There is nothing more luxurious than a natural wood floor. Wood is one of the most sought after flooring options, with timeless looks and enduring properties. All flooring types have their own pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide what option best fits your home and lifestyle. Here are some characteristics of wood flooring to help you decide if it is the right choice for you.
There are two different types of wood flooring. There is solid hardwood flooring. And there is engineered wood flooring. Solid hardwood floors are just that – they’re made from solid wood. Each board is made from a single piece of wood. These boards are normally sanded and finished after installation. Often, these solid floors are more expensive due to the extensive installation process, and the cost of certain raw materials. Engineered wood floors use numerous layers of wood running in opposite direction, normally from 3, up to 7 layers are used. Engineered wood floors are normally completely pre-finished, and as such are much quicker and easier to install, without site dust and coatings to worry about. Most engineered floors can be sanded and refinished in the same way as solid flooring, depending on the top layer thickness. A real benefit of an engineered floor is its stability. They aren’t as prone to shrinking or growing with humidity, and you will not get gaps between boards, like with solid flooring.
The type of subfloor that you have in your home plays a role in determining what floor covering is most suitable. Solid hardwood floors are normally nailed and glued down, and react more to moisture by expanding and shrinking. If you have a basement, an area of your home where moisture and temperature isn’t well regulated, or a concrete slab, solid hardwood floors aren’t recommended. Opt for an engineered wood floor for these areas instead.
Unlike solid hardwood floors, engineered wood can be floated over an underlay, or nailed and glued directly to the subfloor of the home. A floating installation can be an especially good option in multi-storey dwellings to minimise noise, or where there are moisture problems with the sub-floor. Floating an engineered wood floor gives you the ability to use an underlay beneath the floor to assist with footfall noise reduction, warmth and insulation.
One of the best features of a wood floor is the ability to sand it down and refinish it. This feature allows you to remove scuffs, indentations and scratches, bringing them up to new again. A keen DIY’er can do this or a flooring expert can be hired for the job. You can achieve several sands throughout the floors lifetime. The floor cannot be sanded past the tongue and groove of the plank. Be sure you’re taking this into account when comparing wood pricing.
There are a handful of features that can add value to a home come resale time, wood flooring being one of these. New owners are unlikely to need to carry out expensive flooring replacements before moving in. A re-sanding and refinishing can ensure that it look as good as the day it was laid.
Although wood is considered a type of ‘hard flooring’ it tends to still be softer than its counterparts such as ceramic tiles or polished concrete. This means that it is a little softer underfoot, not so hard on joints when standing or on crockery when accidentally dropped.
Wood is one of the most environmentally friendly flooring options available as it comes from trees, which are renewable. The forests that provide our flooring products are growing faster than they are being harvested. Wood flooring is also biodegradable, recyclable and requires less energy to produce than other flooring options. Wood floors with environmental certification are always available.
Choosing the right species of wood flooring for you is a matter of personal preference and budget. Wood flooring is made from a wide range of trees which we refer to as ‘species’. Of course not all wood species are the same price, therefore there may be price differences across the various woods.
Each species has its own colouring spanning a wide spectrum of warm and cool neutrals. Keep in mind that wood flooring is a natural product so knots, colour and grain variation between planks is only natural. Bear in mind that wood samples naturally only provide a limited indication of the look of your finished floor.
Once you have considered the colour palette that you are after, take into consideration how your floor is going to be used. Each species of wood has its own level of hardness. Harder wood species will be more resilient to wear and tear. Softer wood species are more likely to show up the dents from furniture and high heel impact.
Wood floors are one of the few flooring options that become more beautiful with age. Like all natural things that experience change over time, wood floors will experience subtle colour changes as they age. This will be apparent when furniture or rugs are moved. This is a natural process that will add to the character of the floor. Different species of wood flooring will experience colour changes at different rates. As such, a new floor will always differ from an existing sample.
It is always a good idea to order slightly more wood flooring than you need and to store this away somewhere safe. When you come to making any alterations to your home and need to ‘patch’ your floor or you seriously damage a plank, you can remove this and replace it.
Timber in the home
In the kitchen... both solid and engineered timber floors are a great option for kitchen and dining spaces. However, dropped food and drinks should be wiped away fairly fast to avoid damage.
In the hallway... both solid and engineered timber floors are fantastic for entry spaces and hallways. For these high traffic areas, it’s recommended to install dirt trapping mats at all external entrances to keep dirt and grit off your floor.
In the bedroom... perfect for the bedroom, timber flooring will be a timeless feature in the space. For chilly winter mornings place a sheepskin on the floor at your bedside for something warm to step onto, or an area rug for kids playing on their bedroom floor.
In the bathroom and laundry... solid wood is not recommended for bathrooms as the humidity and temperature changes can cause damage. Opt for an engineered timber here instead. Wood in the laundry is commonly used but be aware that water damage from leaking or overflowing washing machines is a risk.
In the lounge... timber floors exude a sense of elegance when used in the lounge or living area. Team this with a rug to add texture or warmth if required.