Maple Hardwood Flooring- How can you identify quality?

In Saskatoon, people often ask, how could maple hardwood be priced so differently from one store to the next? They look the same and feel the same, but one is much more expensive.

It’s a fair question and often the answer a consumer receives is more confusing than the quadratic formula. The truth is they are not the same product. Let’s look at maple hardwood and find the keys to determining quality. 

1. What species of maple is it?

There are two generally accepted maple trees used to produce hardwood.

The first species is Hard Maple. This tree grows large and slow allowing it to mature over a long period of time. The slow growth provides a very dense and hard wood which is perfect for flooring. The dense wood stands up to normal household conditions without denting and scratching as much as other softer woods.

The second commonly used tree is Silver Maple. This tree grows rapidly in marshy areas. The ability of this tree to grow quickly means that the wood is much less dense compared to hard maple making it less desirable for flooring. The Silver Maple is classified as a soft wood which means it will dent, scratch and warp easily when put to the test of normal living conditions. The ability to grow this tree quickly means it can be sold as ‘maple’ at a much lower cost.


What to ask a retailer- What is the species of maple?


2. What is the grade of the wood?

Every manufacturer provides a grade of wood which basically determines the amount of variance from board to board.

There are two grades commonly used in today’s market.

  • Select and Better
      • This grade has nice clean boards with minimum streaks and veins creating a subtle and consistent look.


  • Antique or Seconds
      • This grade has many variations from board to board creating a very unique and rustic look. Veins and knots are more visible within the boards.

Unfortunately, there is no industry standard to determine the grade from one manufacturer to another. A manufacturer can associate their product to any grade they want, making it confusing to consumers. The variation in a select and better grade from an entry level maple will contain dramatically more variation then that of a high end product. The ability to use boards with greater variation also contributes to a lower price.

What to ask a retailer- Can you open a box and visually show me the variation?

Don’t be shy about asking some tough questions of the store you’re looking to buy from. If the store is providing quality products at fair prices, they should be able to answer these simple questions. If you’re not comfortable with the answers you receive, keep looking until you find what you’re looking for. Flooring is a substantial investment in your home and you should be comfortable and confident it will meet the demands of your home.


For more information on quality hardwoods, visit Mirage Hardwoods, the number one brand in hardwood.

Kinsmen Showhome in Saskatoon- Flooring

This year we had the privilage of partnering with Homes by Dundee and the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon to be the provider of flooring & window fashions for the 2012 Kinsmen Showhome. The home features warm and earthy tones which is evident in the hardwood, tile, carpet and drapes.

Let’s start with the hardwood found in the kitchen, dining room and hallways. We chose to use an Oak hardwood made by Mirage. Oak hardwood has lots of grain which gives plenty of character. The grain also absorbs stain in a consistent fashion which creates a very balanced look. Combine the character and the consistent color and you’ll find oak hardwood suitable for almost any home.

 Next came the tile which was found in the bathrooms. There was a need to be subtle to allow for other design elements so we chose from the Provenza Series which is a porcelain tile. You’ll notice the creame color has a very soft vein in it. The vein is just enough to add some visual appeal without overwhelming the room. We accented the wall with a glass tile that mimics bamboo to add some character.  

 For the bedrooms and stairs we used a carpet called Fontainbleu by Stainmaster. The carpet is thick and soft which provides comfort underfoot. You’ll notice a subtle pattern in the carpet which provides character. This material was perfect for this staircase.

Finally we added fashion to the windows by creating custom drapes. The colors and styles are simple and warm. With all of the design elements in this room, there was no need to be too bold with the window fashions.



For more pictures, please visit our Facebook page





Hardwood for the Active Household

Let’s face it, hardwood is the king of flooring making any home feel more elegant. It provides warmth, color, and helps create a calm environment for the home. Unfortunately though hardwood is not a great choice for every home.

Hardwood flooring will dent and scratch over time which in most cases, truly adds to the beauty of the floor. But if you have a household consisting of 3 kids and 2 big dogs, that hardwood is going to look beat up in short order. The good news is you can have the look of hardwood in other products that provide the durability your home requires. The visuals are becoming more and more realistic each day. Can you spot the hardwood?




The most recent edition of Saskatoon Home Magazine has an excellent article on the options available to consumers today. Be sure to come to our showroom in Saskatoon and have us help assess your home to ensure you have the products right for your home.



Flooring For The Cottage

This article represents a project that we were fortunate enough to be part of. Our Saskatoon Design Consultants helped with selecting the right products to meet the needs of this cottage.  Enjoy this article brought to you by Saskatoon Home Magazine.





By Aviva Zack for Saskatoon HOME magazine

He pictured a rustic wooden cabin. She wanted a bright white interior with clean lines. The beautiful cottage that Mark and Sharla ended up with was the ideal blend of both their visions.

“It is even better than our original vision,” says Sharla. She credits Terry Kostyna, President of Northern Sky Developments, who made it his mission to create a hybrid timber frame cottage that perfectly suited them both.

When Sharla, who has a keen eye for design and colour having studied interior design years ago at Calgary’s Mount Royal College, approached Terry with their ideas for a lakefront Candle Lake cottage, he was excited for the challenge. “I made it my mission to get inside Sharla’s head,” says Terry.

Her description of Vail Colorado meets eastern Muskoka gave Terry an idea of the blending of styles they were after. But it was the magazine images that Sharla regularly emailed Terry that really helped. “A lot of the ideas for the cottage were in my head,” says Sharla, “so I tried to find pictures that would illustrate the general idea of what I was after.” 


Being two hours away from the build, Mark and Sharla put a great deal of trust in Northern Sky Developments. Communicating with Terry by Blackberry allowed them to be in touch during the 14 months the cottage was being developed, with only a handful of trips out to Candle Lake. “It was a great experience,” says Sharla enthusiastically, clearly thrilled with her new cottage.

And who wouldn’t be thrilled.  With over 3400 square feet of living space in the main house, it is clear no detail was missed. The cottage also boasts a separate guesthouse and indoor parking for four vehicles including a 25 foot boat.

Being a hybrid timber home, they used a lot of clear Douglas-fir which is select vertical grain fir that is free of knots and imperfections. Clear fir can be seen on the window trim, most of the interior and exterior doors, stair posts and railing.  It was also used on the basket weave planks on the main stairway and on the band of wood that creates a separation between the main and second floor.

The arched tresses and timbers found throughout the house are also Douglas-fir which was brought in from Okanagan Timber Frames from Salmon Arm BC, since this no-knot variety is not readily available in Saskatchewan. Rather than drywall, painted tongue and groove pine and stained cedar ceilings were used to maintain the look of a timber home. On the floors, hand-scraped hickory wide plank flooring was used throughout much of the main floor, which is perfect for a beach house, since it’s textured and doesn’t wreck with the wear and tear of lakeside living.


There are numerous details that Mark and Sharla love about their new cottage. Mark’s favourite place in the home is their great room, a comfortable homey space with a fabulous view of the lake. Sharla has a harder time narrowing down her favourite details. She really loves the pillars and posts. She loves the windows and trim detail. She loves the beams. She especially loves the staircase and railing, which was a customized part of the home that Terry and her collaborated on by blending several ideas, and involving six different trades and artisans. What Sharla is most thrilled about however, is that Northern Sky Developments was able to successfully combine modern and rustic elements so seamlessly.

Terry also has his favourite features in the home, which are echoed by Mark and Sharla amongst their top picks as well. Two barn doors that separate the wings of the cottage were an idea from Sharla, that Terry was very involved in building. Solid fir made from recycled warehouse timbers found in Moose Jaw, were cut at Terry’s sawmill in Candle Lake and assembled by their finish carpenter Kim Hildebrand and his team at Unique Builders. They used an antique aging and distressing technique, producing an amazing result. In fact, the doors were entered in a hardware manufacturers photo contest, garnering a top five spot out of 125 entries from across North America.

Another unique detail in the cottage actually evolved from a joke. Sharla had found a photo of a rowboat hanging on a ceiling while poring over magazines. When she showed Mark thinking he would laugh, he actually thought it was a cool idea.

After talking with Terry, they decided to include this feature in their cottage, but it proved much more difficult than they thought. After literally searching across North America for something that would work, they had almost given up when a knock came on the door. “Just when we were about to abandon the idea, a local man who lives nearby heard about our search for a non-floating boat with the right look, and offered to build us a custom rowboat painted in colours authentic to Chesapeake Bay,” says Sharla. Hung on the ceiling in their entertainment room and subtly backlit from above, the rowboat is now a highlight in the home.

In the kitchen, Sharla wanted to maximize the light, ensuring it was bright but also efficiently designed. With no detail overlooked, they had Redl build upscale custom cabinetry, even including a cat cabinet in the adjacent laundry room, ensuring every member of their family has a special space.

On the exterior of the cottage Hardie Plank board and batten siding was used, which is not common in the area. To insure the perfect look, Terry flew to the west coast to see examples first-hand. Terry’s son Max expertly led the construction and design team to complete the impressive exterior.

Northern Sky Developments based out of Martensville is a family business run by Terry, his wife Marianne and their two sons Max and Zak. The Ernst’s Candle Lake Cottage was a build they were very passionate about, and it shows. “I got my hands dirty,” jokes Terry. “The more I was challenged, the more determined I became to give them something very special.”

Despite it being a challenge to ensure the many unique ideas worked together, Terry very successfully managed to marry the different concepts. Mark and Sharla cannot say enough good things about Terry and the many tradespeople they worked with along the way to build their dream getaway. When they escape as often as possible from their busy lives in Saskatoon to their lakeside Candle Lake cottage, they truly feel like they are going home.

For information on the products used on this project, please visit our showroom in Saskatoon.









Hardwood Flooring in Saskatoon- Winter Has Arrived

With the temperature dropping you’ve probably noticed the air in your home is a little dry. The furnace is working full time, your eyes feel dry and your skin is itchy. Moisture has left the building and doesn’t plan to return any time soon.

Did you know that the change in humidity has an effect on the entire structure of your home? It’s hard to imagine but your home actually shrinks in the winter and grows in the summer! That’s because your home is made from wood which reacts to changes in humidity.

As moisture leaves the air in your home, wood will begin to dry out which causes it to shrink. This means your walls, floors, ceiling and even your baseboards are always changing. Do you ever notice this in your home?


 Your hardwood floors will have the same reaction. Have you ever seen this in a home?


As the wood shrinks the gaps between each board will increase in size. Neither of these examples are an illustration of a product failure but rather the reality of how wood reacts to changes in humidity.

So when winter comes to Saskatoon be aware that the change in temperature will have an affect on your home. If your hardwood floor starts to shrink don’t panic! Simply add humidity to the area and watch those gaps close. 


To ensure your next flooring project is a success be sure to visit our team at Braid.






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