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How to choose the perfect timber flooring for your home

Timber flooring

Flooring is probably one thing that will make the most significant impact in your home as it creates the base for all of your other interior choices. When it comes to choosing timber flooring, there are so many options it can feel like the sky’s the limit. Several key factors should influence your choice. Your budget, how much wear and tear the floor will get, how durable you need it to be, and the look you’re trying to achieve. Here’s an overview of the different options available to help you make the perfect choice. 

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Plank

Earlier versions of timber flooring were made up of strips of the timber joined together into panels. The boards were short and the strips narrow. Today however this kind of flooring has been replaced in popularity by plank flooring. 

Plank flooring comes in single plank boards which range in width from 150 to 270 and much wider. The boards are also much longer than strip flooring. Generally, the wider and longer you go, the more expensive the board. 

Plank floors also come in an enormous range of species, colours, textures and finishes from smoked or stained to oiled or lacquered. 

The lighter colours like white, oiled oak or light smoked oak will give a more contemporary natural look and feel. In contrast, something distressed like a wire-brushed or hand-scraped board will give a more lived-in, rustic look.

Solid

There is a common misconception that a solid timber floor is the best quality flooring. The view is that the whole floor should be made from the particular species of wood being chosen. But the top layer is the only part that you see; what’s underneath needs to be stable and help the floor to last. 

It comes in a huge range of shades and grains, works in any setting from ultra-modern to country cottage. A uniform grain looks modern, while knots and irregularities fit in nicely with a more traditional scheme.

Solid wood boards will move, especially in an environment where there’s lots of moisture and mopping like a kitchen. A wooden floor can be re-sanded, but it’s a pretty dirty process.

People also like the idea that solid floors can be sanded and refinished as many times as needed, however, sanding floors is a messy and disruptive job. Additionally, solid floors are not compatible with underfloor heating.

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Engineered

These are by far the most popular choice for timber flooring as they have the look of real wood but are much more stable. Made from a combination of layers of spruce, pine or birch ply backing sandwiched together with a top layer of timber veneer. The outer layer of timber is up to 6mm thick so you could sand it up to 2or 3 times to refresh it if you wish. They are also a more sustainable choice as they are made up of less hardwood than solid floors. 

Engineered floors are generally laid as a click system which allows them to expand and contract with changes in temperature. This makes engineered timber the ideal choice if you have underfloor heating. 

Engineered floors come in a huge variety of in designs, stains and colours and finishes. You can get panels of engineered boards that look like chevron. It’s a more cost-effective way to achieve a chevron floor.

There are also engineered versions of solid floors where the layers are made up of the solid timber of your choice. They are much more stable than a regular solid floor but are an expensive alternative to standard engineered or solid boards.

Timber flooring

Parquet

Parquet is a French technique of laying blocks of wood into geometric patterns which date back to the 1600’s. It was developed as an alternative to laying marble floors and is associated with opulent interiors like the Palace of Versailles.

This look has seen a real revival in recent years with patterns like herringbone and chevron becoming popular. These two patterns are often confused. Herringbone is a V-shaped staggered weaving pattern. Chevron is an inverted V pattern with each side meeting at a point. 

Herringbone has a more classic and timeless look than chevron. Chevron tends to be pricier than Herringbone due to the fact that each board is cut at a precise angle, making it more labour intensive. When installing parquet, it’s advisable to seek out a specialist fitter who is experienced in laying these kinds of floors.

When it comes to the finish of the blocks and boards, there are lots of options available. From traditional tumbled blocks to more contemporary versions in different stains and finishes. It’s a lovely timeless look that works well in both a traditional or modern interior. 

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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