The History of Somerset Hardwood Flooring
Somerset Hardwood Flooring is a Privately Owned Company with over 20 Years Growth in the Hardwood Industry. They are experts in the wood business, building a strong reputation for manufacturing quality Appalachian lumber and unfinished flooring. Somerset built a name for quality for many years prior to entering into the manufacturing of prefinished flooring. From the outset, they have made a major commitment to produce the finest quality prefinished flooring—from their investment in machinery, materials, and processes, to the recruiting and hiring of skilled employees.
As demand for their prefinished flooring has seen significant growth, they have expanded to multiple manufacturing facilities in Somerset, Burnside, and Munfordville, Kentucky. They are also one of the few manufacturers to have a full-time forestry staff. Their forestry team is not only concerned with making better products but in doing that in an environmentally friendly way.
Table of Contents
1. The History of Somerset Hardwood Flooring
1.1. The Owners
1.2. The Staff
2. The Highest Quality Solid Hardwood in the US?
2.1 The Grading
2.2 Quality Control: Vertical Integration
2.3 Somerset’s Hardwood Finishes
3. The Highest Quality Engineered Hardwood in the US?
3.1 Somerset SolidPlus™ Origins
3.2 How is SolidPlus Manufactured?
3.3 The Engineered Core
4. Somerset Hardwood Flooring Collections
4.1 Color Strip 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ in Solid
4.2 Classic 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ in Solid, 3 ¼ and 5” in SolidPlus™
4.3 Specialty–Oak 2 ¼, 3 ¼, 4, and Random, Maple-2 ¼, 3 ¼, 4, and 5, Hickory-3 ¼, 4, and 5
4.4 Wide Plank – SolidPlus™ Exclusive in 7” Oak, Hickory and Maple 6”
4.5 Color Plank 4 and 5 Solid Only
4.6 High Gloss 2 ¼, 3 ¼ Solid Only
4.7 Homestyle 2 ¼, 3 ¼ Solid Color Plank 4 and 5 Solid Only
4.8 Hand Crafted SolidPlus™ Only, 3 ¼, 4 and 5, plus Random widths, Oak Planks 7”, Hickory Maple 6”
4.9 Tru Oak 2 ¼ and 3 ¼, Solid Only”
5. Here to Serve
Occasionally we get asked, “Who makes your hardwood flooring”?
Well, we buy from many different mills. Since we are a liquidator, we get calls from companies all over the U.S., looking for help cleaning out a warehouse or closing out a discontinued style. Maybe they just have too much of something. We are willing to work with anyone if the price is right!
However, our favorite company to partner with is Somerset Hardwood Flooring, based in Somerset Kentucky. Why are they our favorites? Lots of reasons!
Let’s start with the owners. Steve Merrick and his family have owned Somerset Hardwood Flooring for generations. Not only are they very good at what they do, but they are genuinely good people. And we love to do business with good people. The Merrick family has been a joy to work with, and we look forward to many more years of helping our customers with the same courtesy that Somerset offers us.
The employees are what really make Somerset special. We work very closely with not only the sales staff but the manufacturing people as well. While the lumber and flooring business is unusual in that the industries are filled with a small group of professionals that all know each other, Somerset’s people are known as the best in the business.
So how is it that Somerset manages to employee the brightest stars in the hardwood flooring galaxy? Drum roll……
Write this down….Somerset Hardwood Flooring makes the highest quality flooring in the United States.
The Highest Quality Solid Hardwood in the US?
I realize that is a pretty forward statement, and, in this blog, I will try to explain why I think Somerset makes the best floor available.
To begin with, let’s define what I think makes the highest quality flooring.
First, grading. Manufacturers have a choice: they can make the grades that the customer wants, then work harder to generate products that use the less desirable grades of wood, or they can grade their floor in a way that produces the highest yield. Most companies make 2 grades of wood. At most, 3. Somerset makes 5! This means that they are not putting multiple grades in a box, but separating the grades so that their customers get exactly what they want. Unfortunately, this costs more. More SKUs to stock, more samples to generate, and more products to keep up with. On the plus side, it makes Somerset product line worth more as it presents more opportunities for our customers. If you want to learn more about hardwood grades visit our blog on the topic Hardwood Grades 101.
Quality Control: Vertical Integration
Next will be the manufacturing process. Ever ask a group of kids which one broke the window? Let the finger-pointing begin! It can be the same in hardwood manufacturing. With different companies handling different aspects of the manufacturing process, mistakes can happen. This is something else we love about Somerset….they are responsible for the flooring from beginning to end. Not only are they harvesting the trees, processing the wood, operating the sawmills, running the kilns, milling the flooring, grading the wood, and applying the world’s best finish, in many cases, they even plant and grow the trees! Talk about integration! Oh, and did I mention they use their byproduct to make wood pellets and sell them to consumers to warm their homes? All dry-kilned domestic hardwoods! If you have a pellet heater, grill, or stove, try the Somerset pellets.
Sorry….I get distracted.
Okay, so we have established that Somerset wrote the book on vertical integration. Well, maybe they didn’t write the book. After all, most of the people at Somerset are Kentucky fans. But they did hire a Tennessee graduate to read it to them, and they have implemented the plan to perfection! To the consumer, that means quality control and grading rules are constant, from sawlog to finished product, and that makes a difference.
Another aspect of the manufacturing process that has a great deal to do with the quality is the finishing line.
I recently toured Somerset’s engineered hardwood plant in Crossville, TN, for the purpose of gathering information for a blog on hardwood floor finishes. The plant manager himself took the time to walk us through, and explain things to us. He even let us shoot video to better illustrate how Somerset floors are finished…. until we reached a certain point. Then he asked that we stop filming. He explained that the next part of the process was where his team had just made a big improvement in the manufacturing process, and he didn’t want anyone else to know about it. According to the plant manager, it was a game-changer, and Somerset will be the only company using this feature for a while. He wouldn’t tell us what it was. Dang it!
Somerset’s Hardwood Finishes
Another advantage that Somerset uses is their Ultimate UV-Cured Aluminum Oxide Urethane finish. Keep in mind that all finishes are not created equal. The amount of Aluminum Oxide, curing process, and quality of the urethane are important pieces of the equation, and Somerset spares no expense in making their products the best in the country.
We haven’t even talked about Somerset’s engineered flooring!
The Highest Quality Engineered Hardwood in the US?
This is where it gets interesting. While we have discussed how Somerset leads the industry in the quality of their solid products, their lead in the engineered business increased greatly with the introduction of their SolidPlus™ products.
Somerset SolidPlus™ Origins
There are 2 ways that the veneers for an engineered floor can be cut from a log. The cheapest, and the way utilized by the vast majority of manufacturers, is the rotary peel method. Here a log is literally peeled, around and around until the knife reaches the core, leaving sheets of veneer ready to be used on the surface of the floor. This is a great way to get a higher yield from the tree and lower costs. Unfortunately, it also offers a look that customers that are in the know do not care for.
We often hear from customers that they prefer a solid floor over an engineered one because it looks better. Solid floors are all sliced across the face of the log, resulting in a spectacular display of various grains, peaks, and colors. When you peel a log, you lose this, and the peeled visual is what most consumers are familiar with. Enter Somerset’s SolidPlus™!
How is SolidPlus Manufactured?
What Somerset did was introduce an engineered floor that looked exactly like a solid. How did they do that? By slicing their veneers across the face of the log, just like they cut their solids. Voila’! Now consumers can buy an engineered that looks like a solid! Why doesn’t every manufacturer offer a sawn-face floor? Because it is expensive! Most manufacturers, as well as retailers, have decided that it is easier to sell flooring completely on price. After all, as long as you are saving money, you are happy, right? That is why you will never see a Somerset floor sold in a box store.
Somerset is dedicated to selling high-quality products, and that will always require trained retailers, professionals in the flooring business that are willing to help their customers find the floor that is best for them, rather than sticking a cheap price for a cheaply made piece of crap floor from China. Crazy enough, there is very little price difference!
While the surface of the floor is where the look comes from, it is Somerset’s hardwood core that will be the reason you still love your floor when you are in your old age.
The Engineered Core
With solid wood floors, the hardness is determined by the species. We have Janka tests that make species relative as far as the hardness goes. Think denting!
In engineered floors, the core means everything as far as longevity and hardness. Going back to the low-end floors we talked about a moment ago, retailers are in for a penny, in for a pound. If you are willing to use a peeled veneer, are you going to use a superior core? Yeah, right. Selling cheap flooring is a slippery slope.
Somerset uses an 8 ply, all hardwood core, easily the finest core used by any U.S manufacturer. When life happens on a floor, you want to know that your floor can handle it, not that you saved 50 cents a square foot.
If you would like to receive a sample of any particular floor give us a call or drop us an email. – Ted Cook
Somerset Hardwood Flooring Collections
Below we will give you a quick rundown of all of the Somerset collections. If you have any questions about Somerset products give us a call. If you would like to receive a sample of any particular floor give us a call or drop us an email. Also, you will not see these products listed on our website, as Somerset prefers that their brand not be advertised or priced on the internet, and we will honor that while selling their brand in our retail stores. That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it and we are just a phone call away for a price that will make you happy you called!
Color Strip 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ in Solid
Somerset’s Color Strip Collection is solid 3/4″ thick flooring crafted from Appalachian oak, which is renowned for its incomparable beauty. Unlike the Classic Collection, the Color Strip has a smooth finish. This floor will have little contrast in the darker colors. Lighter Red Oak Natural and White Oak Natural will show less contrast than other collections due to the extremely high grade of lumber used. Colors offered in the Color Strip include:
- Red Oak Natural,
- White Oak Natural
- Golden Oak
- Metro Brown
The Smoke finish, which is a medium gray with a taupe tint, finishes off this great offering.
Classic 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ in Solid, 3 ¼ and 5” in SolidPlus™
The Classic Collection is made from Appalachian Oak as well but features a wire-brushed finish instead of a smooth surface. This wire-brushing gives the floor a time-worn look, as well as making the floor a bit more durable. How? Because the slight texture will exhibit less of the change in appearance that floors can get over time due to abrasive wear. While Aluminum Oxide makes abrasive wear much less likely, it can still happen, especially in parts of the country with sandy type soils. Colors offered in the Classic include:
- Red Oak Natural
- Urban Gray
Specialty-Oak 2 ¼, 3 ¼, 4, & Random, Maple-2 ¼, 3 ¼, 4, & 5, Hickory 3 ¼, 4, & 5
The Specialty Collection is just that….special! This group of products offers bold colors on Hickory and Hard Maple, as well as 3 random width Oak floors. The Specialty is made using the highest grades of lumber and will exhibit less variation in color than the Character Collection. Somerset offers products like Hickory Natural and Maple Natural graded in a manner to offer a unique look, at a price that is comparable to other manufacturer’s lower-grade products. The Specialty Collection is a great choice for customers looking for something besides the traditional Oak floors. Colors offered in Specialty include:
- Mountain Brown
- Country Night
- Hickory Natural
- Hickory Moonlight
- Hickory Spice
- Hickory Nutmeg
- Maple Natural
- Maple Greystone
- Maple Tumbleweed
- Rustic Grey
Wide Plank – SolidPlus™ Exclusive in 7” Oak, Hickory and Maple 6”
This Collection is Somerset’s answer to the customer that wants the widest floor possible, in today’s top colors. Using durable hardwood like Hickory, Hard Maple, and Red and White Oaks ensures that this is a product that not only looks great but will continue to be beautiful for years to come. The Wide Plank Collection also offers 2 floors, Gunstock and Maple Mist. The Wide Plank offers a distressed surface, further cementing this product’s place as the trend-setter. Colors offered in Wide Plank include:
- Natural Red Oak
- Natural White
- Colonial Gray
- ToastHickory Saddle
Color Plank 4 and 5 Solid Only
The Color Plank Collection is a similar floor to the Color Strip, but is available in 4” and 5” widths. In fact, some customers like to order all 4 widths to install a random width floor. Wide planks can give a floor a look that is unattainable with the narrower strip floors. Colors offered in Color Plank include:
- Natural Red Oak
- Natural White
- Golden Oak
- Metro Brown
High Gloss 2 ¼, 3 ¼ Solid Only
Somerset’s High Gloss Collection also uses Appalachian Oak lumber but also includes a glossy finish to satisfy the customer that prefers a higher luster in their home. This floor is also made from the highest grades of lumber. Colors offered in High Gloss include:
- Natural Red Oak
- Natural White Oak
- Cherry Oak
Homestyle 2 ¼, 3 ¼ Solid
The Homestyle Collection is another example of a floor that utilizes the higher grades of Appalachian Oak, but with the added feature of a 4 sided eased edge. The Homestyle Collection is a great example of Somerset providing what their customers ask for with quality in mind. Colors offered in Homestyle include:
- Natural Red Oak
- Natural White Oak
- Metro Brown
Hand Crafted SolidPlus™ Only, 3 ¼, 4 and 5, plus Random widths, Oak Planks 7”, Hickory Maple 6”
The Hand Crafted Collection includes subtle hand scraping and texture—prepackaged for a stylish random width pattern, or in ultra-wide widths. Somerset has introduced a product line that has something for everyone. This collection comes with a great color line and several width options while maintaining its high-quality standards.
Tru Oak 2 ¼ and 3 ¼, Solid Only
Tru Oak is the newest addition to the Somerset family of products, and arguably one of the top values. The Tru Oak series has similar lumber as the Character Collection. Tru Oak includes more natural-occurring features such as knots and mineral streaks. This product will have a shorter average board length than the higher graded Oak floors such as Color Strip and Homestyle. The Tru Oak is also a low gloss offering, with a gloss rating of 10%. That is a really low gloss!
Don’t expect Somerset Hardwood Flooring to lower the quality on this floor, as it still features the Ultimate UV cured aluminum oxide finish, as well as a 25-year finish warranty and a lifetime structural warranty. This is just another example of Somerset leading the industry is offering products at specific grades, instead of packaging multiple grades together. The Tru Oak series is technically a “Builder Grade” product and carries a 15-year warranty.
Here to Serve
If you want a sample of Somerset hardwood we would be happy to help. If you would like to shop solid hardwood or engineered hardwood visit our products page for some of the best deals in the US for flooring. We are here to serve you and would be happy to help with any questions you may have.