Though there are many alternatives to wood flooring that can save you time and effort, no laminate or linoleum pattern can quite match the rustic authenticity of a good pine or oak. Speaking of wood types, the actual ply you use for your floor can be of extreme importance, as can the the method you use to lay it, the substance you use to finish it and much more besides. In this entry of the Woodshop Direct blog, we're going to cover some of the major pitfalls to be aware of when laying wood flooring, and what you should keep in mind to get the best result in your woodwork.
The Categories of Wood Flooring
If you feel you have the necessary knowledge, experience and bravery to install your own floor, that's terrific, but you need to decide which installation method would best suit your chosen type of flooring, and your house's sub-floor i.e. its foundation. There are two types of wood flooring types: solid, and engineered. Solid wood flooring, also known as 'real wood flooring', is made from a single piece of timber that has been stained and carefully cut for purpose, whilst engineered (or veneered) wood flooring consists of a thin plank of real timber carefully bonded to two or more layers (so that only the top can be seen once the floor has been laid down).
Sub-floors meanwhile generally fit into one of three categories; concrete or cement, wooden (i.e. moisture resistant plywood or chipboard) or floor joists. Knowing which floor type would best suit your sub-flooring is probably one of the most important things to be aware of when laying wood flooring. If the room you're redecorating has a concrete sub-floor, then engineered is the best product to use, as it will better resist moisture, whereas solid flooring shouldn't go near a sub-floor if there isn't adequate moisture protection.
Different sub-floors also call for different installation methods. For example, if you're using solid flooring you should glue down the timber to concrete and nail it to timber, whereas engineered flooring should always be either 'floated' or glued down. It's vital that you strip away your flooring to a solid base level before working, and that you've determined which installation method is most appropriate.
When fitting wood flooring, first thing's first - check whether the thickness of your floor is going to affect the room, and more importantly, any interconnecting rooms. If height allowance isn't properly considered, any low-hanging beams are going to feel a bit lower, and going too far over in thickness means you're going to need specially made wood to account for the difference.
Though it requires a hefty devotion of your time and greater level of skill, laying down solid wood flooring boasts many benefits, including the fact that it can last for many years, be re-stained and re-sanded many times and the sheer notion that's is a natural, sustainable product should delight eco-friendly homes. It does however, have some drawbacks. Engineered wood, if floated, allows for east repair, replacement or movement, whilst solid floors generally need to be fixed down, making them harder to remove should you ever need to. As we mentioned before, solid wood flooring should never be laid in a bathroom or below-ground level room, due to moisture, but even in a room with less humidity they are likely to contract and expand.
Another thing worth considered when laying down wood flooring is the occupants! Both solid and engineered wood are great alternatives to carpets in a house where allergies are abound, but there are considerations to make, such as:
Is there anything, such as high heels, pet's toenails or furniture, that might damage the floor?
Will the amount of light in the room help accentuate the aesthetic qualities of the wood?