You want timber floors but where do you start? We look at what’s available and in the shops now.
Solid wood is timber in its purest form, entirely cut from one piece of timber either soft or hard. There are countless finish options available for solid wood, using varnish, paint, lacquer and oil. It is the longest lasting floor type, but can be high maintenance as it will need to be refinished every five to eight years. Solid wood floors are not recommended for high moisture areas as they are very porous and will tend to warp over time, although this might be a desired effect. Fitting can potentially take longer as the boards will have to acclimatise.
Cost: Depending on quality, some bards are available from as little as 40 per square metre and up to €220 for more exotic and finely finished woods.
Engineered boards, or semi solid as it’s also known, is made up of around eleven layers of solid wood and laminate, with a top layer of about usually 6mm. It is more popular in a wider plank and often pre finished and can sometimes be suitable for high moisture areas, but talk to you supplier first.
Cost: Depending on the top layer, prices can start at €50 per square metre.
Parquet is made up of smaller blocks of solid wood to achieve an intricate pattern, such as herringbone or chevron, ideal for larger rooms. Labour costs are higher and lead times are longer for this type of floor, but the results speak for themselves. Like solid wood, these floors can last several life times and will age beautifully. The unique charm of parquet floors is that you can decide how simple or intricate you want your floor depending on taste and budget.
Cost: Around €50 per square yard for a basic block to around €250 for more intricate inlay styles, not including labour.
Salvaged boards are solid wood usually conserved from large industrial warehouses or sometimes dismantled railways sleepers. There are three types available; originally flooring (usually dating before 1920), a cut floor (from old beams or railway sleepers) and a wood block (normally around 12″ in length). Normally found in pitch pine or oak, salvaged boards are sought after for the worn in appeal. If buying from a reputable retailer, the boards will have been treated and ready to lay.
Cost: Dependent on species, quality, width and finish, prices can start at around €40 per square yard.
Laminate flooring is a high density fiberboard using either wholly synthetic materials or mixed with natural materials and covered with a decorative layer and melanin resin and can last up to 15 years. Make sure yours has a guarantee of no less than ten years. There are many effects available all designed to look like real wood and are either high, continuous or direct pressure laminate
Cost: From €7.99 per square yard
- Most solid woods will have to acclimatise to your home environment before they are laid. Coming from a cold warehouse they will expand with the heat in your house so it takes around two to six weeks for the boards to find their final size. Lay your boards too early and they will buckle.
Most boards are suitable for under-floor heating, including solid, engineered and laminates, although extremes of temperature can lead to warped boards (see acclimatisation). Your fitter should allow for expansion as the boards will always expend slightly with any heat.
- More homes are sealing their floors with oil, varnish/lacquer having been the more popular option until now. Oils needs to be redone more frequently but scratches show up less and it gives the floor a more natural glow. The traditional sealant for salvaged oak and elm is beeswax which can be homemade for the truly eco-conscious. Always clean the floor before finishing, keep in mind excess water can lift the grain. Decorative finishes include stained, painted, bleached or limed boards.
- Sustainable forestry has been on the ecological agenda for some time now is it is not difficult to buy conscientiously. It is advised to buy from suppliers who can trace the origins of their timber, which will be authorised by international sustainability agencies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Generally North America, Western Europe and Canada have good sustainability programs.
Source: House & Home