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Types

The type of a wooden floor is determined by the structure of the board. There are two main types of wood flooring - Solid and Engineered.

 

SOLID WOOD FLOORING

Solid Wood Flooring is made from one uninterrupted continuous piece of timber machined into a flooring board. It does not involve any other manufacturing process apart from the drying and cutting of the wood.

The historic use of wood as a floor covering dates back to the 17th century. Until then, the houses normally had floors made of compacted clay. The early wooden floors were surface nailed onto joists without any additional sanding or sealing. They were rubbed smooth through use.

Proper solid wood flooring is usually 20mm thick. There are also 18mm and 22mm thick boards on the market, however the established standard is 20mm thickness.

Solid wood can be manufactured into different Styles like strips, boards, planks and blocks in a great variety of lengths and widths.

 

There are several important aspects worth considering before deciding on a Solid Timber floor:

 

- Price - prices vary substantially between the different species. Oak is the most abundant and best priced of all woods and there is a huge choice of oak finishes and sizes. Wood species like Maple, Elm, Ash and Walnut are also popular but may be up to double the price of oak and will certainly always be more expensive.


- Style - strips, boards, wide planks or blocks to achieve the desired look and feel of the floor.
- Width - from narrow 57mm to very wide in excess of 200mm to suit the size and shape of the area where the floor is to be installed.


- Edging
a. Square Shouldered, forming one continuous flat surface - this is generally easier to look after and is better suited for modern homes.
b. Micro Bevelled forming a V shaped groove on the surface. This gives the floor an authentic appearance and takes it back a decade or two by replicating natural wear on the edges. Suited for Character properties.


- Quality of Manufacture - a good floor is where the planks are of longer lengths (preferably same length within each pack), the floor must be dry with moisture content of less than 10% for most species. There must no deviations and warped planks but the planks must be straight when unpacked and join together easily without the need for excessive force.


- Special Effects - various stains and textured finishes on the surface of the wood - consider these carefully as they are factory finishes which will disappear after the first sand and so this renders them temporary. There is a large number of "special floors" with various effects on the surface which come at a hefty price, perhaps unjustifiably so. We would advise against such floors as the continuation of the particular appearance cannot be guaranteed as it has been created in factory conditions. The best option is to work with an unfished board to which effects like staining or white washing can be applied on site . This has two main advantages, firstly the possibility for the finish to be re-created and secondly the fact that a floor finished on site would be sealed entirely unlike pre-finished floors where the joints remain vulnerable and will deteriorate at a much faster rate than the surface of the plank.


- Durability - a proper 20mm thick solid floor will have 5/6mm clearance above the tongue and  the groove which would make it very durable indeed. A belt sander should never have to be used and such a floor should be maintained only by the use of an Orbital sander, cleaning the surface once in a while (we are certainly talking of years, however it depends on how the floor is looked after) and re-coating.


- Suitability - solid wood is suitable for any room in the house. It will wear quicker in the Kitchen or the Lavatory without a doubt but is perfectly maintainable in any room. In case of water pipes underfloor heating (pipes set in concrete) the use of solid wood is still possible (if indeed the wood is properly dried before manufacture), however Engineered boards are better suited for the task as they will have 5/6mm solid layer (as opposed to 20mm solid plank) on top which makes them stable and less prone to movement.


- Type of sealant -
a. Hardwax Oil (oil based) - Hardwax Oil has firmly established itself on the market in the past ten years thanks to its undisputed superior qualities - it preserves the natural colours in timber very well, it is very easy to maintain, does not become yellow, does not peel or flake. Above all, it enhances the natural beauty of wood better than any other sealant and it is perfectly suited for domestic use.
b. Varnish (water based) - waterborne polyurethane varnishes are easy to maintain. They work by creating a thick plastic layer on the surface of the wood making them and ideal protection for commercially used floors. They tend to yellow quite rapidly which evens out the natural colour variations in timber but overall Bona Polyurethane varnishes are the best alternative to Hardwax Oil.

 

 

ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING

Engineered Wood Flooring is a relatively new product that is constantly gaining popularity. A good quality Engineered board would invariably be 21mm thick and has a multilayer construction - Base which is made of 3 to 12 perpendicularly running sheets of soft wood for stability and a solid top 5/6mm layer called Lamella glued onto the base. The result is a rigid board capable of withstanding changes in air humidity, room and subfloor temperature.
The best and most popular application for Engineered Wood Flooring is its use onto underfloor heating - water pipes set in a concrete slab.

 

There are several important aspects worth considering before deciding on an Engineered Timber floor:

 

- Price - similar to solid wood logic applies here with prices varying substantially between the different species. Oak is by far the most popular species with a huge offering of finishes. Engineered boards in Merbau, Walnut, Wenge, Jatoba an Teak are also available, some up to double the price of Oak.


- Style - Engineered boards most often come in planks. Parquet blocks and panels are increasingly made from Engineered as it provides better stability.


- Width - varying widths starting usually from about 100mm up to 260mm wide.


- Edging
a. Square Shouldered, forming one continuous flat surface - this is generally easier to look after and is better suited for modern homes. Engineered boards will usually be micro bevelled.
b. Micro Bevelled forming a V shaped groove on the surface. This gives the floor an authentic appearance and takes it back a decade or two by replicating natural wear on the edges. Suited for Character properties. The vast majority of Engineered boards are micro bevelled on all four sides.


- Quality of Manufacture - it is imperative that an Engineered boards is of good quality. The single greatest risk is the delamination of the Lamella - a regular occurrence with inferior products. A good floor is where the planks are of longer lengths (preferably same length within each pack), the floor must be dry with moisture content of less than 10% for most species. There must no deviations and warped planks but the planks must be straight when unpacked and join together easily without the need for excessive force.


- Special effects - various stains and textured finishes on the surface of the wood - consider these carefully as they are factory finishes which will disappear after the first sand and so this renders them temporary. There is a large number of "special floors" with various effects on the surface which come at a hefty price, perhaps unjustifiably so. We would advise against such floors as the continuation of the particular appearance cannot be guaranteed as it has been created in factory conditions. The best option is to work with an unfished board to which effects like staining or white washing can be applied on site . This has two main advantages, firstly the possibility for the finish to be re-created and secondly the fact that a floor finished on site would be sealed entirely unlike pre-finished floors where the joints remain vulnerable and will deteriorate at a much faster rate than the surface of the plank.


Durability - a proper 21mm thick Engineered floor will have 5/6mm clearance above the tongue and  the groove (identical for Solid and Engineered as only the space above the joints can be sanded) which would make it very durable indeed. A belt sander should never have to be used and such a floor should be maintained only by the use of an Orbital sander, cleaning the surface once in a while and re-coating (we are certainly talking of years, however it depends on how the floor is looked after).
e. Suitability - Engineered flooring is suitable for any room in the house. It will wear quicker in the Kitchen or the Lavatory without a doubt but is perfectly maintainable in any room. Ideal for use on underfloor heating. Stable and less susceptible to movement in comparison to Solid.


- Type of sealant -
a. Hardwax Oil (oil based) - Hardwax Oil has firmly established itself on the market in the past ten years thanks to its undisputed superior qualities - it preserves the natural colours in timber very well, it is very easy to maintain, does not become yellow, does not peel or flake. Above all, it enhances the natural beauty of wood better than any other sealant and it perfectly suited for domestic use.
b. Varnish (water based) - waterborne polyurethane varnishes are easy to maintain. They work by creating a thick plastic layer on the surface of the wood making them and ideal protection for commercially use floors. They tend to yellow quite rapidly which evens out the natural colour variations in timber but overall Bona polyurethane varnishes are the best alternative to Hardwax Oil.