Wood flooring are a sought-after flooring solution in residential and commercial properties alike. When an architect approves wood flooring for your property there are often many considerations that have been taken into account prior to this approval because flooring made of wood do not fit every property or more often do not fit every single room within the property. Because of its complete natural construction, wood reacts to variations in temperature as well as disliking wet conditions. 

When recommending a suitable wood flooring solution for your project, a contractor will carefully evaluate the type of wood and the finish. 

Wood Type

There are two construction types of wood flooring. The traditional type called ‘real wood flooring’ though its industry term is solid wood flooring and an alternative construction called engineered wood flooring. When fitted, both look precisely the same, though here ends the similarity between the two. 

Solid Wood Flooring – Each plank is made from solid hardwood such as Oak, Walnut and other popular hardwoods. It means that the planks are extremely well built and can offer over 100 years of service life. Solid wood flooring would have suited most builds if it weren’t for two natural properties of wood. When the temperature rises wood expands and when it drops wood contracts. In areas that experience severe changes in temperature or have under floor heating installed, solid wood is not recommended, as these conditions will bring an expedited wear and tear. If such conditions are of no consequence, solid wood should be considered first.

Engineered Wood Flooring – Each plank is made from a 3mm to 6mm layer of solid wood supported by three to four layers of syntactic material such as MDF, Plywood and Softwood. This varied construction means that unlike solid wood the floor can be fitted all around the property, even in the kitchen and bathroom areas and of course over under floor hearing, however service life will never match that of a solid wood plank.  Furthermore, sanding (a process that can rejuvenate old looking tired wood) is limited in the number of times this can be repeated during the service life of the engineered plank based on the thickness of the solid layer. 

Wood Plank Finish

Regardless of the construction type, each plank should be coated in a later 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. 

Wood flooring will suit a whole host of properties and areas. It is important to consider your various options with a professional contractor to avoid a costly mistake.

Contact Architect Devon Jonathan Braddick, RIBA for more information. 

Information on wood flooring by Wood and Beyond. London based Timber Company offering engineered wood flooring, solid wood flooring, decking and worktops.