Where should you start? Solid or engineered timber, classic Oak or glamorous Walnut, Reclaimed Pine or maybe an eye-catching exotic. There are plenty of choices to navigate in order to find the perfect floor to suit both your lifestyle and the needs of your home. Here are some things to consider:
The quickest way to establish what product you require is determining the structure of wood which best suits your property. As a rule of thumb, if you have neighbors living below you, or if you have underfloor heating, the best option would be an engineered board. These boards are more stable than solid planks and can be fitted over a sound reducing acoustic underlay and/or a radiant heat supply. Other conditions within a property may also influence this decision and it is always recommended to get advice from a flooring installation expert.
Species and Colour
We find that most clients do not approach a decision on their floor selection by choosing a species, yet this plays an important part in sustainability, manufacturing, and ultimately the appearance and longevity of a floor.
Think about the space and its dimensions, imagine how it will interact with a dark or light, plain or featured floor. Consider the amount of natural light and whether the selected colour or tone compliments your overall interior style, such as wall colour, kitchen cabinetwork, furniture etc. Light floors can make a space appear larger and airy, while darker flooring could make a room seem smaller.
The grade of a wood floor typically refers to the amount and size of visible knots, coloration and other natural marks and features yet does not impact on the quality of the product. Cleaner, less knotty grades are usually more expensive than the knottier grades as a typical tree will produce a smaller percentage of this grade.
For more contemporary or minimalistic looks opt for the cleaner grades, while the knottier grades offer a more natural and rustic look at an affordable price making them a favourite for family homes.
Plank size depends on the type and species of flooring selected, Oak will provide the largest size diversity as it is typically available in small parquet blocks, 4m long planks and most sizes in between.
"The basic rule-of-thumb is, the higher the ceilings - the wider the boards" suggests Jeandré, Ecora's Sales Director. "For clients looking for wide planks I usually recommend our 180mm - 220mm wide boards. They are typically a good width for most property types and can be supplied with contemporary or more traditional finishes - without breaking the bank".
Do you like it, and will you keep on liking it?
Wood is a great investment for any property as it instantly adds value and character. Be guided in your decisions by a flooring expert but choose a timber that will appeal to you long term. Over time a wood floor becomes part of your home and grows more beautiful with age. “There is something about walking on hardwood floor that is just so luxurious,” Jeandré says. Don’t forget many wood companies will provide samples so you can test the feel and finish of different woods in your home, and specialist suppliers such as Ecora will match samples and source a specified wood.
Wooden flooring today comes in all shapes and sizes and the finishes available have also evolved over the years. In addition to protective coatings like lacquer and wax oils, traditionally applied over the unfinished wood, manufacturers use a wide variety of methods to bring out the beauty of the natural grain, change its colour and/or enhance its finish.
Unfinished flooring can go through processes like Brushing, which creates a textured surface using roller brushes or Distressing, a process of tumbling wood planks in large tanks with metal objects to provide random dents and scrapes, making the planks appear old and used. Other processes like staining or colour enhancing methods such as oxidation are used to change the colour and appearance, mainly in Oak. By combining several of these methods manufacturers can produce unique surfaces, that once protected with a a flooring finish, provide beautiful and durable surfaces.
Choosing the floor with the right treatment and finish from a wide selection should depend on the look you are trying to achieve, the type of environment the flooring will be used for and the amount of periodical maintenance you are prepared to take-on.