Of the many flooring solutions that suit residential properties, few are as involving as wood flooring. The sheer amount of industry ‘buzzwords’ and technical descriptions often confuse homeowners, which is why we’ve teamed up with Jonathan Sapir to bring you this handy guide to understanding wood flooring. Jonathan is the MD of WoodandBeyond, a UK based hardwood supplier.
When choosing suitable floorboards, you should consider the following aspects: types of wood, the most suitable type, the grade of the wood, the finish of the floorboards.
Types of wood flooring
The wood flooring industry offers two very distinct types of floorboard, which makes wood flooring more versatile around your home.
- Solid Wood Flooring – each floorboard is made from 100% natural wood, typically hardwood as these are slower growing trees that are harder than softwood. Popular species of hardwood used in flooring include oak and walnut.
- Engineered Wood Flooring – each floorboards will also contain natural wood, however only as a top layer in thickness of 3mm to 6mm thick. Its backing contains manmade materials such as Plywood, MDF and even softwood. The use of natural wood as the top visible layer means that engineered floorboards look identical to solid when fitted.
Choosing the most suitable type of flooring
Of the two types, the solid option offers superior service life and you can sand and recoat the floor many times during its lifetime. It’s suitable for most interiors (natural wood does not cope well in humid and moist environments such as in the bathroom or kitchen areas) and in most properties from residential to commercial. It can however warp from excessive heat, for example, when fitted over under floor heating.
In these areas, engineered wood comes into its own as the manmade backing means that it can be fitted across the entire property, including over under floor heating. Engineered flooring may not share the same service life of solid flooring, however its versatility makes it the only choice when fitting wooden flooring in unusual circumstances where conditions prove challenging to solid wood.
All woods display features such as sapwood, knots, holes and colour variations. The presence of these natural features is based on the grade. Higher grades will display minimal colour variations, little or no sapwood and knots. Of course, lower grades will display the opposite including holes that are filled with black resin filler to create a smooth board. Grade is not an indication of quality, it’s simply a visual indication determined by the proximity of the wood to the centre of the log. Woods that have been sourced from the centre of the log are the higher grades and vice versa.
- Prime OR AB Grade – This is the highest grade so it’s also the dearest. Colour variation is minimal and so is the presence of sapwood and knots.
- Select OR ABC Grade – Also considered a type of high grade, you may start to notice random sapwood and knots in sizes of up to 20mm.
- Natural OR ABCD Grade – Colour variations, sapwood and knots of up to 30mm in size are to be expected as well as black resin used to fill holes in the wood.
- Rustic OR CD Grade – Significant colour variations and knots of up to 35mm are to be expected as well as sapwood and black spots from the resin filler.
Wood Flooring Finishes
The last consideration is the finish. This is a semi translucent layer that’s applied on the exterior of the floorboard to provide basic protection from wear and tear and help achieve a certain look. Wood flooring may come unfinished thereby allowing you to apply your finish of choice or more often it comes pre-finished based on combinations of lacquer and oil. The choice of finish, whether shiny or more natural, is completely your own.
While you can buy your wooden flooring at WoodandBeyond, here at Rated People you can find a local flooring fitter to help you with installing your wooden flooring. Simply post your job for free and receive up to three quotes.