Anyone who has recently fitted wood flooring will tell you that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to options and styles. New technologies and advances in the way wood is sourced have contributed to an abundance of choice. In this blog post, we aim to explain your options so you are able to choose the best product for your precise circumstances.
Wood Flooring Types:
There are two common types of wood flooring and while for most properties your decision to fit one instead of the other won’t matter, in other cases it could prove a costly mistake. The most popular type is solid wood flooring. As you can gather by its name, each floor board is made from complete 100% solid wood. The second type is engineered wood flooring and while each floor board looks precisely like the solid type, they differ in their construction. Instead of complete wood, each floor board includes three or four layers of Plywood, MDF, Softwood and hardwood veneer on the top. Your decision to prefer one type to the other should be based on the particular characteristics of each technology.
Solid Wood Flooring – Because of their complete wood construction, they are regarded as the stronger of the two. Service life of a well-maintained floor could exceed 50 years. Each floor board can be sanded and stained after years of wear and tear thereby refreshing its look. Because of its natural construction, solid flooring has two common drawbacks. Floor boards are limited in size and the wood may experience a reaction to temperature changes. In some conditions the wood may expand (in hot conditions) or contract (in cold conditions), however if taken into account during fitting, it can be overcome.
Engineered Wood Flooring – Because of their contrasting construction, engineered are better suited for damp areas such as the kitchen or in properties that are located near a water source. While their service life may reach 50 years, the average service life is around 25 years. Floor boards are not limited in sizes and won’t react to temperature changes. However, sanding is not always possible and will depend on the thickness of the hardwood veneer. For most properties, be it residential or commercial, either type of wood flooring will suit. However, if in doubt you should consult with your architects.
Wood Flooring Grade:
The second consideration is the grade of the floor board. Contrary to common belief, grade is not an indication of quality, it is not an indication of durability and won’t affect the characteristics of the wood. It is in-fact an indication to how fine or how rustic the wood is. The more refine the wood is, the higher the grade is. The highest grade is ‘prime’ grade where the wood will feature minimal colour variation and minimal knots. The lowest grade is ‘rustic’ where you will immediately notice heavy grain markings, frequent colour variations and frequent knots of varying sizes. Other grades in between include select and natural. Your decision to prefer one grade over the other should be based your budget and your taste in wood.
Wood Flooring Finish:
The third consideration is the finish of the floor. Each floor board is covered in a transparent layer of coating which helps serves two important goals. In its original form, the finish is meant to provide the floor with basic protection from wear and tear, however in recent years it has been used to colour the floor in a colour different to the original colour of the wood. There are three practical coatings that you should consider.
Lacquer Based Finish – A layer that sits on the top of the wood, lacquer also serves as a waterproof coating. Useful for floor boards that are fitted in damp areas.
Oil Based Finish – A layer that sinks into the wood, oil is the easiest to repair by simply adding more oil. It is the common replacement to wax that has been used in the past.
UV Oil Based Finish – A layer that comes across as slightly glossy, thereby helping hide damage caused by wear and tear.
The Environment and Wood Flooring:
Wood flooring in most cases is sourced from sustainable forests where trees are replenished and ethically transported. If you come across a species of tree previously unknown or you wish to check their status, you can check the endangered list of trees online at www.iucnredlist.org. Supplier displaying the FSC mark which stands for ‘Forestry Stewardship Council’ www.fsc.org have been accredited for sourcing their woods from managed forests. Furthermore, it is in your right to ask the supplier as to the origin of their woods should you decide to check it. Most will have some sort of ethical statement.