Just Say No to Knotty Pine
Posted on September 26th, 2012
Knotty pine flooring is a popular choice to compliment rustic or beachy decor. When they’re first installed, knotty pine floors look a lot like the picture above. Nice, no?
Greg and I are renting a place in Vermont while we’re searching for a house to buy. The house was originally built as a ski lodge/summer home in 2008. Our landlord and his family used the house twice a year until this May, when we moved in.
When we moved in, one of the first things we noticed is the awful state the floors were in. Here’s a medley of examples:
Now mind you, these pictures were taken after 4 years of only very occasional use, and with no kids or pets to abuse the floor. Can you imagine what they’d look like if the house had been used full-time by a family with kids and/or pets?
The flooring consultants I’ve talked to told me that the problem is that pine is actually a softwood, not a hardwood. That means that pine floors are much more delicate than the oak or ash or maple floors people are used to, so they’re not a great choice for most people. (Also, if you go for the nailed-down look, just know that all kinds of gunk gets stuck in those nail holes. It’s impossible to clean them properly!)
Before we moved here, I was a wood-floor bigot. Solid wood was the only material I’d consider, as I’d had bad experiences with other kinds of floors. In a way I was right, as the cheap and cheerful bamboo floors in our Brooklyn apartment and the 1980s Pergo floors in my aunt’s house were nothing to be desired. The bamboo floors shredded in the area underneath our desk chairs, and the ancient-style Pergo was obviously fakey.
Having lived with knotty pine floors for 6 months now, though, I’m not as much of a wood-floor bigot as I was. Greg and I might have found the perfect house, and it has horrible linoleum and ceramic tile. I’m actually (shock! horror!) considering replacing the floors in that house, if we get it, with high-quality laminate. Why? Because when we scratch-and-dent tested the samples of various hardwoods, engineered woods, and laminates we got from Home Depot, the laminates were the clear winner in terms of durability.
(I never thought I’d say that. There must be a Hardwood Anonymous somewhere. If there is, sign me up.)
If you love the look of knotty pine but have children or pets to contend with, maybe you should consider high-end knotty pine laminate or engineered knotty pine floors instead. Both look just like the real thing (at least online), and are much cheaper and more scratch-resistant.
Thus ends my screed on knotty pine. Other species of wood might be perfectly wonderful as floors, but pine does not good flooring make!