Wooden floor­ing EX­PLAINED

We de­mys­tify the many dif­fer­ent op­tions now avail­able, from hard­wood and en­gi­neered to lam­i­nate and par­quet

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Flooring Guide -

What are the dif­fer­ences be­tween solid wood, en­gi­neered and

lam­i­nate floor­ing? En­gi­neered floor­ing con­sists of lay­ers of ply that have been bonded to­gether with a top layer of solid wood. The ad­van­tage of en­gi­neered floor­ing rather than solid wood is that it has less ten­dency to ex­pand and con­tract – mean­ing that it can be used with un­der­floor heat­ing and in ar­eas where mois­ture and tem­per­a­ture lev­els may vary, such as bath­rooms or kitchens. ‘Also, no pre-fit­ting ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion pe­riod is needed, un­like solid boards that have to sit for a min­i­mum of a week on site be­fore fit­ting,’ adds Daniel Bloom, co-founder of Ecora. Another op­tion is lam­i­nate floor­ing, which is made from a com­pressed fi­bre­board plank cov­ered by a pho­to­graphic im­age of wood, with a pro­tec­tive over­lay. Should I con­sider us­ing re­claimed wood? Ab­so­lutely! ‘The charm of a re­claimed wood floor is hard to de­fine and im­pos­si­ble to repli­cate,’ en­thuses Robert Walsh, founder of Ted Todd. ‘ Wood floor­ing that has been crafted from re­claimed wood, whether en­gi­neered or solid, not only gives the tim­ber a new lease of life, but also pre­vents the need for more trees to be har­vested, so has the low­est en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of any floor­cov­er­ing.’ What are the op­tions for fix­ing wooden floor­ing to­gether?

Tongue and groove is the most tra­di­tional type of floor fix­ing. The tongue (a pro­trud­ing edge) fits into a per­fectly sized gap (the groove) to al­low two planks to slot to­gether; it is se­cret nailed, se­cret screwed (the nail or screw goes through the tongue and is not vis­i­ble from the sur­face), glued directly onto the sub­floor, or can be floated over an un­der­lay. Mod­ern click-fit wooden boards, where two planks fit to­gether and au­di­bly ‘click’ into place, are eas­ier and quicker to in­stall, but are not suit­able for solid wood floor­ing. How are in­tri­cate par­quet floors laid? From the mid­dle of the room, work­ing out­wards. The most pop­u­lar pat­terns are her­ring­bone, brick bond and di­ag­o­nal bas­ket weave. Your cho­sen pat­tern does not af­fect the in­stal­la­tion method. It is im­por­tant to leave a gap of around 12mm around the edge of the room (which will be cov­ered by skirt­ing), so that the par­quet can ex­pand if nec­es­sary. What about fin­ishes? Be­fore choos­ing a fin­ish for your wood, think about the look you are try­ing to achieve, the en­vi­ron­ment the floor will be used in and the amount of main­te­nance you are pre­pared to take on. ‘For high-traf­fic ar­eas, go for a lac­quered fin­ish, which re­quires vir­tu­ally no main­te­nance,’ ad­vises Ecora’s Daniel Bloom. ‘The draw­back is that scratches are hard to mask and the floor will typ­i­cally re­quire a full sanding af­ter about seven to ten years.’ Scratches on oiled floors are eas­ier to main­tain by ap­ply­ing a new coat ev­ery year or so. Also con­sider colour. ‘The spec­trum of shades you can achieve with tra­di­tional oils is lim­ited, es­pe­cially when clients are look­ing for dif­fer­ent mod­ern tones, such as grey. In the­ory, any colour can be achieved with a var­nish or lac­quer,’ ad­vises Dar­ren Hop­kins, founder of Root Lon­don. Any other op­tions? As well as lac­quer and oils, un­fin­ished wood can go through var­i­ous pro­cesses such as brush­ing – where the planks are roller brushed dur­ing the manufacturing process to cre­ate a tex­tured sur­face that high­lights the grain – and dis­tress­ing, which adds ex­tra marks so the wood ap­pears older than it is.

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