Wood flooring has the potential to completely transform any interior it is fitted in provided the wood compliments the area. Of the many flooring solutions that suit residential or commercial interiors, wood is one of the hardest to choose, simply because of the many variations and options that are available. Should you decide to fit wood floors in your project, your decision should be based on three main aspects of wood. These are:
- The construction type of the floorboard
- The grade of the wood
- The finish of the floor
Wood Flooring Floorboards
There are two variations of real hardwood floorboards. One is made of complete 100% natural wood, while an alternative is made from natural wood and artificial materials. The two look precisely the same when fitted, therefore you are correct to assume that the difference is more practical than a visual one.
Solid Wood Floorboard – Each plank of solid floorboard contains 100% natural hardwood such as Walnut, Oak and other common hardwood varieties. The strong solid wood core makes for a particularly durable floorboard, which in properties that experience high levels of foot traffic (commercial properties for example) makes for an obvious choice. On the other hand, it does share the natural potential of wood to damage in the face of wet conditions and to contract or expand in the face of temperature changes.
Engineered Wood Floorboard – Each plank is made from a top layer of natural hardwood in thickness of 3mm to 6mm thick. Below this layer, you will find on average between 3 to 7 layers of artificial materials such as Plywood, Softwood and MDF. The use of natural wood and artificial materials makes for a type of wood floorboard that can be fitted in wet areas such as the bathroom and kitchen areas as well as suitable for fitting over under floor heating. On the other hand, its service life and durability is not equivalent to that of solid wood.
The choice of solid or engineered construction depends on the area in which the floor is to be fitted as well as budget restrictions. Engineered wood is more affordable due to the marginal use of natural hardwood; hence on a tight budget it makes for a sensible choice.
Grade of The Wood
Both solid and engineered wood floorboards contain real natural wood. This natural wood varies in grade from the most refine grade of prime to the least refine grade of rustic. Grade is not to be mistaken with ‘quality’ it is merely a visual indication of aspects such as knots and sapwood.
Prime Grade – Wood of the prime grade is made from the finest timber. The planks are sourced from wood that was logged close to the centre of the tree, which will account for highly uniform look. There are no colour variations between the planks and insignificant knotting.
Select Grade – Wood of the select grade is also considered a type of high-grade wood. However, there might be some colour variations between the planks and small knots.
Natural Grade – It is a popular mid range grade, also known as ABCD grade. Wood of the natural grade will feature more prominent colour variations between the planks and bigger more uneven knots.
Rustic Grade – Also referred to as ‘country grade’, rustic grade is the ultimate choice for individuals looking for wood with a strong character. The planks will feature knots and plenty of sapwood and naturally colour variations between the planks will be quite significant.
The important thing when choosing grade is to decide whether the look of the grade will work with your interior. Of course, the higher the grade is, the more it would cost so budget is again a factor in your decision.
The Finish of The Floor
Regardless of the type (solid or engineered) and the level of grade, the planks must be coated in a transparent layer of oil or lacquered to provide a level of protection from wear and tear. At least that was true in the past… these days, suppliers are able to use various coating that not only offer protection, but can also colour the planks in the most unusual colours to match a bigger range of interiors.
Such colour selection means that you are no longer limited by a small number of shades, but wood can appear in light, bold or even dark colours.
Written for LUCIE SADAKOVA INTERIORS by online oak flooring seller Wood and Beyond. London based hardwood suppliers of engineered and solid oak flooring. Its woods are FSC approves and sources from managed habitats of responsible and approved forests.