Veneer Flooring - Complete Buyers Guide
Veneer flooring is made up of a highly stable core board created by bonding layers and layers of ply together. That core board is then topped off with a solid wood top layer or lamella. And it’s that hardwood veneer that makes this product look so good and gives rise to the name veneer flooring.
Why is veneer flooring such a good idea?
Veneer flooring is really popular and is a great idea because it is much more stable than solid wood flooring. Solid wood is a natural product and as such expands and contracts when it is exposed to temperature or moisture fluctuations. Although a certain amount of expansion and contraction isn’t a problem for a wooden floor, when it becomes excessive, in the likes of kitchens or bathrooms, it can lead to unsightly gaps and even warping and cupping.
One of the greatest things about veneer flooring is that you can use it without fear throughout your entire home. It will stand up to challenging environments such as bathrooms and kitchens and can even be fitted over under floor heating, which makes it a really versatile choice.
Choosing the right grade
When wood is lumbered, it is graded into one of four grades depending on the number of knots that are visible, the consistency of its colour and the amount of sap it has. Although sap often can’t be seen, it’s in the wood and affects the grade any wood will ultimately be classed as.
The four wood grades are prime, select, natural and rustic. Prime wood, which is normally amongst the most expensive, has only a very small number of very small knots and a highly consistent colour. Rustic wood on the other hand has a large number of big knots and inconsistent colour. Select and natural are between the two. It’s worth being aware that prime grade wood tends to be the most expensive and rustic the cheapest, but this isn’t always the case.
The thing about wood grades is that higher grades such as prime and select aren’t necessarily better than natural or rustic, they just look different. So when it comes to choosing the right veneer floor for your project, you should choose the grade you like best and that suits your budget.
Choosing the thickness of wear layer or top layer
When it comes to choosing the right thickness for the top layer on your veneer floor, the overriding factors to take into account are footfall and whether or not you’re likely to want to re-sand and re-finish your floor in the future.
If you live in an environment where there is likely to be heavy or high footfall, it’s best to choose a veneer floor with a thick-ish top layer eg. 6mm. That way you can be confident that the floor will stand up to whatever your lifestyle throws at it. It will also be able to be re-sanded and re-finished, to bring it back to looking new at least a couple of times in its life.
Choosing the right board thickness
Veneer floors range from around 14-20mm thick on average. If you are laying a veneer floor on top of another floor, you will be able to get away with a thinner board because your new floor will be supported by the old floor. If, however you’re laying your new floor over joists, you should always choose a thicker board because your new floor is effectively becoming part of the structure of the room and needs to be strong enough to support the weight of people and furniture.
The other thing that will impact on which board thickness you choose is whether or not you have under floor heating. Generally speaking it is the thinner end of the spectrum that is recommended for fitting over under floor heating because it allows more efficient passage of heat. That said, it is always best to check with the manufacturers recommendations before making a final choice.
Choosing your finish
Most people opt for a pre-finished veneer floor because it saves time and mess in the home after the floor has been laid. The most popular finishes are oiled and lacquered. There are various types of oil and lacquer, but generally speaking an oiled floor will have a more natural, less shiny finish than a lacquered floor. If your house is particularly sunny, you should choose a finish with a UV filter to protect your floor from the harmful effects of the sun.
Lacquered or hardwax oiled finishes are generally best in bathrooms and kitchens where the risk of spills and water damage are at their greatest. This is also the case in hallways where there is a risk of dirty feet coming in from outside the home.
Some veneer floors are left unfinished and this is a great idea for people who have a problem visualising their new floor in place. If you are struggling to imagine what your floor will look like in place and don’t want to commit to a finish before you see it, then an unfinished option is a great idea.
If you’re on the lookout for the right veneer flooring for your project, we hope this buyer’s guide has helped. But if you still have questions, don’t struggle on alone – why not get in touch? We can help you make sure that the choices you make are the best – for now and for the future.