At this time of year, sprucing up your flooring just seems like the right thing to do. The approach of autumn yields the ideal opportunity to give your floors a quick makeover and add that perfect finishing touch to create a beautiful interior. Changing to wooden flooring is a simple, yet effective move. Wood is both comfortable and durable, as well as light on the pocket, making the benefits all the more interesting and worthwhile. Make sure you do your research, though – there are a myriad of options available and it’s easy to get completely confused.
Grace Fuller spoke to Irsan Mehar from west London-based Nexus Flooring, to get some tips and guidance on what to look for...
Talk us through the differences:
The first thing you need to decide is the type of wooden flooring you would like to get for your house. There are two common types of options available – solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Let’s take a quick look to see the difference between the two types and figure out which one would be more appropriate for your home.
Solid wood: Solid wooden flooring is essentially thick planks of solid wood, usually joined by a traditional tongue-and-groove mechanism. The strips are usually available in pre-finished and unfinished types; the wooden flooring width ranges from 11/2 inches to 21/4 inches while the thickness ranges from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch.
While aesthetically it is beautiful and very authentic, you need to be aware that solid wood flooring can often raise the height of the floor, so you need to be prepared to adjust existing doors. It can also be a little cumbersome to maintain, requiring more care than its engineered counterpart, and in periods of humidity, solid wood tends to expand and contract, so it’s far more advisable to only lay it on ground floors rather than the upper floors.
Engineered hardwood: This type of wooden flooring often emerges as a preferred option for most customers. Its long list of benefits makes it an obvious choice over its counterpart. As the name implies, engineered hardwood is made up of various layers of plywood and composite material, topped with a layer of solid wood. Its thickness varies from 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch while the width varies from 3 inches up to 10 inches.
Since engineered hardwood is easier to maintain, it can be used anywhere in the house, irrespective of the placement or the level of installation. This type of wood is ideal for basements and bathrooms, since moisture and dampness have no effect on it.
Grain, Colour and Appearance:
Wooden flooring is not only in fashion, but goes with all kinds of interior trends. Since it comes in so many shapes, sizes, colors and finishes, it’s fairly easy to match your floor with your room’s décor. Depending on the kind of house you have, the wood grains would vary, making them ideal for whatever style and atmosphere you’re trying to create.
For example, if you have country-style interiors, you should choose planks which are wider and have highly defined wooden grains in them. On the other hand, if you are more of a Colonial-style person, you can choose wide planks in Oak and Maple. If traditional designs get you going, choose from Oak, Maple or Walnut with widths varying from 21/4 inches to 31/4 inches.
It’s all about the look you’re trying to create.
What about finishing?
At the end of the day, the finishing is what adds a lot of glamour and style to the end result. You can choose from different types of finishing, which include (but are by no means limited to) clear gloss, distressed, hand scraped and wire-brush finish.
The core decision you need to make, even before you select the actual finish, is whether you want to buy pre-finished wood or unfinished wood.
Prefinished wood: This is one of the most commonly found hardwood varieties in the market, ideal for people who want to see what they are getting into beforehand. As the name suggests, prefinished planks usually come with the stain and top coat already applied to them. This helps avoid any nasty surprises at the time of installation. You can mix and match the stain and colour with your interiors, so that everything goes according to plan and your decorating scheme doesn’t hit a snag, post-installation.
Unfinished wood: These kind of wooden installations are finished on site, which makes them a less preferred option for most customers. This is probably the right choice for the brave and committed amongst you – given that there is a lot of work that goes into actually preparing the flooring. Along with the amount of work involved, there is also an element of chance since one can’t predict the actual finish, post-installation. Definitely not an option for the faint-hearted.
People looking for quick results should go for prefinished flooring, since these types of floors are often easy to install and covered under a warranty by the seller.
So, as autumn approaches, our advice if you’re considering wooden flooring is not only to research the types that are most suitable for you, but also think carefully about:
• The type of look you want to create – are you going for a rustic atmosphere or a sleek and contemporary style?
• Do you want a traditional feel or do you want to make a statement with painted effects?
• Do you want a floor that is easy to look after, that you can whizz the hoover and mop over, or do you have time to care for it properly?
Whatever you decide, there is no doubt that wood is the new mantra for all interior designers these days – and you can truly transform the look and feel of your home within the space of a weekend.