Wood Flooring

by Scott Edwards

The popularity of solid wood flooring has increased dramatically since laminate flooring burst onto the market some years ago. Until fairly recently, solid wood floors were only seen in large traditional houses, stately homes and generally much older buildings, such as golf clubs. However, once laminated flooring became a popular choice in residential dwellings, it was only a matter of time before the solid wood floor would again be fashionable.

Our modern preference of open space living, minimalist contemporary concepts, and the appeal of natural materials has certainly assisted the growth of the solid wood flooring market. As a result, the ease of availability and healthy competition has also made the product an affordable option for the majority of people.

Oak is by far the most popular choice. In fact there’s probably more of that one species sold than all others combined. Oak has always been a timber held in high regard for a large range of products besides flooring. So it comes as no surprise that it would be the number 1 solid wood flooring choice for the general population. This timber has high character, durability, and is one of the most forgiving of surface markings. In contrast, a darker timber such as American black walnut, although beautiful, will show almost every single mark and require the utmost of care.

The one problem with solid wood flooring however, is it’s susceptibility to temperature changes. Therefore, its use in houses with under floor heating is just not possible. The increase in temperature will encourage the timber to expand and inevitably burst at one or more joint locations. Fortunately there is an option that alleviates this hurdle. Engineered flooring is a combination of fibre or chipboard with a layer of solid wood flooring on top (Usually around 6mm / ¼ of an inch) worth. This reduced amount of solid timber stops the expansion, allowing it to be placed in modern buildings with under floor heating. Another advantage for new build projects is that there are engineered floors that can be fixed directly to joists, but the lower content of solid timber in an engineered floor does not necessarily mean that it will be cheaper.

There is now an enormous range of solid wood and engineered flooring to choose from, with every finish from completely natural to a high shine polish. The majority of these can also be sourced in a variety of widths. The larger widths and thicker sections also carry the greater cost.

It’s important to strictly follow installation guides for all wood flooring. Most timber and engineered floors require an expansion area around the outer edges. This is achieved by either removing and replacing the skirting boards, or, leaving a gap which can then be covered by a beading trim. Some floors require their joints to be glued. Others are nailed along the tongue to a board beneath. Installing the floor using a wrong method or missing a step in the process will almost always result in problems arising fairly quickly. Always consult your supplier and manufacturers for installation guidelines, or employ the services of a professional to carry out the work.

A good quality solid wood floor will last a lifetime. Unlike carpets, you can sand over the surface and re-treat the area to reinvigorate at any time.

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