This is how I felt after reading the article on Bob Vila's website about all the reasons wood floors are a bad idea.

Before I get into my rebuttal of the ridiculous article on Bob Vila’s website, “12 Reasons Hardwood Floors Might Not Be Right for Your Home,” let me back up and explain something. When I first became involved in wood floors, I have never really thought about wood floors. The whole awareness was a non-issue to me, so discovering there are wood floors under carpet, or that Napoleon had wood floors, or that you had to wax a wood floor or anything imaginable just wasn’t part of my experience. As I’ve stated before, I became involved in wood flooring to get through college, and even as I began working with the trade, I held no real value to it. My involvement was merely a stepping stone. I figured once I had my degree, I’d move on to the next big step and be an astronaut or brain surgeon—something “normal” like that.

Then I became “lit” when I found an article from JAMA, a peer-reviewed medical journal published 48 times a year by the American Medical Association. I’m fairly sure this was the article I found all those years ago, or at the least it was very similar: “Parent-Reported Environmental Exposures and Environmental Control Measures for Children With Asthma.” It was here I became aware of how important hard surfaces and in particular, wood flooring, are in homes.

I became fascinated, and I think my interest in my trade accelerated to where I started going to conventions, taking classes sponsored by the NWFA, and reading all the more.

I even remember responding to a request for an estimate for an elderly couple with a two-level home. They had carpet on their stairs and wanted it removed and a wood floor installed. I asked why and they said they felt safer in their old age having the carpet removed. The job was done, and I soon found out they were not alone in their suspicions—it was true! I even found this article by the National Institute of Health: “Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets.”

So, let’s speed this up to where I saw an article from Bob Vila’s website that Kim posted [Note from the Editor: To be clear, I was groaning while I posted it!] on the WFB Facebook page. It was painful to read, but I read the whole article and his opinions were just that … opinions. Being the self-made “brand” he has made himself out to be, most likely he threw wood flooring under the bus to please one of his sponsors.

Well, I don’t have opinions, I have facts, and I’m going to respond to each and every one of his indictments.

Again, I’m speaking about this article: “12 Reasons Hardwood Floors Might Not Be Right for Your Home.” Since Bob felt it necessary to come up with so many reasons, I’m going to break this post up into two posts and deal with half of them at a time.

Reason #1:They’re Not in Your Budget

Tell that to Lumber Liquidators and their $0.59/sq.ft. wood floor specials. Sure, they are not worth the box they are put in, but I tell my customers they can be the proper choice for a few reasons:

  • You are a house flipper.
  • You want to install the floor and then list and sell your home immediately.
  • Your budget is tight, and you cannot have carpet or do not want carpet.

As far as I can tell, every single wood flooring manufacturer wants EVERYONE to have wood floors, and many manufacturers have a variety to suit every customer and every budget. I’ll even acknowledge the DIY flooring market and the advent of the click-lock tongue-and-groove adaptation. DIYers love to try wood flooring on their own if they are able, and they certainly do purchase a fair share of the market all on their own.

Our score:

Wood Flooring 1, Bob 0

Reason #2: You Have Pets

This is nonsense, and I wonder if dear old Bob has any pets. Every reader knows full well that sometimes we have to do estimates at a pet home, and the home smells like fermented urine so strong we have to breathe through our mouths as we do a measure and sell the client.

That odor is mostly all in the carpet. Once we get the job we purposely roll the carpet backwards so the underneath is on the outside so we can avoid touching the walked-on (peed-on) part. Sometimes even the tack strips get rusty from all the urine they were exposed to.

The foam padding absorbs the “stuff” and, with hardly any airflow, takes a long time to dry. On a hard surface it dries in minutes, and yes … it’s a bummer, but the liquid state of the “stuff” does not have the advanced working time like it does under carpet. Urea and carpeting are like boyfriend and girlfriend—they like each other!—and readily combine chemically to produce a chemical tattoo in the flooring.

The next thing regarding pets: dog claws.

In this day and age, it is 100% obvious that some people simply do not have the capacity to have and/or own nice things. Give them a Mercedes, and they will not keep it clean, change the oil, rotate the tires, etc., and this is why you can find cheap late-model cars next to pristine cars of the same model for a much, much lower price. It’s the same for every other material possession, including wood floors.

I cannot count how many times I have been asked to provide a “good polyurethane” for dogs, or a “hard species” of wood for dogs, when the fact is there isn’t any. What there is, however, is the great assortment of dog shoes on Amazon, eBay or Google. Dog lovers live in every type of home, and super-fine homes are no exception. I have seen dog shoes rise to the status of being foofoo in fashionable homes, and I applaud it. If you want nice things, take care of your things. You just don’t give up because a salesman says so or Bob Vila says so.

Who is Bob Vila, anyway???

Score: Wood Flooring 2, Bob 0

Reason #3: You Have Kids

This goes back to a citation I already linked to: “Parent-Reported Environmental Exposures and Environmental Control Measures for Children With Asthma.”

I’ve told expecting mothers or mothers with small children to remove the carpet even if they could not afford to have the wood floors refinished. The health benefits would be realized now—even if they had a wood floor that needed to be refinished or a bare concrete slab. They can add the aesthetic benefits later when their budget makes room to fit their desires.

Further to the point, I had a phone call from a lady whose floors I had refinished six months earlier. She called me just to thank me. I’ll never forget her. It was September when I did the work, and she called me in March to say that NONE of her five kids had a single cold since I ripped the carpets out. This isn’t something I can cite via JAMA or something, but it really happened. Since then I have heard other parents speak of a similar result.

Score: Wood flooring 3, Bob 0

Reason #4: You Don’t Want the Maintenance

Bob says, “Hardwood floors are not low-maintenance by any stretch of the imagination.”

???

All you need is dust mop. Most new prefinished floors have UV-cured aluminum oxide finishes, or site-finished floors are coated with either water-base or oil-base or conversion varnish finishes. As you all know, these finishes are very tough. I can see the higher maintenance with waxed floors, or the newer hardwax oil floors, but nothing like carpet. Ever notice the bath mat in your bathroom? Ever change that thing and throw it in the washer? I bet you do, and consider that you can’t do that with an area rug or wall-to-wall carpeting. The dirt carpet holds is amazing, but on a wood floor a quick dusting with a mop is all you need for your toddler to cruise the floor with no trouble, completely safe from harm.

Score: Wood flooring 4, Bob 0

Reason #5: You Need Some Soundproofing

???

Every home I’ve been inside of has room furnishings in it, and couches, chairs, area rugs, etc., absorb sound waves quite nicely. When the room is empty, as in after an install or refinish, I hear the echo like everyone else, but it’s GONE once the room contents get populated. It doesn’t take much to quiet a room with just a few furnishings. And if you want actual soundproofing, like in a condo building with multiple floors, there are endless options for dampening the sound to acceptable levels [see the recent WFB article “Wood Flooring Underlayment 101—and Why You Must Care”].

Score: Wood flooring 5, Bob 0

Reason #6: Your Joints Can’t Take the Stress

Wow … this was EASY.

What kind of joints we talking about, Bob?

Hardwood floors are primarily a “hard surface,” and I think that is the thing you have a problem with, not that it’s specifically wood. If there is a problem at all, our “joints” have the same problem with hardwood as with any other hard surface, like terrazzo, for instance.

Yet terrazzo, being a hard surface, is specifically chosen for health care facilities and schools WORLDWIDE. If it’s not terrazzo, it’s some other hard surface, so your claim is ridiculous.

Here is an example: Terrazzo Flooring in Healthcare: Part of a Hospital’s Plan for Patient Healing.

Doh! And here’s another: ADA-Compliant Flooring and Walkways.

This is over.

Score: Wood flooring 6, Bob 0 (still)

We’ll continue with my take-down of Bob Vila’s anti-wood-floor diatribe in my next post.


Angelo DeSanto is owner at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Dande West.