Do you need a guide to help you through the maze of choosing wooden flooring for your home?

This article assumes that you have already made at least an in-principle decision to lay a real wood floor in at least one room in your home. You thought about cheap laminate but then you realised you wanted something that would really last and could stand up to years of wear without having to be ripped up and replaced. You considered carpets but decided that you didn’t want to spend half your life cleaning, and the other half worrying about spilling a glass of wine. So now here you are thinking that the decision process is already complete and now you can move on with your project.

But of course you realise that there are always decisions to be made, and in this case you are probably going to need a little more information to make them. So read on for the low-down on wooden floors and what you need to consider.

Solid wood floors or engineered wood floors?

So this seems fairly straightforward, right? Solid wood is obviously best, right? Well… not necessarily. Solid wood flooring, as the name implies, consists of planks of solid real wood, typically oak, but it can be any timber. It is hardwearing and looks great, but it does have some drawbacks. Notably, it is prone to expansion and contraction due to changes in ambient temperature and humidity. This can be particularly problematic in rooms like kitchens and conservatories, or if it were laid over underfloor heating.

So although solid hardwood flooring is a great choice, particularly where it will be laid in high traffic areas such as hallways, the benefits of engineered oak hardwood flooring are considerable.

Choosing the right type of floor for the amount of use

When choosing your solid hardwood, or engineered oak or walnut floor, you should be aware of the thickness of the planks, and in particular the thickness of the wear layer. For areas where you expect light use or if you are on a tight budget, you can go for a 3mm top layer. This will still stand up to a fair amount of use and can be sanded down to remove scuffs after a few years use. For busier areas, or for a longer life, choose an engineered wood with a 6mm wear layer or just go for solid wood if the conditions will allow it.

What about Walnut?

Walnut is a rich dark wood with a stunningly beautiful varied grain. It may not suit every room or every homeowner but in focus rooms, especially large and luxurious situations, it can make a really stunning impact. You can find more information on the benefits of engineered walnut flooring

Stained, or au naturelle?

A great deal depends on personal taste when it comes to the colour you choose. Natural oak has its own beauty and a nice light colour which will make the most of limited space, just like magnolia walls help to make a room look larger.

A lot will depend on the furniture and other aspects of the room where the flooring will be laid. You can take the guesswork out of the decision-making process by getting a selection of samples to compare with your existing décor. Even if you are still shopping for furniture, you can take samples around with you and compare as you buy.

The good news is, if you lay the floor and then decide it could benefit from being a shade darker, it is not impossible to stain it in situ. You might even choose to do that at a later date just for a change. Natural wood is very flexible in that way.

It’s Not How You Start…

Of course, half the beauty of wood is in the finish. For floors you need something which is both hardwearing and also brings out the natural lustre and grain of the wood. Some planks come pre-treated with a specialist oil such as Woca hardwax oil. This is ideal if you are unsure about the best finish or working to a budget as it takes the guesswork out of choosing and is already built-in to the price. Other products are supplied untreated, giving you free reign to stain the floor on site to your exact taste, in situ, and then select any of a number of quality finishes, for example one of the range of Treatex oils or a lacquer.

Pricing Up the Job

It’s never wise to go into a major renovation or building project without having a clear idea of budget and it is easy to make costly errors by cutting corners. The first and most important thing to do is to take careful measurements of your room. The old carpenters’ adage of measure twice and cut once, could not be more appropriate here. Be sure to take your measurements in the same units throughout, I would recommend using metric for this although it won’t hurt to have the measurements in imperial as well, just don’t mix them up!

You don’t need to be a mathematical genius, however, to work out how much wood flooring you need because there are handy online calculators to take the guesswork out of everything.

In fact, there’s a lot more help on offer at JFJ. Let’s face it, nobody can be an expert at everything, and you could spend a lifetime reading up on a new subject, only to miss some subtle yet vital piece of information that any expert would bring up without hesitation. So once you have done as much research as you feel you need don’t be afraid to ask for advice. After all, as a long-standing professional local business, it is in our best interests to make sure you get the right floor for your needs, and we have the experience to do so.