Who doesn’t love beautiful wooden flooring. It looks great when it’s done well but there are some costly pitfalls to avoid. With thousands of products available at variable prices it’s tricky to know which to choose.
Hardwoods are popular choice in residential and commercial settings as we love the warm, natural feel they give. If you are contemplating hardwood floors during an interior design project, you will need to decide between the most suitable type, hardwood species and grade. Add to this the wide availability of colours, plank length and thickness and its no wonder that most people are confused! Jonathan Sapir of London based Wood and Beyond has kindly demystified the lingo for us.
Hardwood Flooring Types
There are offers two types of suitable floorboards. One is made from hardwood in its entirety, and the alternative is engineered; made from some hardwood and synthetics.
Solid Hardwood – These floorboards feature 100% hardwood end to end. This build means that the floor is especially strong resulting in lengthy service life. It can be sanded and re finished to keep it looking good over a long period of time. However it is unsuitable in wet or warm settings, so solid hardwood should not be fitted in a bathroom or over under floor heating.
Engineered Hardwood – These floorboards feature 10% to 20% hardwood positioned on the top. Below this you will find a core of softwood and synthetics such as MDF and plywood. Unlike the solid type, the engineered type can be fitted in all areas including over under floor heating and in wet areas, however service life may not be as lengthy – it depends on the thickness of the hardwood as to how many times it can be sanded and re finished.
Hardwood Flooring Species
The difference between softwood and hardwood is often misunderstood. Hard wood is made from slow growing trees, while soft wood is made from plants and fast growing trees. Over its lifetime, hard wood is exposed to the elements, which, unlink soft wood makes it strong and suitable for use in construction and fittings.
Common species include ash, birch, wenge, but more commonly you will come across walnut and oak floors. Oak comes in golden shades and tends to keep its colour over the years. In terms of walnut, american walnut will lighten and brazilian walnut will redden over the years. Almost any species of hardwood can have its colour altered using techniques such as whitewash to create white wood flooring or thermo oven baking to create black wood flooring.
Oak and walnut are not only suitable examples from durability and looks point of view, but more importantly these two are available from managed habitats in which trees are used based on an agreed quota and other trees are always planned instead. Just make sure that your vendor of choice has sourced the hardwood ethically by asking directly.
Hardwood Flooring Grade
Hardwood will present natural features such as Sapwood and knots. Their abundance in the floorboard is measured by grade.
AB Grade – Prime – Sapwood and knots are virtually non-existence. A pricey choice but if your interior requires a flat uniform look, it’s the answer.
ABC Grade – Select A premium grade, however this time random sapwood and knots may appear, thereby giving the unmistaken impression of real wood. The floorboards will match very closely in terms of shade.
ABCD Grade – Natural Various floorboards in one pack of ABCD grade will start to differ slightly in colour tone. As well, random sapwood and knots that are less than 30mm will appear.
CD Grade – Rustic or Country Colour variations between floorboards are plentiful and plenty of knots and sapwood are to be anticipated.
So the suitability for the room, finding the look that fits your concept and your budget are all deciding factors. As long as the choice is fit for purpose then the world of choice is open to you.
About Robertson Lindsay Interiors
Sally Homan (Design Director) is an associate of the British Institute of Interior design and has developed a stunning portfolio of beautiful homes across the UK. Her work has been featured in many interior design magazines and she prides herself of working with each clients personal tastes to create their dream home.
For more information or further examples of her work please contact Sally on 0131 629 1661 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org