Our Utility Grade Hardwood Oak Floors {Facts and Pictures}


I shared on facebook two days ago that we were beginning to sand and stain the wood floors in our bedroom.

I cannot tell you how giddy I was that day!!!  This was a huge step that I had anxiously awaited for because I knew that it was one of the last steps before we can move into our bedroom. Did I mention I have been sleeping on the couch for two weeks?

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I wanted to tell you a little about the wood we chose for our floors.

We chose  3/4 inch by 4 inch wide Utility Grade /White Oak from Lumber Liquidators.  Mainly because of the price, but also because of the character of the wood.  It only costs $.99 a square foot because they are pieces of wood with flaws.

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Here are the negatives about utility grade flooring:

1.  There is a lot of waste.

As Cy was laying the floor, he had to throw out or cut down a lot of pieces of flooring because they are unusable.  We purchased 1,700 sq ft and are going to be able to use about 1,100 of it.

They will tell you at Lumber Liquidators when you purchase utility grade flooring to expect waste.

2.  It takes a lot longer to install.

It takes longer to install because you have to sort through a lot of pieces of wood to find the good pieces.  Unlike other wood flooring where you can just pick up a piece and quickly nail it down.  Also, with utility grade flooring, there are a lot of shorter pieces which makes the process take longer.


Here are the positives about utility grade flooring:

1.  Character

I LOVE the worn, not perfect, look of the utility grade flooring!  They have so much character and give our floors an “old house” feel and look.

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2.  Price

It’s only 99 cents a square foot.  Seriously, how can you beat that?


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Cy installed the wood flooring all by himself.  It was a ton of work.

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We did have a professional sander that Cy is friend’s with to come in and help sand the floor.  Cy has used a drum sander on our other floors, but since the utility grade is a rougher wood, he wanted to use belt sander on them.  The belt sander is a lot less forgiving and can eat into the wood in you are not careful with it.  So Cy wanted someone who had more experience with a belt sander to sand our floors.  Plus, this saved Cy some time, and we were able to get the floors sanded during the day while Cy was at work. Yay!

He also filled any large imperfections in the wood with wood filler before the final sanding.

Then Cy applied the stain by hand with a lint free cloth instead of with a lamb’s wool brush this time.  He has learned that you get a much better result if you apply the stain by hand.  The lamb’s wool brush tends to leave start and stop marks.

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It’s a lot harder to do it this way, but definitely worth it.

We applied only one coat of Dark Walnut stain from Minwax.

Last night, Cy applied a coat of fast drying Satin Polyurethane with a china/natural bristle brush.

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Again, in the past, Cy has always applied the poly with a lamb’s wool brush.  However, he has learned that to get a more professional look, poly is best applied with a bristle brush.

It’s not as easy, but the look is worth it!

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We also used a Satin poly instead of a Semi-gloss poly which looks perfect on this wood!

Cy got up at 3:30 am this morning to put the second coat of poly on the floors.  You are supposed to put the second coat on 6-8 hours after the first coat.

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Look at the beautiful morning sunlight on our floors!

Next, we are going to buff the floors, and then Cy will apply the third and final coat of poly on the floors.

And then we will be done!  Woohoo!

Cy has done an AMAZING and PROFESSIONAL job on these hard wood floors!

All that we have left to do in our bedroom is the trim work.  However, the bathroom is another story.  Smile  We still have to install the tub, toilet, and vanity, and we have to tile our shower.  We probably won’t be able to complete those projects until after Haven next week.

If you have any questions about our flooring, feel free to ask!

Have a blessed day!


  1. I love those beautiful floors, they look like they have been there forever and the imperfections are perfect!! I think things with imperfections are better than the perfect! Congratulations, your bedroom is going to be fabulous!

  2. Very beautiful job. I know how hard finishing floors can be. I tried to finish the floors in my pool house myself and while they don’t look bad, the finish is a little spotty. I want to redo them and do them right. Thanks for the tips on using brush rather than the wood pad. I did notice it skipped over the floor in some spots and that is why the poly is a little spotty. Go Cy!

  3. LOVE the floor! Even with the waste, I bet you saved $. Unless you count the Advil, heating pad, and chiropractor that Cy requires.

  4. They look gorgeous! Gorgeous I tell you!!! I so want to sand down and stain my ugly orangy oak a dark dark color but not sure it’s worth the effort. Looking at your floors might tip the balance…

  5. You and Cy are amazing! I enjoy all you post, especially about the remodeling of your home…and of course your precious children!

  6. Traci-that floor is truly amazing and what a blessing for you to have such a wonderful husband. I bet he loves hearing you brag on him(well deserved bragging of course)! I know my husband loves doing things for me and it’s obvious you guys work together very well. So inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Wowza!!! Amazing… Kudos to Cy! I think I would be jumping up and down with excitement at this point… giddy beyond control… :) It’s gorgeous!

  8. The floors look awesome!!! Cy has worked so hard (and you too). He must be worn out!! Can’t wait to see the bedroom and bath totally done….it will look amazing! You guys deserve a relaxing vacation after all of this!!

  9. They look sooo good. My husband and I are planning on laying hardwood on the main floor of our house in the fall. It has been great to see the process. Your husband had done a great job.

  10. What great timing!!! This is exactly what I have been looking for. I have been contemplating which hardwood floor would be best, because I love the imperfections also, but cost is major factor for us. Great job on your floor, anxious to see the final result!!

  11. Your new floor is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the Lumber Liquidator info. I can’t wait to see your bedroom and bath when it’s all completely finished. You must be so excited!

  12. OK. Here’s my question. Since it looks like you ended up with about 600 square feet of waste, do you think it would cost about the same to move up to the next grade of wood flooring from LL or do you believe you still saved money and it is worth the extra effort? I’m not necessarily bent on giving my floors an older look, but I am bent on saving the most $ possible. I’m all ears …

  13. your floors are gorgeous! and Cy now has another title to add to his name! good job! I just had white hardwood floors installed and they are beautiful! so know a little about taking care of them! they are so worth the care! and thanks for sharing your “hard” work! it certainly is paying off for you folks!
    Pink Hugs,

  14. The foor is amazing. You are so blessed to have a husband that is able to do about anything.. My husband likes to try to do things but he knows his limits. As we speak he is tearing up the kitchen floor. We had broken tile and needed to come up before someone got hurt but now we don’t knowz what to do with the floor. It has a lot of grout and a big mess. Any suggestions?
    Did I say I love, love your floor?

  15. It looks beautiful. You are so blessed to have Cy. I wish my husband was half as handy as your darling husband!

  16. Just beautiful, Traci. Thank you for giving us all the facts with pictures and tutorials. So many times we see beautiful staged rooms online or in magazines, but you really give us the inspiration and knowledge to set reasonable goals and achieve them.

  17. Congratulations on getting this done, Traci! Cy is just amazing–I’m so proud he’s been able and willing to do all this work on your house. Together y’all are making that place into a wonderful, beautiful home!

  18. Your floors are gorgeous and have so much character with all the slight imperfections! Cy did an outstanding job on this floor –how fortunate you are!

  19. The floor looks AMAZING Traci!! I can just imagine how excited you all must be!! Cy has done a fabulous job! I can’t believe he got up at 3:30 in the morning to do the second coat of poly! What a trooper!! You are so blessed!!

  20. I love it too, Traci!!! You’ve both worked so hard but the end is in sight! Unlike us, we’ve taken a break from indoor renos this summer and moved to upgrading the outside. A covered deck is on the agenda next! :) Can’t wait for pictures of the final “product” :) blessings, Traci!!

  21. They are beautiful! Love the character they provide. I have a question…what does the buffing before the final coat of poly do? I have heard of screening…is it the same? Great job!

  22. Great info on using lumber liquidators
    And their utility grade oak flooring. Great
    Price too. Cy did a beautiful job on the
    floors. It was a lot of extra work, but so
    worth it. Will u be putting same flooring
    in master bath or tiling?

  23. Beautiful! I am just “Giddy” for you!!! LOL! Seriously, Cy did an amazing job! Your house is going to be gorgeous!


    Marilyn C.

    P.S. Have a super time at Haven! Wish I could be there, but gotta work! :(

  24. AMAZING…We’ve been looking at this exact floor but worried about what it would look like. Now we know it will be beautiful. So was the difference of the 1700 and 1100 just wasted or did you over buy by that much on purpose? How bad was the stuff you couldn’t use… If I am looking at doing 1500 sq feet I am wondering what I would have to buy.

    Please feel free to email me. :)

  25. Love, love, love the floors!!!!!! If we buy an old broken down farm house, will you and Cy fix it up for us?!!!!

  26. Traci,
    This is absolutely beautiful! {Plus the cost factor, that makes it even better!} I love the look and the warmth. It’s so fun to watch all your projects, can’t wait to see what’s next!

  27. Such beautiful floors!! I’ve wanted to put hardwood in our house and I think that this might just be the floor. I’ll add it to my memory bank for when we do our reno.

  28. Hello,

    How lovely :-) !
    we are in serious need of new flooring.. want to do hard wood .. this is definitely an inspiration .
    what a hubby you have !

    God Bless,

  29. We just purchased the utility grade from LL – and as I was sorting through it today, I began to get discouraged. We have a 1350 sq ft first floor, and purchased 1850 sq ft. of the utility grade flooring to do it…but as I sorted, I started to wonder if we would ever have enough “good stuff” and “sort of good stuff” to complete this huge job. I started a google search, and found your blog entry. THANK YOU – this was just the encouragement I needed tonight. Back to the stack to continue sorting! :)

  30. I LOVE this! We are redoing a home and need to cover about 3000 sq feet! We love the reclaimed look, but at $5-6/foot it’s super expensive, and this would give the same “worn” look for a fraction of the price. Thanks for the great info!!

  31. These look amazing, we are currently considering the DIY utility grade route but concerned about the costs adding up, did you happen to keep track of the total DIY cost for the sanding & staining?


  32. Did you run into issues with mixing v-groove and square edge pieces? (Lumber liquidators notes that this is a possible mix you could receive in the lot so I am curious if you had problems)

  33. We just installed floors like this, cabin grade red oak. We’re trying to decide on a stain color and we are leaning towards dark Walnut now :). Did you use water based poly or oil based?

  34. I wonder if you could use a majority of utility grade flooring then mix in, maybe 30%, of a higher grade to get a few longer boards in there. I LOVE the floor and I love that there are no chemicals etc. Im looking at LVP right now but honestly its just trying to look like wood and we might as well just get the real thing. we live on a ranch so the roughed up floors would be in keeping with the look we are trying to achieve.

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