Where do you start when trying to select the perfect hardwood flooring for your space?
Wood and Beyond has written a blog post for the Ambience Design Group blog to help you with your hardwood flooring selection. Wood and Beyond are suppliers of hardwood products from decking to worktops and flooring, all sourced from sustainable resources.
Interior designers who specialize in the retail and commercial landscape often have to take into account not just the design aspect, but equally the durability of the interior over time.
The truth is that retail, office and commercial properties see far greater foot traffic compared to residential properties and any downtime for renovation or unplanned maintenance can end up costing time and money. The same considerations apply when choosing wood flooring for a commercial project. Commercial, office and retail properties will experience high levels of foot traffic, which can lead to expedited wear and further costs if the floor is made from unsuitable material. In this article we will explain the various aspects that your commercial and retail interior designers have to contend with.
Wood Flooring Type: Real wood flooring is made entirely of or contains some level of hardwood. Hardwood differs from softwood in its superior strength as it is based on slow growing trees in contrary to softwood, which is based on faster growing, evergreen or coniferous trees. Hardwood flooring is available in two construction types and often only one will prove the most suitable for your project.
Solid Hardwood Flooring – These hardwood floorboards are made from complete 100% natural timber such as Oak, Walnut, Pine and other common species. The use of 100% timber helps ensure extensive service life, as wood is naturally a very strong material. Unless special circumstances emerge, solid hardwood is a sensible choice in most projects.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring – Each engineered hardwood floorboard contains solid natural timber as well, however only as a layer amongst other layers. The top layer is made from natural timber, typically in thickness of 3mm to 6mm thick, while the core is made from MDF, Plywood and even softwood. The use of natural wood as the external layer ensures that an engineered hardwood floorboard will look identical to solid hardwood.
Choosing One Type Over The Other: Your interior designers will recommend one of the two based on the project’s circumstances. Such recommendations will not be based on price (both solid and engineered cost about the same) nor will it be based on looks (both look the same when fitted), but rather their recommendations will be based upon practical constrains, the limitations of each type and their experience.
Potentially Wet, Damp and Humid Areas – Conditions leading to temperature rise or temperature fall will often occur in bathroom and kitchen areas as well as a result of under floor heating. Fitting solid hardwood in these areas will cause expedited wear, as natural wood reacts to temperature fluctuations by expanding in hot conditions and contracting in cold conditions. Over expansion will damage the floorboard, while contraction will cause deep gaps to appear between the floorboards. Only engineered hardwood flooring will prove appropriate in these conditions.
High Level Foot Traffic Areas – Real wooden flooring can be sanded and recoated when required to improve the appearance of the floorboards overnight. Sanding is a process that removes 1mm layer of surface timber, to expose new timber below. Once the new surface has been coated again, the floorboards will look brand new as if they were just fitted moments ago. Because sanding removes 1mm layer every time, you can only sand an engineered floorboard so many times (remember, an engineered natural timber layer is typically between 3mm to 6mm thick), while solid hardwood floorboards can be sanded many times over. Unless special circumstances prevail, solid is often the preferred option for commercial, office and retail properties.
Grade of Timber Once you have decided on solid or engineered floorboards, comes the visual aspect of grade. Grade is an indication of how refine the floorboard is in terms of colour variation, sapwood and knots. It does not influence quality in any way.
The four grades are:
Prime Grade – Prime is the highest and dearest grade. Each floorboard of the prime grade will feature very few sapwood and knots. You can safely expect the floorboards to closely match in terms of colour.
Select Grade – Select is closely related to prime and while you might come across sapwood and knots, these are far and few between. Floorboards of the select grade might vary slightly in colour.
Natural Grade – Natural grade is a popular choice for covering a large area in wood, as the floorboards are significantly more affordable. You should expect plenty of sapwood and knots. Floorboards of the natural grade will feature significant colour variation, which in large areas is less noticeable.
Rustic Grade – Rustic grade is the most popular grade due to costs. Each floorboard of the rustic grade will feature plenty of sapwood and knots of up to 35mm in size. Floorboards will display significant colour variation.
A TIP FROM AMBIENCE:
After having read all about the different types of hardwood, you still may need a little more help in making the right choice for you. Try this nicely designed tool to help you with your hardwood flooring selection – Species Selector by Macwoods.
It will help you determine your options based on budget, usage, look + feel, colour and size.
Find the perfect hardwood flooring for your home. Get started now!