Wooden flooring has always been a go-to staple for the family home – any spillages and there’s no scrambling around for the vanish. It’s strong, easy to maintain, looks great and provides a solid backdrop for the rest of your interior decor. Yet, wooden flooring can be an overwhelming world to navigate.
Flooring is an important decision, not one to be rushed. Taking into account the money side of things and the sweat it takes to install wooden flooring, it isn’t something you want to rip out and go back to the drawing board with straight away. Nor is it something you want to put up with for 10+ years if you then realise it isn’t for you.
It’s important to get it right the first time. Besides from the obvious aesthetics and design to consider, there are many things which people often don’t take into mind. Things like durability, the actual room the wood is going to be in, the type of wood, the fitting and the maintenance. These are all characteristics of wooden flooring which are important to get right the first time, as you’ll be stepping and sliding on them for some time.
Allow Criterion Flooring to take you through a little guide on everything to consider when choosing which type of wooden flooring is right for you and your home.
Solid wooden flooring
100% natural, untreated wood is available in 15, 18 or 20mm thickness’. The thicker the wood, the greater its longevity. A wooden floor with a thickness of 20mm would last almost a lifetime. If over time, the flooring begins to darken or fade, then re-sanding will return the wood to its original state. Bear in mind, that sanding will usually take off about 1.5mm off the surface. You will be able to sand a 20mm thickness floor 4-5 times.
Natural wood needs to acclimatise to the humidity of your home. This takes around 7-10 days depending on the thickness, however, this isn’t too long to wait considering it will likely be installed for a number of years. The reasoning for this is because wood can swell. Natural wood is kiln dried at around 9-11% humidity, so if your home has approximately 15% humidity, you’d need to ventilate or air your home to get closer to 9-11%. Over the next 7-10 days, you’d need to keep your home around 18-20% to match the humidity for the natural wood. The wooden floor needs to breathe, or else it can swell or come up.
Phew that’s a bit technical isn’t it?!
Engineered board is a solid wood veneer bonded with multiple layers of plyboard. Some benefits of engineered board compared to solid wood flooring are that it stabilises more quickly and doesn’t move as much as untreated wood. It is also more water resistant to solid wood.
Engineered board settles in the home much quicker than natural wood, taking roughly 48 hours.
Wood laminate flooring
One of the benefits of wood laminate flooring is that it can be up to 50% cheaper than real wood. It is an imitation of real wood and is made of high-density fibreboard. It’s very easily maintained. As long as the flooring is regularly cleaned with a damp mop and a hoover used to keep off any dust or grit which could grind away the surface over time, then the laminate should last.
Wooden floors are great when it comes to aesthetic value. They are very versatile and can adapt to a number of different rooms and decors. However, for the colouring of your flooring, there is more you should consider than just aesthetics.
Honey-toned flooring creates a warm, homey feel in a room. As well as being relaxing and traditional, it is also brilliant at disguising dirt and stains compared to lighter or darker shades. This makes it a fantastic option for high-traffic rooms or busy rooms, for example, the front hall or kids playroom.
Paler, lighter shades of wooden flooring are more suited to quieter rooms as they show up dirt more easily. They are also fantastic at enhancing space, making them great for smaller rooms.
Darker shades of wooden flooring can show scratches more clearly than lighter shades. If you want a contemporary, professional look, darker floors are fantastic for creating a chic feel and contrast lighter decor and furniture nicely.
Adding varnish, oil or paint to your wooden flooring gives that finishing touch and goes a long way in preserving the quality and longevity of your wood.
You can buy either finished or unfinished wood for your home. Pre-finished wood will keep its colour and texture for a number of years, however, if you are undecided whether to apply varnish, oil or paint to your wood, it may be worth purchasing unfinished, then testing each to see your preference.
Both varnish and oil are good protectors for your wood, without sacrificing appearance. A varnish finish is more durable than oil but gives a shinier finish. Oil gives a more subtle natural appeal however is not as scratch resistant as varnish. It depends on how practical you deem the surface needs to be.
Paint also adds to the durability of the wood, however, isn’t as resistant as varnish and oil. You do, however, have more freedom and options colour wise. Matt or gloss finishes are available whether you want to go for looks or durability, or perhaps opt for a mid-sheen finish for a compromise.
Style & design
Other than colour and finish, there are more aesthetic features to consider when choosing wooden flooring. The size and shape of wooden floorboards can enhance the features and feel of a room.
If you desire a more vintage, traditional look, narrower boards are more suitable than wider ones. Perhaps consider parquet for a classic, chic look. It adds personality and texture to any room with its varying colour tones and short, sharp herringbone patterns. It’s best to use in a room with less furniture however to draw more attention to it.
For smaller rooms, wider, longer floorboards can enhance space and make the room feel bigger, due to the simplicity and more open look.
Solid wooden floors can be a high maintenance option for a kitchen. If you’re hoping for wooden floors rather than stone or tile, then engineered flooring would be more suited to the kitchen.
Engineered wooden flooring may still get the odd scratch and stain over time, however, it can still be maintained easily and effectively, compared to solid wood. A sanding and re-oil every few years will help keep it in top condition in the busy confines of the family kitchen.
The living room
Living room flooring really does come down to personal preference. Some may like the softness of a carpet under their feet, others prefer the authenticity and stableness of wood. Even solid wood flooring with a rug is an effective compromise.
Wooden flooring in the living room is very easy to maintain. There’s less happening than in the kitchen, which means whether you want to opt for solid wood, engineered wood or vinyl, any of these can be easily maintained and damage free for years. Stains and spillages can simply be wiped off easily as opposed to carpets. If installed and insulated properly there’s no need to worry about drafts either.
Solid wood has the more vintage and authentic feel, however, this does depend on the budget. It can be worth the investment though due to its longevity, as a thick wood will last over 20 years if looked after properly. Engineered wood and laminate flooring are cheaper than solid wood, and due to technological advancements, can look and feel as authentic as 100% solid wooden flooring.
Similar to the living room, this usually comes down to aesthetic choice and personal preference. Solid wood flooring can look great in the master bedroom, and provide a solid backdrop to bring the room together depending, on the rest of the decor. Solid wooden flooring holds the greater appeal aesthetically and physically.
If this flooring is for a child’s bedroom, however, laminate flooring may be more appropriate. It is easy to clean and maintain against spillages and dirt. Also, any scratches which appear after playtime can be cheaply and easily covered up, compared to solid wood and engineered flooring.
Bathroom flooring should be able to withstand high levels of moisture and humidity, and ideally be slip resistant and easy to clean. These properties may not scream out wooden flooring at first, yet there are alternatives to classic ceramic tiles.
Engineered timber is water and moisture resistant enough to endure years of steaming hot showers and bubble baths. Solid timber is not as enduring in this environment, yet engineered timber is quickly becoming a great alternative to porcelain and ceramic tiling. However, it’s not completely water-resistant, any major spills should be mopped up quickly and you should avoid leaving wet towels on the floor for too long. Bummer.
One of the busiest rooms in the home. You could pick any of solid, engineered or laminate flooring for the front hall. If you have a busy family home and are worried about muddy shoes and pet paws scampering about the place after bursting through the front door, any of these 3 options will withstand mud and stains easily, they can simply be wiped away. Your pet’s claws shouldn’t do too much damage either, however resanding and oiling every few years will take care of any long-term wear. It comes down to budget and preference.
When it comes to underfloor heating, wooden floors are very effective. It’s a much better conductor of heat than stone and carpet. Some types of wooden flooring, however, are more effective than others.
Engineered wooden flooring is the most effective option when it comes to underfloor heating, as it’s much more resistant to drastic temperature changes. Thinner, denser boards, are the quickest conductors of heat, preferably dried down to at least 8% moisture content. Laminate flooring is also suitable for underfloor heating.
Solid wood flooring does not conduct heat as well as engineered flooring does and can move and warp when exposed to underfloor heating. Some thicker softwoods in fact reflect the heat completely.
Fitting wooden flooring depends on a number of circumstances. Things like budget, time & DIY skills.
Solid wood and engineered flooring can be difficult to install, so it may be worth paying for a professional to do this. It needs to be fixed to the ground underneath using glue or pins.
Laminate wood flooring and some cheaper engineered floorboards aren’t as difficult to install on your own. Most laminate boards can simply be clicked into place, there is no need to glue or nails.
Maintaining the wood
One of the main benefits of wooden flooring is that it is easy to clean and can be effectively maintained to improve its longevity.
All wooden flooring can be cleaned effectively with a damp mop. It’s best to try and do so once a week, and without using any chemicals if possible, to reduce any damage to varnish or oils.
Harder wood is more scratch resistant than softer woods, even more so if it has been oiled or varnished. Over time however wood will begin to fade and show scratches and stains. This can be resolved easily enough however when it comes to solid wooden flooring and engineered flooring. Simply resanding and refinishing the surface will make it good as new. You should be able to do this to solid wooden flooring as many times as you like, engineered wooden flooring, however, will depend on the thickness. Laminate flooring cannot be sanded down at all.