By Jonathan Sapir M.D of www.WoodandBeyond.com
Wood flooring options are made up of two completely different floorboard constructions. While the two look the same when fitted and cost about the same to buy, in the wrong interior settings, fitting an incorrect type will severely shorten the life expectancy of the floor.
Types Of Floorboard Construction
Real wood floors are flooring options made from real hardwood. It means that what ‘seems’ a close alternative such as laminate wood and vinyl effect wood are in fact artificial options which are not made from wood and therefore do not fall in this category. Real wood flooring is made up of solid type and engineered type, also known as machined wood flooring.
Solid Wood Flooring (1)– Each floorboard is made from 100% natural hardwood from a number of species, most common of which are Oak and Walnut. Besides hardwood, the floorboard contains no other core material.
Engineered Wood Flooring (2) – Each floorboard is manufactured using machine glued layered construction. The core is made using layer upon layer of medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and plywood on top of which a layer of hardwood in thickness of 3mm to 6mm thick is placed. The result is a type of wood flooring which externally looks identical to solid wood flooring and often referred to as machined wood flooring.
Choosing One Type Over The Other
The decision between one over its alternative is often practical in nature, but your log home project budget may also play a part in your decision.
When To Choose Solid Type – The use of 100% hardwood means that these floorboards are extremely strong. Furthermore, it is possible to sand and recoat the floorboards from time to time thereby exposing ‘new’ hardwood each time. In certain interiors, such as high footfall areas or commercial log homes, it makes practical sense to fit the stronger option of the two, which is the solid type. Service life of solid wood flooring can exceed 100 years.
When To Choose Engineered Type – Solid wood will expand in the face of warm temperatures and vice versa, contract when the temperature drops. These conditions are likely to occur in areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and even in log homes that are located near a water source such as a lake. Solid wood flooring if fitted in these areas will rise when the temperature warms up. You will then see gaps appearing between the floorboards when the temperature drops.
On the other hand, engineered wood flooring thanks to its MDF and Plywood core (remember, upon which real hardwood is placed), is immune to this reaction. It makes it possible for the first time to fit real wood flooring in all areas of the log home, even on top of under floor heating. Lastly, when budget is concerned, again the use of MDF and Plywood over complete hardwood makes these floorboards more affordable.
Wood Flooring and Sustainable Sourcing
The origin of the wood is a concern for many people. Most hardwood that is imported comes from managed forests in which logging is only permitted on a strict quota and trees are replenished (hence the use of the term ‘managed’). Your vendor of choice will be able to present documents confirming the sustainable source from which the hardwood arrived, so your decision to fit wood flooring does not endanger other habitats.
The Visual Side Of Wood Flooring
Up to now we talked about the practical constrains of wood flooring, but we haven’t forgot the decorative part. Ultimately, the visual appearance of the floorboard is made from the species of hardwood and the grade of the wood.
Species Of Hardwood – Most species and certainly the popular ones the likes of Oak and Walnut are golden brown in color. There are some naturally available dark or light hardwood options, though these tend to be extremely expensive as they often originate from the tropical. Some manufactures will color the floorboards using artificial techniques such as whitewashing the wood to achieve white wood floors or baking the wood in an oven (called thermo treating) to achieve black wood flooring. No longer are you limited to mere shades of natural brown.
Grade Of Wood – Natural wood contains color changes, grain markings, sapwood and knots. How many or how few are present in the floorboard is measured using a grading scale. High grades such as ‘prime’ and ‘select’ feature a uniform look with limited sapwood and knots. On the other hand, basic grades such as ‘natural’ and ‘rustic’ feature plenty of sapwood, knots and may even display frequent color changes. Choosing grade is a personal choice based on your taste and suitability of one grade over the other in terms of your interior.
We hope this guide has helped.
By Jonathan Sapir M.D of www.WoodandBeyond.com