA and the ABC401. Both are Armstrong/Bruce pre-finished solid 3/4" oak planks. The main appeal of both is that they are available: the ABC401 is advertised almost weekly on Lowes, and probably won't go away any time soon. The VF131CA has been offered by a contractor.

The VF131CA is somewhat more appealing to me - partly because I prefer its lighter, "canyon" color, but mostly because it's cheaper ($3.50 vs $4.00). The contractor assures me that it is a good product, and says the price offered is a steep discount. I am taking his claims with a grain of salt.

My problem is that I have no way of determining the product's quality. Unlike the popular ABC401, it isn't listed on Armstrong's website. As you may know, Armstrong self-grades its products as "Best," "Better," or "Good" (which I cynically assume can be translated as good, ok, and not-very-good, respectively). While the self-grading may be less than perfectly reliable, I have no other indicator of quality unless somebody here has first-hand experience. Armstrong rates the ABC123 as "Better." The VF131CA isn't listed, but others from the same Yorkshire Plank line are rated as merely "Good." I don't know whether I can assume the VF131CA is of comparable quality.

I have seen samples of both planks. They seem fine. But I'm conscious of the fact that a sample never has any knots and that you can't tell the degree of color variation until you see a number of planks lying side-by-side.

I'm afraid this post has gone on a bit. If you've actually read the whole thing, I apologize and thank you.

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Relevant links:

Armstrong ABC401 page: link
Armstrong Yorkshire Plank (the VF131CA is similar to the canyon color here, but the model number is different): link
Some info about the VF131CA: link
 
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Old 07-21-11, 03:39 AM
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Gonna be difficult for us to give you rock hard advice on hardwood flooring "quality". It all will probably lay down well, and last well. What you are looking for is wood with few boogers and an assortment of lengths per case. Cheaper "cabin grade" flooring will have more knots and shorter pieces per case. A real PITA when you are trying to keep your seams apart.
Look at the dye lot number on the flooring and make sure you get all your order, plus waste and keep back, of the same number. That will help keep the hues together. I work from three boxes at a time to spread the color variations, if any, out a little.
 
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Old 07-21-11, 12:33 PM
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Thank you for your advice, chandler. Whichever floor I end up buying, I'll make sure to get floors of the same dye lot number. If I install the floor myself, I'll follow the three box tip as well.

One more question - if the species of a floor is described as "oak," is it likely to be a mixture of red and white oak? And if so, is that bad? While I can't say for sure, this appears to be the same floor as the VF131CA Yorkshire plank I mentioned (the one rated by Armstrong as "good"), except with low gloss instead of high gloss. The other floors are described as red oak or white oak, not simply "oak."
 
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Old 07-21-11, 01:26 PM
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The Oak Canyon is white oak with a low luster finish. Red oak will tend to be darker overall than the white oak, and they most likely won't be mixed. It would look like a checkerboard.
 
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