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Wood flooring: your guide

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It's practical, stylish and durable, but what type of wood flooring is right for your project?

Timber is a tried and trusted flooring option for homeowners looking for a beautiful and durable finish. But how do you choose the right style and type for your home? Explore the different options in our handy guide.

Solid wood

Solid timber boards tend to be the most expensive wood flooring option, but well worth the spend as it’s difficult to match its warmth and beauty with anything else. It’s durable and suited to most areas of the home, except the bathroom, where changes in heat and moisture can make the boards swell or shrink.

Solid wood can be separated into two categories: hardwood, such as oak or teak, and softwoods, such as pine. Softwood is less resilient to damage, whereas hardwood is stronger and tougher. According to Jason Ashby at UK Flooring Direct you’re looking at prices ranging from £16 to £40 per m2 for solid wood.

Generally, timber is graded by the clarity of grain. A knotted and pronounced appearance is classified as rustic and a more refined grain is considered to be classic. Although according to Jason this is more a mark of style, rather than quality. “Rustic grade floors provide a traditional country appeal, whereas premium grades offer a contemporary alternative,” he says.

Engineered wood

“Engineered flooring is an ideal option for most homes,” says Jason. “It’s more stable than solid wood and with a natural appeal to rival it, it’s a good-looking solution for the home and certainly less complex to fit than solid wood. What’s more, because it’s more stable you can get longer and wider boards, so there is more variety in the different looks you can achieve.”

The difference is their ‘sandwich’ construction. This consists of a top layer of high quality wood, which is generally 2-4 mm thick, which is glued to bottom layers of softwood or ply laid tangentially to each other. It possesses a natural quality, because of the real wood grain, but tends to be cheaper than solid wood boards. Prices vary from £12 to £30 per m2.

Reclaimed wood

Using reclaimed wood, essentially recycling, is thought to be an eco friendly option. What’s more, the boards will have already acquired lots of character over the years – so they can be a really beautiful option, too. However, it may take a bit of hard graft to restore them. If you select reclaimed, always buy extra. It’ll be hard to find something to match if you need to replace any of the boards at a later date.

Bamboo

It’s available in both solid and engineered constructions. As bamboo is a fast growing grass, it can be sustainably harvested making it a natural choice for homes concerned with the environment. “It’s more resistant to moisture than solid wood and less susceptible to changes in humidity, so it’s perfect for use in the bathroom,” says Jason. Prices work out at around £21 per m2.

Trends

“There has been a shift towards monochromatic tones with greys, whites and blacks on the rise,” says Jason. Peter Keane at The Natural Wood Floor Company agrees, “The big trends for this year are soft silvers, whites and greys with an antiqued effect. The sophisticated shades can be used to complement both classic and contemporary interiors,” he says. “The desire for open plan living and kitchen diners has also fuelled the demand for wider boards. We make them in 240mm widths now. They create a stunning floor which seamlessly unifies different zones in the house,” he says.

Maintenance

Wood flooring ages beautifully and a few scratches and dents will only add character.

“On average, both solid wood and engineered flooring can last 30 years or more as long as you keep it in good condition and care for it properly,” says Jason. To keep it maintained and help it last longer you need to sand the boards down and resurface every six or seven years for solid wood and every 10 years for engineered. Bear in mind engineered flooring can only endure two sandings.

Vacuuming daily to remove damaging grit and dirt and using manufacturer recommended cleaning products that won’t stain or mark the surface is essential, too.

Sustainability

Timber flooring is accepted to be ecologically friendly as long as the wood is responsibly sourced from sustainable forests – so always make sure your supplier is an FSC accredited retailer. Alternatively, if you want to be extra eco conscious, Jason suggests installing bamboo or cork flooring. “They’re both fast to grow so the forests can be replenished quicker and managed better in comparison to a hardwood.”

Photo: Jeremy Phillips

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