Flooring solutions by their nature are susceptible to expedited wear due to abrasive nature of foot traffic. It is common to consider a new flooring solution during certain interior design projects and wood is a popular choice. In this article we will explain your options and considerations.
Your Choice Of Wood Flooring Technology
Potential clients often come across terms such as laminate wood, wood effect, engineered wood, real wood etc. and the differences between them are sometimes hazy. In reality, there are two types of ‘real wood flooring’ containing actual wood while the rest are simply synthetic options made to appear as wood.
Solid Wood Flooring – These are the most common real wood flooring to feature in residential homes. Each floorboard is made from complete wood such as Oak, Walnut and other popular species of hardwood. Their popularity originates from client’s ability to sand and re-coat the floor many times. Sanding is a far quicker (and cheaper) manner to revitalise an old looking floor compared to complete flooring replacement.
Engineered Wood Flooring – These are a fast growing alternative to the solid type. Each floorboard is made from an external upper layer of real wood, supported by additional layers of MDF, Plywood and Softwood underneath. Sanding and recoating is still achievable, however to a lesser extent. The reason behind the popularity of the engineered type is its flexibility in challenging environments.
Engineered wood can be fitted over under floor heating and in areas in which humid and wet conditions may thrive (a kitchen area for example). Solid wood will expand when temperature rises and contract when the temperature drops leading to possible damage. However, engineered wood flooring due to its non wood backing of Plywood, MDF and Softwood is unaffected by temperature changes, hence more suited in challenging environments.
Other options such as laminate wood and wood vinyl effect are not to be confused with real wood flooring. These are manmade alternatives that are made from materials such as plastic coreboard, vinyl and a decorative layer made to resemble wood. How close these boards are to resemble wood flooring will depend on the quality and brand.
The Latest In Wood Flooring Colours
Most clients associate gold and honey colours with wood flooring. In certain interiors these light colours are not always suitable. Dark colour woods make wood flooring suitable in a growing number of interiors. Most wood species naturally do not produce dark colours, therefore manufactures use clever techniques to alter the natural light colours of the floorboards.
Thermo Treated Wood Flooring – As the name suggests, the floorboards are subjected to intense heat. Heat and steam are used to alter the natural colour of the floorboards. No chemicals are used in the process.
Fumed and Smoked – These are chemically induced methods to darken the floorboards. Fuming works by placing the wood either in a closed tank or a sealed tent or container and adding ammonia. It is the effect of the ammonia in the air that causes the wood to darken.
Wood Flooring Finish
The final consideration is the your choice of suitable barrier. Each floorboard is covered in a clear chemical layer that is designed to offer basic protection. Without it, the floorboard will come in direct contact with the abrasive nature of foot traffic and will wear quicker. Common options are based on Oil or Lacquer type chemical.
Oil Finish Wood Flooring –The oil finish is the easiest to maintain and therefore the most popular. The oil flows into the wood’s fiber thereby proving durable and slower to wear. In terms of appearance, oil will not likely change the shade of the floorboard.
Lacquer Wood Flooring – This alternative finish maybe quicker to wear, but essential if the aim is to waterproof the floorboards. Unlike oil, the lacquer is thicker and therefore does not flow into the wood. Because it remains on the surface, it keeps water well away from the wood. However, its position also means that it comes in contact with foot traffic thereby proving quicker to wear. In term of appearance, lacquer often has a glossy or satin look to it.
The two finishes mentioned above are the direct replacements of the wax finish which is no longer used. Wax was known to attract dust and often made the floorboard slippery. Oil or Lacquer based finish are the latest that manufactures have to offer.
For information on interior design, contact Groves Interiors.Written by Jonathan Sapir who is the MD of WoodandBeyond ltd. London based timber seller offering wood flooring, decking and solid wood worktops.