Timber Flooring Essentials

Timber Flooring Essentials

A wooden floor must be one of the best home improvements any home owner can make. Yes, it adds immensely to the value of the house, but that's not the biggest benefit. They just look and feel so good. A timber floor is always stylish, and with a couple of rugs over it, is also incredibly cosy. Because of the range of colours in wood from purple to red to browns, timber will match just about every colour scheme. It's easy to clean, doesn't collect dust, and will probably outlast you.

First! Make Sure You've Bought the Right Colour!
Easier said than done. The beauty of timber is that's it contains a spectrum of colours, which will seem to vary with the seasons and with the colour of your decor. The disadvantage is that what looked the perfect colour in the show room may look considerably different when it's laid in your living room. And it'll probably look different again in your dining room. Get the biggest sample you can possibly lay your hands on and examine it under all lights and at different times. Remember too that you may be unconsciously influenced by the weather. Apparently, buyers have a definite tendency to pick dark floors in Summer and light floors in Winter. Try to visualise how your floor will look under dark wet days and bright sunny days too.

Buy Your Floor Early!
Your floor timber should be in your house at least 2 weeks before it's going to be laid. That gives the timber time to expand or contract.

Choosing Your Material
There's a fantastic range of floor types to choose from - and according to our carpenters, it's mainly a personal choice - like wine, they say! There are certain constraints which do have to be taken into account - is your house damp? what's the subfloor? is it level? do you have underfloor heating. Certain types of floor may be more suitable in one situation than another. Here's our very short guide to the four most common types of floor.

Solid Hardwood Timber Floors
This is a straight up, old fashioned floor made from planks of hardwood or softwood. Hardwood is more expensive but harder wearing. But don't automatically rule out softwood, especially if you like the "lived in" look. Some interior designers even say to give it plenty of wear as the dents enhance the look! A solid floor will warp under humid conditions so it's not suitable for a basement or damp house.

Semi-Solid Timber Floors
These are made by glueing several thin ply layers together, and then glueing a hardwood layer on top. Semi-solid floors can generally be resanded and finished about 3 times. They should last between 20-40 years depending on wear and tear.

Engineered Solid Floors
Engineered solid floors are similar to semi-solid floors in that they are constructed from several ply layers with a hardwood layer on top. Every second ply layer is "reversed" to help counteract the expansion and contraction of the wood with humidity and temperature changes. Engineered solid floors can generally be resanded and finished about 4-5 times. They should last between 40-60 years depending on wear and tear.

Laminate Floors
Laminate floors are actually not made from timber at all. They use a photograph of wood sandwiched between a clear plastic covering and a fibreboard backing. Early laminates were easy to scratch, but a new quality laminate is now extremely hard wearing. Having said that, they're probably not suitable for the owners of large dogs! They will scratch the floor and as the floor can't be resanded there is no way of removing those scratches. One of the big giveaways is the noise the floor makes when you walk on it - it will sound hollower, but that can be reduced using sound dampening underlays.

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