If you’re planning a wooden flooring project, you’ll be forgiven for feeling that the whole thing is much more complicated than you’d ever expected! Many years ago, a wood floor was a wood floor. In this day and age, there are all different types of wood floor: engineered wood floor, solid wood floor, brushed and oiled wood floor, tongue and groove wood floor and so on. So, where do you start when you’re trying to work out which wooden for might be best for you?
The first question to ask is will the wood flooring be outside or inside. That might sound like an odd question, but outdoor wood flooring exists, in the form of decking. Decking, like flooring, comes in a whole range of options, which you’ll find explained here ( Hardwood or Softwood Decking?), but for the purpose of this article we’ll assume you’re undertaking an indoor wooden flooring project.
Solid or engineered?
One of the most fundamental decisions you’re going to have to make is the choice between solid and engineered wood flooring. In a nutshell, solid wood flooring is made from single planks of wood and engineered wood flooring is made of layers of different types of wood that are bonded together. You’ll find a complete, in-depth guide to what is engineered wood flooring.
Suffice to say that solid wood flooring is just what its name suggests, solid, wooden floorboards cut from solid pieces of the wood of your choice. Although the differences between engineered and solid wood flooring are quite significant, the one over-riding factor to bear in mind is that engineered wood flooring can be used in rooms where temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate, whereas solid wood shouldn’t. Also, if you have under floor heating, then engineered wood flooring is recommended over solid wood flooring.
Although you’ll find that plank widths, plank thicknesses and board lengths of both engineered and solid wood flooring vary, which you choose will depend to a large extent on the look and durability you want. When it comes to durability, solid wood is longer lasting than engineered wood flooring because it can be sanded, re-sanded and re-finished more often than engineered wood flooring. That said, an engineered board with a thick lamella or top layer should be able to withstand a good 5 or 6 sandings in its lifetime.
Both engineered and solid wood flooring come with different coating, or finishing options and some of the most common you’re likely to come up against are:
Unfinished wood flooring is wood flooring that is supplied without any finish. This is the perfect flooring solution if you’re seeking a blank canvas for your flooring project. That said, if you choose this option, do remember to budget for some sort of finish in your overall project costings.
Oiled finish wood flooring provides a warm, natural look. An oiled finish makes the real character of the wood stand out without any shine. A hardwearing option, thanks to the strength the oil brings to the wood, oiled finish wood flooring is ideal if you’re seeking to retain and enhance the natural good looks of the wood.
Brushed and oiled
Brushed and oiled finish flooring is wood flooring that has been brushed to open up the grain, and then oiled to create the finish. Brushing is carried out by machine and helps enhance the grain of the wood, giving brushed and oiled wood flooring a highly textured look.
Lacquered finish wood flooring is ideal solution if you’re looking for a low maintenance option. Essentially a pre-varnished flooring option, lacquered wood flooring normally results in a smooth, quite shiny finish although there are matt lacquers available. This option is ideal for high traffic areas of the home.
UV (or ultra violet cured) lacquered finish wood flooring is perfect if you’re worried about the negative effects on your floor caused by sunlight. With pretty much the same appearance as lacquered wood flooring, UV lacquered wood flooring has the added benefit of preventing any damage caused by UV light. This finish is well worth considering if you’re investing in a dark coloured floor.
Hand distressed finish wood flooring is wood flooring which has gone through a deliberate process of damaging to make it look old. This type of flooring has a worn, uneven, irregular look.
Once you’ve decided on the best finish for you, then you’ll need to consider the grade of wood which would best suit your project and, of course, your budget. Wood flooring falls into 4 grades:
- Prime or AB grade
- Select or ABC grade
- Natural or ABCD grade
- and Rustic or CD grade
Here are some of the characteristics of each grade:
- Prime Grade is the highest grade of wood flooring and is often described as AB-high grade. Cut from the centre of the log, this grade of wood is highly uniform in its appearance and has very few knots.
- Select Grade is the next grade of wood flooring. Often described as ABC grade, this wood contains some knots and some colour variation.
- Natural Grade comes next on the wood floor grading ladder. Often referred to as mill run or ABCD grade, this wood grade sports knots of up to 30mm in size, contains sap and has some colour variations.
- Rustic (or country style) is the final grade for wood flooring. As the name suggests, this grade of wood has colour variation, sap and typically has knots of up to 35mm in size.
Wood flooring colours range from pale blondes to black in its natural state and from reds, to greens, to blues and to yellows if you’re prepared to opt for artificially coloured options.
Natural wood flooring colours range from light maple and beech tones to walnut and ipe, which are almost black. The colour you choose will depend to a large extent on personal preference and the look you’re trying to achieve. Ironically, modern interiors might call for the lightest of woods or the darkest, whereas a country style or rustic interior design would normally involve a more golden, reddish colouration to complete the look. Irrespective of your choice, you can be sure there will be a wood flooring colour to meet your needs.Google+