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.
Hello – I enjoyed following your project. Wanted to share something I encountered as a flooring contractor. My client has a prefinishd walnut floor that was original to the house. Due to a water leak I had to replace about 1,000 sf and was very surprised about the extreme fading..to the point I questioned whether I had the correct style and stain/ When I looke more closely and under the rug, it became clear the it was correct, but the sun was the culprit, particularily at the french doors….check out my blog as I posted some excellent photos…Thanks for reading…Diane
Diane, thanks for the additions. The sun is the enemy of hardwood flooring. In some species it lightens the boards, and it some it darkens them. Ethan wrote a good article summarizing how sunlight affects hardwoods here:
We have used Lumber Liquidators in the past as well and have had very good experiences with them. I would recommend them to anyone considering hardwood floors.
I haven’t checked out your project postings yet, but I wanted to say thank you so much for the review of Lumber Liquidators. We finally have one nearby and after your review will be checking them out soon.
My hubby installed solid 3/4″ by 2-1/4″ oak throughout most of our main level and upstairs hallway soon after we moved into our new home eight years ago. The bedrooms on the second level were carpeted so we’d have something better than the sub floor to walk on in bare feet which we’d like to replace with hardwoods.
Recently we’ve been thinking it’s time to start the process of replacing the carpet one room at a time. I can’t wait to tell my hubby about LL’s. Thanks so much Fred.
We are extrmely happy with the finish on the L.L. product we purchased (solid wood). However, something in the installation process went wrong. The problem is that their are two recommendation’s from L.L. for a underlayment for hard wood floor instalation, one is a slim felt roll to place under the wood before nailing, or a cheaper roofing tar paper both sold by L.L.We followed the process described in the article to a tee. What we have is slight movement up and down when walking on the floor their is a crushing sound with a creak as the floor gives a little it is pretty consistent through out the floor not like a squeaky floor joist. Here are my thought-
If no underlayment was used we would not have an air gap between the flooring and wood sub floor ?
The nails used to nail the grove side of the flooring to the sub floor should have been longer ?
Should have skipped the underlayment and nailed and glued the floor to the under layment ?
Open to any thought /or opinion anyone would like to share
The only question I would have is, was the sub-floor well secured to your floor joists?
We installed the thicker felt under the Hardwood but prior to installing I sank 2 1/2″ screws every 6 inches to secure our sub-flooring to our floor joists to make sure we did still have squeaky floors after the install was done. We also used 2″ hardwood flooring nails. ( they looked more like spikes to me).
Hope this helps,
I installed Bellawood Brazilian Walnut Hardwood floors from Lumber liquidators in our living room 5 years ago. I love the look. What I didn’t like was all the varying widths the boards had. We saw up to a 1/8″ difference in the 3 1/4″ width boards. We needed to buy more than the recommended 10% in order to get the floor to look like it should with nice tight seems. Also when using Brazilian Walnut hardwood prepare to pre-drill any face nailing needed. The wood is one of the hardest woods on the Janka scale 2680 second only to Curupay. Red Oak rates at 1290 for comparison. You can’t just grab a finish nail or screw and run it thru the wood.
I saw Bryan Baeumler from disaster DIY run into the same problem once on his show and they seemed surprised that they had this variance as well. Welcome to my world Bryan. I may have just got a bad batch but I expected better from Lumber Liquidators.