Flooring solutions made of real wood are popular in all kinds of interiors whether residential, business or commercial. Nowadays, the rang of real wood floors is made up of two different floorboard constructions and potential owners are often unsure as to which floorboard is most suitable for their needs. Help is at hand in the form of our top tips for choosing real wood flooring.
Traditionally, real wood flooring was made entirely of wood. In recent years, a new type started to gain popularity. Called ‘engineered’ wood flooring this alternative is also made of wood, but in combination with manmade materials such as ply, mdf and even softwood. In certain conditions and in certain interiors, fitting an incorrect type could result in short service life and further expense.
The recommended solution by interior designers and contractors is to choose the floorboard type based on the project’s circumstances. Here’s a closer look at the two floorboards.
‘Solid’ Wood Flooring – This is the traditional floorboard made from 100% real wood such as Oak, Pine, Walnut and other hardwoods. Solid wood flooring suits most areas, with the exception for wet or very warm areas. In wet areas, such as the kitchen or bathroom, the floor might get wet which in turn will damage the wood. In warm conditions, such as areas that feature under-floor heating the floor might bulge from the heat. However, solid wood flooring is very durable and strong, and if the above restrictions do not apply in your project, it is a suitable solution.
‘Engineered’ Wood Flooring – This alternative is made from wood and manmade materials. The top layer, the one visible to the eye, is made from real wood. The layers below it are made from ply, mdf and softwood. This unorthodox construction results in a floorboard that can be fitted in all areas of the interior, even in wet or warm areas. Service life is slightly shorter, though, compared to the solid option. In most cases this isn’t a concern. However, business or commercial interiors that expect high levels of footfall often prefer the stronger solid type.
Other Aspects of Choosing Real Wood Floors
Once the decision has been made between engineered or solid wood flooring it is time to choose two aspects that make up the decorative side of the floorboard. One is the finish of the floorboard, the second is the grade of the floorboard.
Grade – Wood displays natural telltale features such as colour variations, sapwood content, knots, grain and figuring. Each of the four grade levels will display different density of these natural features so you are able to choose the right texture to match your interior. Prime and Select grades feature a uniform look in that colour variation is minimal and heavy features are muted. Natural and Rustic grades of wood flooring display plenty of natural features and colour variation is to be expected from end to end. There is no right or wrong when it comes to grade, simply a question of matching the right grade to the interior.
Finish – The floor’s finish is meant to create a lasting barrier of protection from minor damage and to give the floor a special look. Most common finishes are Oil or Lacquer based. Lacquer will result in a satin, maybe even glossy, finish. It is generally used in areas that feature high foot traffic or require protection from the sun. Oil will result in a matt finish. It is the best option for those who want to keep the natural look of the floor.