Over the summer, we spent two weeks telling you about our installation of more than 1000 square feet of Brazilian Walnut flooring in the first floor of our colonial home. We compiled the entire experience into a series of more than a dozen tutorials for installing hardwood floors that cover all the details of a typical wood floor installation. The series was a resounding success, and one of the most extensive we’ve ever produced here at One Project Closer. Below is just one of the “after” pictures from the installation. Click here for all the Brazilian Walnut flooring pictures.
Throughout the series, I omitted a discussion of the actual hardwood product we selected or the store where we purchased it (although you can see the branding in some of the pictures of the boxes). I did this primarily because I wanted the articles to stand on their own without becoming a two-week-long endorsement of a particular vendor’s product line. But I would be remiss if I didn’t at least write one article on our experience with the vendor where we purchased the product and the specific brand of hardwood we selected.
As I’m sure you guessed from the title of the article, that vendor was Lumber Liquidators, one of the largest discount hardwood flooring retailers in the U.S., with headquarters based in our neighboring state of Virginia. The product is LL’s flagship brand: Bellawood, and more specifically, 3/4-inch thick by 3-1/4-inch wide tongue-and-groove, solid Brazilian Walnut.
We sunk more than $6,000 into the flooring we installed, and without a doubt, we’re very pleased with the installation. You can see detailed pictures of the final product here.
Our overall experience with Lumber Liquidators was very positive, but not perfect. Read on for our objective review of our purchase experience with this vendor.
Lumber Liquidators Review
The Highs: Beautiful, quality Bellawood product; excellent price; free delivery to the local store; wide variety of hardwoods to choose from; reasonably knowledgeable in-store staff.
The Lows: Product stock status not always up-to-date on web site; Product stock status not always fully known by phone-based customer service.
The Verdict: A product and price point that are second to none. We’ll be back for our next hardwood purchase.
Before getting into our personal experience with Lumber Liquidators, I feel compelled to point out the obvious: this review represents a single, large purchase of a single product with this vendor. As with any vendor, the range of experiences could be very large depending on the specific people you encounter on the days you place and take receipt of your order or make customer service requests.
As with any review, this article will better serve others if you add your own experiences with this vendor in the comments section at the bottom. I hope you will!
Bellawood Product Review: This isn’t the first time we’ve installed Lumber Liquidator’s Bellawood Brazilian Walnut product, so we knew what to expect. We have found that the aluminum oxide sealer on Bellawood is excellent (LL offers a 50 year limited warranty). It is not prone to fading or hazing like many polyurethane-based sealers and it resists normal wear very well. Note, though, that Bellawood doesn’t have some kind of “miracle” sealer that will prevent gouging. If you drag the claw side of a hammer across the floor, it will indeed scratch, and quite noticeably. There is no sealer that will prevent that type of abuse from marking a real hardwood floor–it’s why laminate flooring options have become more popular in recent years.
The Brazilian Walnut hardwood boards were extremely uniform and consistent. We had less than 3% scrap out of the box (Brazilian Walnut is a very consistent wood to begin with – other species will have higher waste factors – check the product pages for the individual species for details).
It is important to realize that Lumber Liquidators does offer more than just Bellawood, and that some of their brands don’t enjoy as positive of a reputation. However, I feel confident in recommending the Bellawood product after installing it in three homes.
Price Review: When we set out to find hardwoods for our house, I combed the web for other hardwood vendors that offered the key features I wanted in this installation: 3/4″ solid tongue-and-groove hardwoods, a thick aluminum oxide-based finish, 3-1/4 inch width planks, good photos of the installed product, etc. What I found, without exception, is that Lumber Liquidator’s Bellawood product came in about $1.00 – $1.25 / square foot less than the competition for the higher-end exotics in “select” qualities. We ended up paying $6.49/sq. ft. for the Brazilian Walnut. The next best among the competition wanted $7.50/sq. ft. for an almost identical product.
Shipping: We requested the product be shipped to our local store (a free option) and we picked it up using a 1/2 ton pick-up truck (it took 5 truck loads due to weight limits). The staff at the local LL had the boxes waiting for us at the door after we called 1/2 hour early letting them know we would be buy to pick them up.
Customer Service Review: While our overall experience with Lumber Liquidators was pretty good, we ran into one significant challenge: phone-based customer service did not have a good grasp on future product ship dates.
When we first got into the market for exotic hardwoods, we were planning to install Brazilian Chestnut floors. We actually placed an order for Brazilian Chestnut on LumberLiquidators.com in late May and were told that while the product was out of stock, there was a batch at the factory that would be able to fill our order within 2 weeks. A week later, I had a gut feeling that I should re-confirm that the batch at the factory would indeed be available to fill our order, since we were lining up time off work and sequencing contractors for the effort. When I called back, I was told that the first customer service rep had made an error and that our floors wouldn’t be available for at least 6 weeks, and possibly not until even later.
At this point, we decided to switch to Brazilian Walnut (for which Lumber Liquidators had more than 6,000 square feet in stock at the time). The price was comparable, the look was similar, and they were able to ship it virtually immediately. Ultimately, we received our floors in time to meet our build schedule. Of course, had I not made that call, we could have ended up in a very bad situation where we didn’t have the flooring in time to get the first floor remodel completed. The customer service representative was very apologetic and said that this is not normally an issue for the company; someone may have read an inventory/order report incorrectly.
The remainder of our customer service and sales experience was great. The support staff in the local store were very helpful, and everyone (even the customer service rep mentioned above) was always polite and courteous, never calling into question whether what I was telling them was, in fact, the truth.
We’ve been living with our newly-installed floors for 4 months now. We’re very pleased with the product and frequently recommend Lumber Liquidators to friends and colleagues. As I noted before, we’ve installed other Bellawood products in 2 other homes with great success. Those installations are now more than three years old each and both still look fantastic.
Where to Buy
Lumber Liquidators has put considerable effort into making ordering through their web site pretty simple and painless, even for large quantities. There are also stores in many parts of the nation that you can visit. Lumber Liquidators will ship their product to any of their national outlets for free, or you can get the product delivered right to your house for an additional freight fee.