I have been quite anxious to try out the new Melrose prefinished strip floor and low and behold a job meant for it appeared right before my eyes. One of my early spring parquet installations had canceled, because the tenants in the apartment couldn't see themselves going through the messy process of an unfinished floor installation, in their bedrooms. They would have to move out for a few days while I sanded their floors.
The coordinator for this particular co-op asked me if there was a prefinished floor I could use instead. A light went on in my head and I said I was dying to try out this new material. I suggested she call up the Hardwood Floor Center and see if they had some narrow 2 1/4" by 3/4" strip with that marvelous finish on it " gator " something. She made the call and confirmed the order and I picked it up a few days later.
I was so happy to have the job back even though it meant I was only paid to do the installation. I usually let the customer buy the material so that the warranty goes directly to the end user, especially when it is a 25 year guarantee like this one. I don't honestly think I'll be in the floor business by then, I'll be 70 something. I started installing the floor after 5 days of acclimatizing the wood. When I opened the first boxes I was pleased to see good overall length's and superbly milled material. And as I "racked out the rows I thought this is going to be an easy job.
Then the problems began, I would nail in a few rows and find a long board just wouldn't snug up tight no matter how hard I hammered it in place. I would finally have to pry it into place with my long screwdriver and in no time I was facing the same problem with another board. I managed to secure all the main part of the floor by slamming the boards together with all my strength on my power nailer. But the real problem was when I had to hand nail the last few rows. Normally I would choose some long straight boards and with most prefinished brands you could practically push them into place by hand. Well not Melrose, in any group of boards in the rack all it took was one tight board to hold the whole group of them up.
I was ever hopeful that the problems might sort itself out and the rest of the boxes might be better, but as I was installing down hallways the problem got worse. It seemed like at least 10% of the wood had tongues on them that simply would not fit. And you could never tell by looking at them, you would just confront a stubborn board at random, and this made nailing the last 4 rows torture. After a few days of this my back was aching from the excessively hard blows I was delivering to my power nailer, the floor looked great but I was in terrible shape. If I had bought the floor myself I would have returned the whole lot. I finished 2 days late and had severe back spasms by then.
The floor on the other hand looked great, the finish was as tough as nails. I was a little careless toward the end of the job, moving things across the floor and did not put one scratch in the wood. Frankly the way I was treating the floor would have really marred any other finish, this stuff was amazing. A floor mechanic's dream but also a nightmare to install.
I went back to the Hardwood Floor Center and voiced my concerns. To my surprise they were quite sympathetic and I found out later that they were having a problem with one of their employees. A disgruntled salesman had sold me boxes of the Melrose strip floor that was to be returned to the factory and was never intended to be sold. Frank proved this by taking me into the warehouse and offering to open any box I chose.
We opened several boxes at random and laid the boards down on a table. Well, to my great relief they fit together easily by hand and boy did they fit well and tight.
I cannot now recommend the Melrose ® brand to anyone who wants a pre-finished floor. I just cannot be sure of the consistency of their products. But I still like the idea of the Titanium finish. I believe it is safer and more long lasting than the Aluminum Oxide finishes applied to most brands of hardwood floors. In fact I have written about this issue in the article: Prefinished Hardwood Floor Which ones to Choose?
And thankfully there is another more established and reliable source of this Titanium finish on the boards of Lauzon Ltd. You can peruse their website at http://www.lauzonltd.com. The Lauzon company has done the Taber abrasion tests on this polymerized titanium finish used on all their products, so now we have proof that this stuff is longer lasting and safer.