What you should consider when selecting hardwood floors

October 1, 2018

Wooden flooring is quite popular in Australian homes and a staple choice among the interior designers.  Wooden floors seem to be the appropriate choice from the perspective of practicality as well as for an aesthetical appeal that adds elegance and warmth to the interiors. Often, timber floors are the standard over other options from tiles to terrazzo to carpets.  You can lay wooden floors in living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and studies and even in the kitchen. Yes, people do put the wood floor in kitchens despite knowing that it could face harsh conditions of heavy footfall, spillages and exposure to moisture and humidity.

If you are wondering about the wisdom of using timber for kitchen floors you should know that well-sealed hardwood can ward off the harms from spillages as fluids generally bead up that you can wipe away easily. The convenience of using hardwood floors is exemplary in cases when someone drops a breakable item on the floor, and it does not break just because hardwood is softer than tiles. Hardwood floor when adequately sealed is easy to maintain and clean thereby providing healthy interiors. With the help of a floor sanding company, you can pump new life into old floors and achieve the most attractive and lustrous finish of hardwood floors that look new again.

When choosing hardwood, you have to keep the aesthetics and performance in mind. It is never easy to choose hardwood flooring going just by its looks because many different types of hardwood have different characteristics. The aspect of installation is also crucial during selection. To help you in choosing the right kind of hardwood, we have listed the steps involved in the range that can make the task easy.

Solid wood or engineered wood

Timber as we know traditionally comes as solid hardwood cut into planks that are good for flooring. By placing the planks one beside another, you can cover the entire floor, cutting some planks if needed for customisation. In addition to solid hardwood, today you will also come across engineered hardwood that is also good for flooring. The engineered hardwood consists of two different kinds of wood materials and comes in planks similar to solid hardwood. The planks have a thin top layer of hardwood that bond with other layers designed for preventing the floor from shifting when it goes through the cycles of expansion and contraction. Natural wood undergoes longitudinal, radial and tangential movements but for engineered hardwood, the natural movement remains restricted by creating opposing forces within the board.

Engineered hardwood provides some advantages during installation upon concrete subfloors. Since you can fix the engineered flooring on concrete directly or on soundproofing mat, it does not raise the height of a floor as it happens with solid hardwood.  Raised floor height causes much inconvenience and needs re-working that increases cost. Be careful about the thickness of the top layer of hardwood in engineered hardwood because it should not be so thin that it is impossible to refinish it in future by sanding.


Site finish or pre-finished hardwood

Either you buy raw, unfinished hardwood that you can finish after installation, or you can get pre-finished hardwood complete with the topcoat and stain. Prefinished hardwood gives you the satisfaction of knowing in advance exactly what kind of finish the floor receives. It becomes easy to choose other design elements like cabinets, wall coverings and textiles. In case of finishing the floor at site keep you have to wait to see the outcome that depends on the skills of the flooring contractor. Pre-finished floors take less time to install because there is nothing more to do after laying it.

However, the options of customisation are more when you go for site finish, and this aspect seems appealing to many designers and homeowners.  After all, you have more control over the stain and sheen that can make quite some difference in the aesthetical appeal of floors.

Decide on the type of finish

Knowing that you have to choose between oil finish and polyurethane finish, make up your mind about what kind of finish you like. Sift through the options of penetrating oils and oil like hybrids as well as pre-finished UV cured urethane finishes and site finish polyurethanes to make a choice.

For soft, natural and matte looks, oil finish works very well as it penetrates into the wood. However, the resistance to stains and damages is not as good as polyurethane that creates a hard topcoat on the wood surface making it more resilient to wear and tear. Polyurethane is especially useful in kitchens and in homes where children are very active. The soft oil finished floor is vulnerable to scratches, but you can touch it up easily. Scratches on polyurethane would require either recoating the entire affected section or replacement of the board.

Choose the grain pattern

Grain patterns depend on the manner of sawing planks. The traditional grain results from plainsawn planks. Rift sawn boards have linear and long grains that are consistent without cathedrals.  There is some similarity between quarter sawed boards with rift sawn boards, but the former has more irregular figures like 3D rays across the plank. A solid wood board is available as plain sawn and a combination of rift and quarter sawn, but you can even choose either rift sawn or quarter sawn instead of the blended type.

What width do you like?

Traditionally, 2 to 3-inch strips used to be the norm for hardwood floors, but now you can choose any other plank width. Wider planks seem to give a more luxurious feeling especially when you consider the expenses associated with wider planks. However, 4 to 6 inch wide planks are the new standard depending on the application and the size of the room. Wider planks mean fewer seams but the contraction and expansion are more, and the seams become very prominent with time.

Choose from a range of hardwood options from Tallow wood, Wormy Chestnut and Brushbox to Victorian ash and Tasmanian oak as well as the Spotted Gum as these are native species readily available, hence affordable.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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