Wooden floors have been around for many years and can be seen across a wide range of properties, from commercial properties to residential homes. If you are contemplating wood as your flooring solution during a home improvement or renovation project, you will soon come across many industry terms and buzz words that might seem confusing at first. At Bright Green Homes we have prepared a guide to wood flooring that will explain your options and considerations.
Environment Friendly Wood Flooring Overview
There are two methods to ensuring that your decision to purchase wood flooring does not endanger the habitat of other species. Wood is a natural product that is strong and durable enough be reclaimed. Reclaimed wood flooring is a type of floorboard that has been used already in another property and you will be the second person to have the same floorboard fitted. Because the wood has been harvested already, there is no negative impact on the environment by re-fitting the wood in another location. Reclaimed wood flooring is hard to come by and will often cost four or five times the cost of normal floorboards. A more affordable option is to fit floorboards that have been ethically sourced. The most common form of responsible fitted wood flooring is sourcing the wood from sellers who adhere to a strict ethical policy and brandish the FSC certificate of approval. Stands for ‘Forest Stewardship Council’, sellers who are FSC certified has been credited for sourcing their woods from managed forests in which trees are replenished and than ethically transported.
Environment Friendly Wood Flooring Types
There are two completely different types of wood flooring in the market. Fitting the incorrect one will prove an expensive mistake, as you would require new wood within a matter of months. The first type is referred to as ‘solid’, whilst the second is referred to as ‘engineered’.
Solid Wood Flooring – Made from complete 100% natural wood, these are also the most widely fitted type. Each board is made from hardwood such as Oak, Walnut and other tree species that are known to offer long durability.
Pros – The complete wood construction of the boards makes this wood flooring solution long lasting. With the appropriate level of care, the boards can exceed 100 years of service life. Don’t just take our word for it, look at historical homes that often feature solid wood all around.
Cons – The complete wood construction means that the boards inherit two features of natural wood when it comes into contact with wet conditions or extreme temperatures. When conditions warm up, wood expands and when conditions cool down, wood contracts. This natural property of all solid woods makes solid wood flooring unsuitable in parts of the build (kitchen, bathroom, certain extensions etc) and of course completely unsuitable should you have underfloor heating fitted.
Engineered Wood Flooring – Made from some wood (a top layer of 3mm to 6mm thick), the vast majority of the board is made from syntactic materials. The use of solid wood as the top layer supported by the syntactic materials means that when fitted, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish which type has been fitted.
Pros – The varied construction of the board means that you can fit them freely all around the build (with the exclusion of outdoors) including over underfloor heating. UFH system (under floor heating) uses either hot water or electricity to create the warmth you feel above the planks. A board made of solid wood will expand as a result of this heat and contract when the UFH is switched off. After a while and as a result of expanding and contracting, the board will damage beyond repair. Engineered boards are also easier to fit using floating installation, which can bring down the total cost of the build.
Cons – The varied construction of the board means that service life will never exceed or even match that of solid wood flooring. Furthermore, sanding wood flooring (a process that can make ‘old’ looking wood floors look freshly fitted) is limited in the amount of times the process can be done and is based on the thickness of the solid layer. Solid wood flooring can be sanded many more times over the lifetime of the board.
Choosing A Finish
Regardless of the construction type, each plank should be coated in a layer of finish that acts to seal the wood and offer some level of protection. Without such protection, you can expect a much shorter service life. The finish of choice is often a compromise between the decorative side and the practical side.
Decorative finish – In recent years, dark woods have grown in popularity. The dark shade is archives using techniques such as thermo heating or wood colouring, as there are no dark trees of course.
Practical finish – There are a number of coatings that serve a purpose. Lacquered for example sits on the top surface of the wood and acts to repel water so would often be used on wood flooring that is fitted in the bathroom or kitchen area. Oil finish is the easiest to maintain so would often be used in commercial properties where long downtime or closure for maintenance is not an option.
If you are consideration fitting wood flooring, talk to Bright Green Homes to avoid costly mistakes.