Bruce Hydropel Flooring Review: Hardwood for 2022

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bruce hydropel flooring review

With over 100 years of history, Bruce may be one of the oldest consecutive flooring companies in the world.

What is most impressive, though, is what they offer. You won’t find carpet, laminate or vinyl here. Bruce only sells hardwood.

Is Bruce the right brand for you?

In this article we look at the Hydropel flooring that has a lot to offer. We will compare, rate and review the Bruce Hydropel line and help you decide if it is a good fit for your home.

What Does Bruce Hydropel Offer?

Bruce hasn’t changed a lot in their 100+ years, but if it isn’t broken, why fix it? Hydropel is a new addition to the family and it has a lot to offer.

  • Waterproofing on 6 sides. Hydropel offers 6 “dimensions” of waterproofing that protect the top, sides, bottom and even the core from water damage.
  • Large selection of colors. With various stains and shades your natural wood can be ordered to match your décor.
  • Incredible 50-year warranty. With one of the longest, most extensive warranties in the business, your investment is protected.
  • DIY install capable. With Bruce’s interlocking system you don’t need nails or adhesives to install the flooring.
  • Various styles and wood types. With Hydropel, you aren’t limited to a single style, you can choose your wood, tone, and even finish.

Who is Bruce?

Bruce is one of the dozen brands under the AHF Products family. Dealing only in engineered and solid hardwood floors, Bruce is one of the major leaders in sustainability and wood sourcing. All of the wood used in Bruce products come from the Appalachian Mountains where Bruce is headquartered.

With over 100 years of history, devotion and flooring experience, Bruce knows a thing or two about your flooring needs. While they may not be the most popular option, nor do they offer the largest overall selections, they have their place.

Whether you are looking for a flooring that is US sourced and produced or just want something that will stand the test of time, Bruce has an answer for your needs.

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Hardwood for Your Home

buyers guide right hardwood for your home

Before you head out to your local flooring company and start browsing for Bruce products, let’s take a moment to explore the various consideration factors you need to make before you ever consider making a purchase.

Project Area Size

The size of the space you wish to add flooring to is quite important. Not only will it tell you how much product you need to buy, but it will also be a deciding factor for other major decisions.

Installers, for example, need to know how many square feet to charge for, tool and equipment rental by the hour can save money, but only if you know how many hours it will take. Everything comes down, eventually, to the size, in square feet, of the space.

Type of Hardwood

Bruce offers two types of wood in their Hydropel line, Hickory and Oak. These engineered planks are redesigned from the ground up giving you amazing grain detail, excellent protection and unique styles, colors and finishes.

While other brands go out of their way to offer dozens (or more) wood types, Bruce keeps your choices simple so you can make a decision quickly and enjoy the entire process.

Colors and Styles

With five different colors, the stains and finishes range from light to dark, including natural tones and dyed coloring. Whatever your décor calls for, you can find it in the Hydropel line.

With light and dark browns to compliment any home, you can also go with grays and dark hickory for a more subtle calming atmosphere. White oak also offers a few different tones from a ghostly white to an earthy reddish brown. You can transform the entire look of your home with a simple flooring install, and Bruce has the colors to make it happen.

Accessories

When installing hardwood planks you also need to think about the accessories that may be needed, trim molding and thresholds, for example, may need to be updated as well. Transition molding is needed when the hardwood ends and meets another flooring type, such as carpet.

And, you can’t forget about the baseboards or stair options either. For a full match you need to be prepared to account for each section of the floor and surrounding space as a whole, which needs to be budgeted for correctly.

Underlayment and Padding

Depending on your subfloor type and condition you will need an underlayment or more. For example, concrete flooring will generally require a moisture barrier. This protects humidity and moisture from soaking through the bottom and damaging your flooring.

Underlayments will add support, noise dampening and cushion underfoot. Rubber and cork are the most popular options and work well with moisture barriers. Plywood and PVC are other options as well, both of which are readily available and easy to install along with the flooring.

Installation Method

Installing Hydropel engineered hardwood is a simple process, thanks to the Bruce interlocking design. This means that anyone with the time and desire can install the flooring themselves. There are obvious benefits to a DIY install of Bruce flooring, mainly in the money saved.

With professional installation it will cost a lot more (more information below), but does have a host of benefits. Included in that list is a speedy install, professional finish, labor warranties and of course, no work or time needed on your part.

Price and Warranty

Finally, the price and warranty will be a major factor in your final decision. The overall cost includes the flooring, accessories, underlayments and installation costs (if any). Depending on the floor size, this cost can easily grow into the thousands of dollars.

New flooring is an investment and you need to protect that investment. By following care and maintenance guidelines and Being careful with your new floor you can help protect it. However, the best method is to understand and apply your warranties.

The Bruce warranty protects the flooring itself, but your installer/labor warranty will protect the work and time that goes into getting repairs or replacement claims completed.

Bruce Hydropel Flooring Reviewed

bruce hydropel review

While Bruce does offer plenty of various hardwood flooring options, this review focuses on the Hydropel Line. There are more limitations on selections and availability, as you will see below. However, this could be the last flooring you need to buy.

Wood Types

Hydropel is available in both Oak and Hickory which have excellent grain patterns and deep lines that look great in any setting. It is important to note that all Bruce Hydropel is engineered hardwood and not solid hardwood.

This is done because otherwise it would be near impossible to offer full waterproofing to a solid hardwood board. However, with a new proprietary wood core, the Bruce Hydropel line is waterproofed on all 6 sides and is hardwood throughout.

Most brands use a pressed or plywood core with a layer of hardwood on top. However, Bruce uses solid hardwood chips to create their core giving it a solid hardwood top, hardwood core and a hardwood base.

Waterproofing Hardwood?

This hardwood core allows the brand to add waterproofing protection to the top and bottom layers, as many brands do. This results in a plank that is water resistant and can handle a damp mop or occasional spill.

The downside, though, is that the pressed fiberboard core can still absorb moisture and cause damage or warping over time. With Hydropel, though, the solid hardwood chip core can also be waterproofed, giving you all-around waterproofing.

The core and top and bottom layers can withstand moisture, humidity, wet mopping, leaks and spills with standing water for up to 36 hours.

Color and Style Options

When it comes to the Oak and Hickory the natural colors shine through. Each has their own tones and highlights that Bruce plays on perfectly. You can get 5 color options from white to dark gray.

The color options tend to fall in the brown and red-brown range with a warmth and comfort that comes from the woods. With natural tones, light gray, dark gray, browns and white tones, you can find the color that matches your décor.

Price and Warranty

Bruce is also quite affordable as far as hardwood options go. With industry averages ranging between $6 and $15 per square foot, Bruce can be purchased for $4 and $8 per square foot. This is due to the fact that all boards are the same width (5-inches) but offer various lengths so you can create more intricate designs and patterns.

The warranty, though, is a huge draw. Because it is labeled as waterproof there are a bit of client side aspects that you need to adhere to. This includes minimizing water contact, preventing prolonged water pooling and maintaining a regular cleaning regimen.

If you can do all of this, though, you are rewarded with a 50-year warranty against defects, damage and warping due to normal wear and tear. Where most brands offer warranties from 2 to 20 years, Bruce more than doubles most other hardwood offers.

What People are Saying

Overall, the reactions and reviews for Bruce Hydropel are mixed. In most cases the reviews are overwhelmingly good (except from competitors). Because Bruce is available online, in flooring stores and in home improvement shops like Home Depot and Lowe’s, it is readily available.

The lower price allows more leeway when it comes to purchase options that give most reviewers reason to love their new flooring. Most ratings give them high marks for durability, ease of install and the warranty coverage.

On the down side, you will find installers giving negative marks for the planks being a bit fragile during the install. When going fast or using a hammer without a knocking block, the interlocking tabs can crack or even break.

Finding the right installer with knowledge and experience as well as the patience to install correctly, most of the negative aspects can be avoided.

At a Glance

There are two wood types to choose from. Let’s see how they compare to one another.

Wood TypeColorsLookWarrantyCost
Hickory7Distressed, Traditional, Hand Scraped50 years$4 – $7 per sq. ft.
Oak4Distressed, Traditional, Hand Scraped50 years$5 – $8 per sq. ft.

Bruce Pros, Cons & Ratings

bruce pros and cons

There are obvious good and bad sides to almost everything and Hydropel is no different. Do the good things outweigh the bad? Only you can decide that based on your needs and expectations.

Here we list the positive and negative aspects as well as give an overall rating to the brand as a whole.
ProsCons
Waterproof hardwoodNot the highest quality on the market
Solid hardwood coreSmaller selection than other brands
Readily available online or through local retailers 
Great color and tone ranges 
Affordable pricing 

Ratings

  • Selection: 2
  • Warranty: 4.5
  • Durability: 3.5
  • Installation: 3.5
  • Price: 4
  • Quality: 4
  • Eco-Friendliness: 3.5

 

  • Overall Rating: 3.5

Bruce Hydropel Vs. Other Hardwood Brands

bruce hydropel vs other hardwood brands

How does Bruce Hydropel stand up to other engineered hardwood brands? We compare it to Somerset and Lumber Liquidators to find out.

Bruce Vs. Somerset

Somerset flooring offers a unique perspective on the engineered hardwood flooring. Like Bruce, they stick mainly to Oak and Hickory. However, they also offer a small selection of Birch and Maple options.

Bruce has a 5-inch wide board in varying lengths (up to 48-inches), though Somerset has two widths to choose from. The biggest difference, though, of course is the waterproofing.

Somerset hardwood is not waterproof, isn’t marketed as such and cannot withstand a lot of water. Bruce, on the other hand, is unique in that they have a full waterproof line that is not only protected from standing water but all-around water damage.

The Bruce 50-year warranty is also very nice, but Somerset offers a lifetime warranty. The main difference is that, of course, water damage is a big part of both warranties, for different reasons.

Somerset has a slightly higher quality product with a thicker wear layer and more durability, but they also cost quite a bit more. Bruce, on the other hand, is more affordable and waterproof, but has half the warranty coverage.

Bruce Vs. Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators is a brand that offers country-wide storefronts to sell, resale and cosign brands from all over, including their own.

The Lumber Liquidators brand of engineered hardwoods are not waterproof and only a few are water resistant. However, they are highly affordable. Partly because of the level of quality but also because Lumber Liquidators caters to the budget-friendly flooring niche.

Where Bruce quality is shown in the core, using all hardwood chips, Lumber Liquidators uses a pressed MDF core. While it is sturdy and cheap, it doesn’t deal with any type of moisture well at all.

If you have a tighter budget or need to floor a smaller space (in a dry area), Lumber Liquidators may have an option that suits your needs. Don’t expect amazing warranties or extra long life expectancy, but they are a decent solution for many homes.

On the other side of that coin, Bruce becomes the rare more expensive brand. The higher quality, longer warranty coverage and waterproof design make Bruce a much better option, if you can afford it.

Care and Maintenance of Bruce Hydropel Flooring

Cleaning hardwood flooring usually comes with a lot of disclaimers such as no wet mopping, keep out of water-prone areas and always install above grade.

However, Hydropel has a little different care instructions. You can install the flooring in any room, at any grade and even use a wet mop to clean.

What you cannot do, though, is use a steam mop as the heat and moisture combined is not good for any wood surface, even the waterproof ones.

General care includes regular cleaning with a sweep or vacuum at least once a week. Mopping is recommended on an as-needed basis, but weekly is also acceptable.

Each box of flooring will come with a complete cleaning and maintenance guide that you should follow. This will help protect your warranty and keep your floors looking great at all times. Bruce also offers a wide range of floor cleaning products specifically designed for their hardwood flooring selections. While you aren’t required to use them, it is worth browsing the options.

Finding a Professional Installer

One of the hardest parts of new flooring in your home is having it installed. Finding the right installer means having to run background checks, read ratings, reviews, check for licenses, insurance and more.

Not only that, but you should get at least three quotes for services, and estimates of costs. All of this can be a headache and you still may not feel comfortable with your options. We can help.

We have partnered with Networx to bring you a free tool to help you find the best contractor. Should you decide to hire out the install, using this form will give you the results you need.

Each contractor will be presented to you in an email that offers only those that pass the proper testing. All background checks, ratings, reviews and other aspects have already been done for you.

The best part is that each result is local to your area, so you won’t have to deal with out of town companies. All you have to do is call and schedule the quotes and estimates.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq bruce hydropel flooring review

In this section we will cover the most commonly asked questions about Bruce, Hydropel and engineered hardwood as a whole. As always, if you have further questions please use the comment section below.

Q. Is Bruce a good flooring brand?

  1. Bruce is a brand that has history and longevity behind them. They are considered a mid-range brand but newer innovations, such as the Hydropel waterproof hardwood helps keep the company at the front of the flooring industry.

Being available in so many stores with plenty of options make Bruce a good flooring brand with solutions for many homeowners nationwide.

Q. How do I contact Bruce?

  1. Bruce customer service (from AHF Products) is unique in that they do not force you to talk to an automated system. When you call 1-866-243-2726, you will get a human to help you with any issues or questions you may have. Just make sure you call during posted business hours.

Q. Is waterproof hardwood actually possible?

  1. Waterproofing hardwood is possible by eliminating the MDF or compressed fiberboard cores that most engineered hardwood comes with. However, this doesn’t mean you can be careless or negate maintenance. You still need to try and prevent water pooling, standing or leaking areas and clean up wet messes as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Bruce Hydropel engineered hardwood flooring is a solid option for many homes. If you have a large area, want to install hardwood in more unconventional areas or have floors that are prone to wet messes, it is ideal.

With a 50-year warranty and low maintenance, Bruce hardwood has what you need. While they may not be the most innovative brand or offer the largest selection, their lower prices and low gloss boards will offer a match to almost every décor.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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