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Spring Real Estate and Home Guide Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 03, 2008

Fine flooring makes an appealing underpinning for home sales

By Paige Spawn Pierle

Homeowners should pay attention to floors when selling their homes.

“I think it’s important to buyers,” said Janna Shillinglaw, associate broker of Team Schillinglaw at Keller Williams Capital District. “It’ll give them more reason to pay a selling price, if they don’t have to replace or repair the floors.”

People like to see tiles in bathrooms and entryways, she said. Buyers prefer one style of carpet in all the rooms and hallways upstairs in a house as opposed to different types of carpets in each room, she said. 

“They [sellers] should consult with a Realtor as far as how the conditions of their floor could impact their sales,” she said. “They should get an idea of what the cost might be to replace it or to enhance the way the floors look.” Homeowners with ceramic tiles should clean out the grouts. Carpets should be steamed clean. A loose piece of slate gives the impression the house has not been maintained. 

Yet even with the flooring cleaned and well-presented, most buyers are looking for a particular type of flooring: hardwood.

“If I show a house and there’s carpet, people ask if there’s hardwood under the carpet,” said Shillinglaw. “People want to know if there is potential for hardwood.”

Buyers like to see hardwood floors in dining rooms. “People don’t want carpet in their dining rooms—ever,” said Shillinglaw. She reasons this is because people like their dining rooms to look more formal and different than the living room and living spaces of the house. Also, with hardwood, people do not need to worry about carpet being stained if children drop food from the table.

Bud Delaney, owner and operator of Mr. Sandman in Guilderland, agrees with the trend towards hardwood floors. “In the mid ’50s, people put rugs down and covered wood floors constantly,” he said. “It was not the trend to have wood floors. Now the country is in a wood mode — we like the wood.” 

Delaney advises people to go to a showroom or lumberyard to see what types of wood they would like for their homes. “Go out and look,” he said. “You might find some type of wood you are really drawn to.”

Different types of wood have various levels of durability and wide ranges of natural colors—colors that can change with different stain applications.

“It’s overwhelming, actually,” said Vincent Scanu, owner and operator of Professional Wood Floors in Guilderland. While most people purchase red oak for their floors, exotic woods are becoming more popular. These types of wood are more durable, with Brazilian walnut as the hardest and heaviest, said Scanu. In his 16 years of laying floors, he only installed that type of wood once.

Not only are exotic woods more durable than traditional wood floors but they come in vibrant colors such as deep maroon, purple, and yellow. Scanu described a floor called “purple heart,” which, he said, “is really purple.” This is usually installed as borders and inlays instead of being the entire floor for one room. “Exotic woods are light in the middle and darken naturally more than the regular oaks and maples and ash,” said Scanu.

This color gradient gives the wood more dimension, he said. “They have different grain patterns, and some may have black streaks in it. It’s really cool.”

A year ago, Scanu placed amendoim, a reddish-brown wood from Brazil, on the first floor of a home. “Their guests would say, ‘Your floors are beautiful—what is that?’” said Scanu. A few weeks ago, he installed amendoim on the second level of this house.

Hardwood floors require little maintenance, said Scanu. They can be cleaned regularly with a mild cleanser and water. 

Scanu advises people to never wax their floors, which was common in the 1960s and 1970s. If a floor is waxed, the only way to maintain it is to re-wax it, which involves stripping and sanding. 

And as for scratches?

“We call it character,” he said.

Owners can place felt pads on the bottom of their furniture to prevent scratching. Dents and scratches are more visible on shinier floors than floors with a low gloss finish, he said. 

Floors could be dented without getting scratched. “Refrigerators are known for that,” he said. The only way to remove dents is to sand the floor. 

Under normal conditions, hardwood should be resurfaced every five years and refinished every 12 to 15 years, said Delaney. Resurfacing smoothes the top layer of polyurethane, removing minor scratches. This process takes about four hours.  However, refinishing, which removes then reapplies all three coats of polyurethane, could take three days for a 500-600 square foot floor.

“The more traffic that goes over the floor,” he said, “the more quickly you’re going to wear it out, the more often you’ll need to get resurfacing and refinishing.”

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