Of the many fixtures and elements found in residential and commercial properties, flooring solutions are particularly susceptible to expedited wear due to the abrasive nature of foot traffic. Carpets for example have an expected service life of 8 to 10 years while laminate flooring will average 15 to 25 years before requiring a replacement. Therefore it is quite common to replace an old flooring solution during an interior design project to rejuvenate the interior.

Of the many flooring solutions on the market, wood is considered the most challenging to choose correctly because of the closely related variants of wood. Typical considerations that property owners have to consider vary from the type of property (commercial vs. residential) to the type of area within the property. In this guide we explain some of these considerations when choosing wood flooring, widely regarded as one of the most luxurious flooring solutions around.

Wood Flooring Variants:

There are two types of wood flooring variants that meet the definition of ‘real wood flooring’. One is made entirely from wood, while a close alternative is made from wood and artificial materials ‘mixed’ together.

Whole Wood Flooring – This option is called ‘solid wood flooring’ and features a construction type made from 100% real wood. Service life of this floor can exceed 100 years when due care is applied in the form of correct cleaning and finish maintenance. You may also come across this option as natural wood flooring.

Wood Mixed With Artificial Materials – This option is called ‘engineered wood flooring’ and features a varied construction of solid wood (as the top layer) with backing made from MDF, Plywood and Softwood. Service life of this floor can exceed 25 years when due care is applied. You may also come across this option as machined or semi-solid wood flooring.

Solid or Engineered Wood Flooring:

The biggest mistake that property owners make is fitting an incorrect type. In doing so, service life can be dramatically reduced from many years to a matter of months. Fitting one type instead of the other should be based on the flooring environment, which we will explain now.

Commercial Properties – Such properties experience greater foot traffic compared to residential properties so it makes sense to fit the solid wood flooring option due to its superior strength.

Wood flooring can be sanded and recoated thereby making the floor look ‘freshly’ fitted even though it is the same original floorboard. Solid wood flooring can be sanded up to five times over its service life, while engineered wood flooring is normally limited to two processes of sanding. This option to rejuvenate the wood is favorable amongst commercial property owners and residential property owners who let their property as the process can be done between occupancies in one afternoon.

Warm, Wet and Humid Conditions – Natural wood will expand in the face of hot temperatures and shrink in the face of cold temperatures. Such conditions can occur due to under floor heating or in humid areas such as the bathroom area.

Fitting solid wood flooring option in these conditions will cause the wood to rise (a ‘lifting’ appearance due to expansion) and then to contract causing gaps to appear between the floorboards (due to contraction). In these circumstances, the only option to consider is the engineered wood flooring type, which won’t react in this manner due to the manmade backing in its core (MDF and Plywood mostly).

In most properties owners can fit either of the two wood flooring options provided that warm and wet conditions are not present. Commercial properties tend to prefer the solid wood option.

Flooring and Noise – 2003 Building Regulations

Under the 2003 building regulation (‘The Building Regulations Approved Document E’ in England, similar regulations apply in Scotland), property owners have a legal obligation to reduce noise pollution from various sources. These regulations address many sources of noise including sound that originates from flooring.

Flooring sound is created due footsteps and due to passage of sound between two areas via the wall. In the case of flooring these regulations are met by fitting an underlay layer below the flooring material. An underlay includes two important features, noise reduction measured in percentage and acoustic insulation measured in dB. Make sure you fit an underlay and that you budget for this.

For further information on flooring and home renovation contact Karen Parry Architect today.

Information by Wood and Beyond. London based hardwood timber sellers from decking to worktops.