Guide to Wood Flooring
If you’re looking to renovate your current flooring solution and hardwood sparks an interest, you will quickly come to realize that the process of choosing and fitting wood flooring is harder than it seems. Your options and considerations are listed below
Not All Wood Flooring Are The Same
To the unsuspected eye all wood flooring may look alike.
Take a closer look and you will see small differences that while may appear insignificant at first, these would affect the service life of the floor.
There are two types of wood flooring that cost about the same, externally look about the same and require the same care and maintenance regime. One is called ‘real’ wood flooring, though its industry term is solid wood flooring, while an alternative is called ‘machined’ wood flooring, though its industry name is in fact engineered wood flooring.
Solid Wood Flooring
To describe it, the general public uses the nickname real wood flooring because each floorboard is made of complete 100% natural wood. This natural wood can include common hardwoods such as Oak and Walnut, as well as more exotic and even tropical hardwoods such as Teak and many others.
Engineered Wood Flooring
You would come across this type under the variants of engineered, machined or even constructed wood flooring. Its description is derived directly from the structure of each floorboard. The top layer (the one visible to the eye when the floor is fitted) is made from natural wood, however unlike the previous type, this time the degree of natural wood is limited to a layer of 3mm to 6mm thick. The core of the engineered floorboard is made from MDF, Plywood and Softwood.
Confused As To Which Type For You? Its Quite Simple Really
In the vast number of projects, homeowners can fit either of the two safe in the knowledge that their decision won’t affect the service life of the floor. Only in unusual circumstances does one type prove superior to another. Here are those unusual circumstances.
Unusual Foot Traffic
Areas that experience higher levels of foot traffic such as in retail storefronts or commercial offices will benefit from solid wood floors rather than engineered wood. The use of 100% wood in the solid type will make the floorboard stronger thereby reducing common wear and tear as well as giving owners the ability to sand and stain the floorboards many times over.
When Under Floor Heating Is Fitted
If you come across hardwood flooring displaying gaps between the floorboards or ‘rising’, it is likely due to humidity and the natural reaction of wood to expand when temperature rises or to contract when the temperature drops. If you fit solid wood over under floor heating, you would get this exact reaction which is not only visually unpleasing but will also damage the floorboards. On the other hands, engineered wood due to its varied construction of wood and manmade materials will not react in this manner and can be fitted over under floor heating.
High Humidity Areas
Moisture and wet conditions do not go hand in hand with natural wood. Fitting wood flooring in the bathroom and kitchen areas is recommended only when engineered wood is considered. With a suitable coating (a translucent top layer), the floorboard can be made waterproof to a degree. Owners must be made aware that the coating has to be maintained and topped up every so often to retain the water repellent properties of the floorboard.
If the circumstances mentioned above do not apply in your home renovation project, you can entertain either solid or engineered wood flooring. As we said previously, in the vast number of projects both solid and engineered can be considered.
Floorboard Top Coating
As we mentioned briefly before, hardwood floorboards are covered in a thin layer that has two functions. It provides some level of protection from minor day-to-day damage such as scuffs, but it is also helpful to achieve a desired finish such as high glare (glossy like originating from lacquered base finish) or more understated and natural (matt like originating from oil base finish. Wood floorboards can come prefinished or unfinished thereby allowing you to apply the desired finish after the fitting stage.
Oil based coatings will filter into the wood thereby providing a coating that requires less care in terms of topping up. On the other hand, lacquered based coatings remain on the surface of the floorboard and while they are quicker to wear, they also offer a level of waterproofness. You can apply more than one coating to improve its functional role.
In the past, the look of the floorboard in terms of shade was mainly linked to the species of wood. However, nowadays it is possible and quite common to use the coating layer to colour the floorboard thereby achieving popular shades such as white wood flooring and dark wood flooring. As you can imagine, there are no white or black hardwoods, this can only be achieved using the coating layer to colour the floorboards.
Homeowners often choose a coating that offers a balance between practicality and interior décor suitability.
A Word About Sustainability
Your options for sourcing the floorboards are plentiful, from online to high street stores. We urge you to check the origin of the wood with the supplier to ensure it was ethically sourced. Reputable sellers source their range from managed forests in which new trees are constantly planted so your decision to fit hardwood does not come on the expense of natural habitats. Sellers will either display the FSC credential of ethical sourcing or you can simply ask to see their ethical credentials.