Wood Flooring, the basics. Belfast Architects A.L.D.A.

Wood Flooring, the basics. Belfast Architects A.L.D.A.

Wood Flooring, the basics.

Suitability of wood for flooring in a project revolves around practical constrains such as in which areas the floor will be fitted and also visual preferences relating to the finish and grade of the wood. In this guide and with the aid of visual examples, we aim to simplify the most recent trends that often confuse property owners. Get in touch with Belfast based A.L.D.A. Architects to discuss your project and suitability of various flooring solutions in greater length. For now, enjoy our outline guide to wood flooring.

Practical Constrains – Type of Wood

There are two types of wood flooring that suit both residential ; and commercial properties .

  • solid wood
  • engineered wood.

Though there are differences when fitted, the two types look  identical.

Solid Wood Floor .

The descriptive name ‘solid’ originates from the structure of the floorboard as it is made from one hundred percent natural wood. Other than a thin coating of finish on top of the floorboard (which we will get to in a moment) no other material besides wood is present. Of the two types, solid is by far the strongest, which equals a lengthy service life. In most cases it is therefore the preferred choice. However, natural wood and therefore solid wood floor isn’t suitable in humid areas such as the bathroom or kitchen or as a flooring solution on top of an existing under floor heating.

Figure1  Solid Wood Floorboard.

Engineered Wood Floor – This alternative was introduced to meet consumer demand that wished to benefit from wood across all floors in a property, including warm and humid areas. An engineered floorboard is made from a top solid wood layer called the ‘wear layer’ and up to four layers of artificial material such as Plywood and MDF below this layer of solid wood. When fitted, only the top solid layer is visible to the eye, which is the reason why both types look precisely the same once fitted.

Consumers who wish to fit wood in high humidity areas such as the kitchen, basement and bathroom areas can achieve this by fitting an engineered floorboard solution. However, service life will not equal to that of solid wood floors.

Figure 2  Engineered wood Floorboard.

Visual Preferences – Grade of Wood

Both solid and engineered types contain natural wood to a different degree. Wood contains visual marks such as Sapwood, Knots and variation in colour that are grouped by ‘grade’. The more refine grades will include less Sapwood, less Knots and display a more consistent look meaning less colour variation between the floorboards. Naturally, the lower grades will present the opposite features. Grade is merely an indication of visual marks and it does not equal to ‘quality’. There are four common grades that are used in the construction of solid and engineered floors.

Prime Grade – The highest and most expensive grade is ‘prime’. The floorboards are sourced close to the middle of the log, which equals uniform look.

Figure 3  Prime Grade.

Select Grade – Following the prime grade, ‘select’ is also considered a premium grade, though you should expect some sapwood and knots. The floorboards overall will display minimal colour variation.

Wood Flooring, the basics. Belfast Architects A.L.D.A.

Figure 4  Select-Grade.

Natural Grade – Also called country grade, the ‘natural’ grade will display sapwood and knots of various sizes. The floorboards may contain random colour variations.

Figure 5 Natural Grade.

Rustic Grade – For those wishing to achieve a rural look, rustic is unbeaten. The floorboards will include sapwood, knots and colour variations between the floorboards.

Figure 6  Rustic-Grade.

Visual Preferences – Finish of Wood

Wood floorboards are covered in a thin almost colourless layer that serves two purposes. It provides basic protection in an effort to reduce damage and helps achieve a desired look such as glossy or matt finish. It is often a question of taste and personal preference. The most common options are variants of oil and lacquered base materials.

Oil Finish – The most common is the oil option, which also gives the floors a matt look. It is a very popular finish in interiors aiming to achieve a classic look. The oil penetrates the wood and is slower to wear off. Care is easy, simply by coating the floors with suitable oil and a brush.

Figure 7  Oil-Finish.

Lacquered Finish – The lacquered finish does not penetrate the wood, so it will often be used in areas where water may present a problem. Strong lacquered can make the floorboard partially waterproof. It will give the floorboard a glossy or satin finish.

Figure 8.  Lacquered -Finish.

It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when fitting a wooden floor and check suitability of use for a specific location with the supplier or manufacturer.

Written by Jonathan Sapir managing director of wood flooring company Wood n’ Beyond for A.L.D.A. Architects.

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