Wood Flooring Advice
Welcome to the advice page for engineered and solid wood flooring
The aim of the guide and links on this page is to look at the different options you have for wood flooring in your home, and how to choose the right wood flooring for your requirements and taste.
1. Engineered wood versus solid wood flooring?
Firstly, the simple answer is that engineered wood is more stable than solid wood, and can be used in more installation areas and scenarios. However, there is much more to consider, and please read on for further information and understanding.
The more specific question is – should I go for engineered wood flooring or solid wood flooring in my home, and why?
This is one of most common questions that arise when a client is looking at buying wood flooring. There is a great deal of advice available, and often people come in with a set idea about what they want. Clients perceptions are usually influenced by personal advice they have received from a friend, another flooring company, or a builder/architect working on their home. They are then coming to us to seek our advice as a flooring professional, and see how that matches up with the information previously provided to them. We aim to provide unbiased information, that is in the best interest of the client, and is not influenced by us trying to sell you a specific product over another. We would of course love to sell you a wooden floor, but above all, we want our advice to be sound and for you to make the right product choice whoever you end up buying from.
So, back to the question in hand, solid or engineered wood, and why?
To understand this, we need to look at the make up of solid and engineered wood floors.
Solid wood is the term given to a wood floor the is made up completely of one wood species. Examples of popular solid wood floors are Oak, Maple, Beech, Walnut, Pine, and Larch. In most cases, the solid wood floor is milled in a way that will cause it to expand across the width of the board [rather than the length]. When the solid wood floor either takes on or loses moisture, along with temperature changes, you will get an expansion and contraction in the size of each individual board. If every solid wood board expands out, and the correct expansion gap or break hasn’t been allowed for, the wood floor will come in to contact will walls and other fixed object, causing increased pressure and the potential for the floor to lift up [or worse push walls out[.
What the above tells you, is that solid wood flooring is very strong [partly due to the thickness of the wood], and if it is not installed correctly, or following recommended guidelines, problems can occur.
The solution to the issue of excessive expansion and contraction came in the emergence of engineered wood flooring. The engineered wood floor is made up of a top layer of solid wood [usually 2-6mm thick], which is bonded to a layer of plywood or other similar backing. The resulting effect of a thinner top layer or real wood bonded to ply wood, is that there is less force of expansion and contraction, and thus less overall movement in the whole flooring.
The reason for the reduced expansion and contraction lies in the counteracting forces supplied by the ply wood. In simplest terms, the real wood top layer is trying to move outward and inwards across the width of the board, where as the ply underneath is trying to expand and contract in multiple directions. Ply wood is made up of several layers of wood all laid in different directions, so the counteracting forces act to minimise the overall expansion and contraction of the engineered wood floor.
To summarise, if you have a room that is not affected much by moisture and temperature changes, then a professionally installed solid wood floor can be the perfect solution, and last for generations. If you have a house or area that is subject to variation in temperature and moisture, then an engineered wood would be the best solution for you. Also, if you are after the floor board width greater than 180mm wide, then I would also push towards engineered wood.
Due to changes in the flooring market, engineered wood floors are now much more popular [and slightly more affordable] than solid wood flooring. The popularity in engineered wood flooring also means that manufacturers are offering more colour, finish and width options in engineered woods, and a lot less variety in solid wood. Couple that with the higher cost of solid wood flooring, and my leaning would be to recommend engineered wood floor over solid wood floor. However, when I have a client that is particularly set on solid wood floor, I will explain the pros and cons and leave it at that. The exception with this would be if their house conditions ruled out the use of solid wood [such as under floor heating], and then I would make this clear and follow manufacturer guidelines.
2. Why Choose engineered wood rather than solid wood?
– Engineered wood is more stable than solid wood due to board construction.
– Engineered wood flooring is less susceptible to expansion and contraction and gaping than solid wood.
– Engineered wood can be installed over under floor heating [subject to manufacturers guidelines]
– Engineered wood is less likely to cup or crown than solid wood.
– More colour, finish and texture choices in engineered wood.
– More affordable than solid wood.
– Engineered wood flooring has more installation methods available, allowing greater adaption to sub-floor types.
– Solid wood flooring board width is usually limited to 180mm wide, where as solid boards are available up to 50cm wide [based on current standing].
– The ply used to construct engineered wood flooring is more readily available than the top layer of real wood, meaning less waste of precious materials.
3. How to choose the right colour and finish for wood flooring?
This is a very subjective question, and can be informed by many factors.
At Mazon Flooring we first try to find out about any strong preferences that a customer has, and why they have arrived at these decisions. Once we have that information, we can direct them toward wood flooring colours that we think fit their brief, along with some options that we know work with all interiors.
If however, a client comes to us without a clear idea of colours, and looking for inspiration, we follow a different approach. At first we try to discuss what they have seen and like in the past, then we look at what space the wood floor is going in to, and what colours are already present or going in [wall colour, kitchen units and counters]. The Mazon Flooring showroom is partnered with Mazon Interiors, so we have a large selection of kitchen cabinet and panel colours to put the floor against and make sure all works in harmony. We would then encourage our clients to take samples home and/or book a home survey, so that we can see how the floor panel works in the area it will be finally going in to.
4. Should I have an oiled or lacquered wood floor and why?
The main difference between and oiled or lacquered floor finish is down to absorption or non-absorption. An oil is designed to be absorbed by the wood floor, closing up the pores, and preventing moisture and dirt from penetrating. A lacquer is designed to sit on top of the wood flooring without penetrating very far, forming a layer on top of the wood. this is why when a lacquer scratches, you see more of a white line.
In past years, and oiled finish was considered to be more of a matt [duller] look, and a lacquer provided more of a sheen. However, advancements in technology and design now allow both matt and gloss in oils and lacquers.
In general, when we are advising clients, we inform them that a lacquered floor provides a slightly harder surface with more water protection, however, an oiled finish is easier to maintain and doesn’t show scratches to the same degree as a lacquered floor. An oiled floor also allows more of a DIY re-finishing approach, where as a lacquered floor would require more of a professional approach. In general, if good quality lacquers or oils are used, maintained and protected, most clients will never need to think about re-finishing their wood floor.
5. What are the different installation methods for wood flooring?
The main installation methods for wood flooring are full glue down, nail/screw down, or floated installation [over underlay].
Solid wood floor can only be glued or nailed/screwed down, and is not usually suitable for a floated installation over underlay.
Engineered wood flooring can use any of the three installation methods.
A floated installation involves the installation on a suitable underlay first, and then the engineered wood floor is joined together by applying PVA to the groove and fixing the tongue in to the joint.
For a glue-down wood floor installation, adhesive is applied to the sub-floor using a notched trowel, and the floor boards are placed in to the glue and pulled tightly together.
For a nail down installation, a secret nailer [porta nailer] is used to drive a nail in to the tongue of the floor board, and a nail is driven in at a 45 degree angle in to the floorboard and the sub floor [floorboards, or plywood] below. Screws can also be used and should be angled at roughly 45 degrees in to the tongue of the board. The screws should be long enough to fully fix in to the sub-floor below.
6. Should I buy from an online retailer or somebody with a physical shop location
7. What is wastage allowance for wood flooring
8. How to assess sub-floor moisture and decide if my floor is ready for wood floor installation
9 Sub-floor requirements for wood flooring
10. what accessories are available for wood flooring
11. What are the pros and cons of wood flooring
12. Acclimatising wood flooring
13. Wood flooring and under floor heating