If you are looking to upgrade your existing property with a luxurious wood floor or you are building a new build home of your dreams, getting the flooring element right is an essential part of the overall success of the project. I’m sure you will have spent hours painstakingly going over the constructional details and looking at kitchen and bathroom ideas until you are blue in the face but all these investments can so quickly become undervalued when a poor decision is made with regards to a new wooden floor.

Wood flooring generally screams luxury and has done for 100’s of years and some of the best looking floors we have seen are hundreds of years old, improving with age and being truly classy.

It is frustrating the number of times I have seen samples in customers homes that they have been sent by flooring companies; samples that are not much bigger than a business card. You are never going to get a true reflection of what your floor is going to be like with a sample that size. For me, the bigger the better; you really want to give yourself a really good idea of what the floor is going to look like. Samples should be no less than 600 mm long and at least 2 boards wide. These sample boards can then be placed in different rooms and looked at in different lights to see how they work.

There are different factors that assists in giving the wood floor the luxury factor and some floors will just never really have a luxury look at all.

Thickness

As a general rule thick heavy boards equals quality. Heavy, thick flooring is usually a long lasting solution for your flooring choice often oozing quality and luxury. The main reason you may not opt for a thicker board is that if you are going to have underfloor heating. Some manufacturers recommend you have a thinner board as a thinner board will conduct the heat better. There is an argument however that once the floor is up-to heat it wont make much of a difference.

Grades of wood

Timber is a natural material with a great variation in appearance, knots, colour and grain patterns within one species. In order to separate hardwood flooring in to different groups a well defined wood flooring grading system was introduced.

Wooden floors are graded to enhance the natural beauty of each individual timber by taking in to consideration three following major factors:

– size and number of knots,

– colour variation,

– amount of sap present in the wood.

As you can imagine it is impossible to tell what a floor is going to look like going by a very small sample. For example if you have a small sample of a rustic floor it may not show any knots but in reality the floor will probably be very knotty.

Generally speaking the higher the number of knots, higher the sap content and the more variety in colour – the lower the grade of timber. Usually it is sufficient to grade a wood flooring into 3 grades – Prime, (Select , natural and character) and Rustic. Some manufacturers have different terms for these grades but essentially the wood will fall into one of the three categories.

Whether you are looking at engineered or solid wood flooring you will have the choice of one of the three different grades. With engineered wood flooring only the top layer or lamella will be affected by the grade of the wood. In the case of solid wood the entire board will be made up from that grade of wood.

Prime –  AB grade is the highest and most expensive of the 3 grades. It is cut from the heart (centre) of the tree and has little or no knots, these knots are normally only the size of pin heads. The grain is straighter and  more uniform and will generally have no sap wood. The cost is higher because of the limited supply of the raw material. Not a great deal of every tree cut contains prime wood compared to the other grades.

(Natural,select or Character) or ABC grade is the middle timber grade and shows more character than prime grade but less than the rustic grade. Timber can display more frequent knots, more variations in colour and texture and more grain pattern.

In this grade of flooring you can expect knots of up to 30 mm in diameter, flashes of colour, burrs and other character marks. Boards can display few small black knots. During the kiln drying process knots crack slightly. After initial sanding they are filled with a mixture of sawdust and resin before re-sanding and sealing. This grade is mid range in terms of price and fits well for people who don’t want the boards to be to plain looking and don’t want to many knots.

Rustic or ABCD grade. These floors offer the best value for money as the majority of trees contain all of the variations within this category. The wood can contain vibrant patterns, unlimited knots of various sizes, sap wood and heavy grain markings. There is normally a good variation of colour with filled knots and surface makings.  This grade will normally contain a real mix of all the grades with the emphasis being on rustic.

 Edges

Most wood flooring on the market today, no matter whether it’s engineered or solid has either bevelled or mico-bevelled edge. This is a process that notches a slight “v” when boards are placed edge to edge. This look is very attractive and is my favourite look as it gives good board definition. There is however another option, which tends to fall more at the luxury end of the scale, and that’s square edged boards.

Square edged boards are generally more expensive to produce and can be a fiddle to fit because they are more fragile and easily damaged. A square edged board, when professionally installed creates a completely uninterrupted and luxury look. Many people prefer this type of look but personally I find it a little fake looking.

Colour

This is a hugely personal choice as what one person sees as tasteful another won’t. The trend leads to either a very dark floor or very light floor having the most luxurious look. The property that the floor is going into also makes a huge difference for example putting a prime floor with a pale finish in a very old house probably won’t work. As a rule of thumb a floor that has been finished on site rather than pre-finished floor will look much more luxurious but this comes at a cost.

Whether you are looking for an engineered or solid wood floor, taking these things into account when making your final decisions will pay dividends. Having a wood floor is an investment and in most cases will add to the value of a home. Please do take your time making a decision and live with some some decent size samples before making your decision.  That way you can sit back, relax and enjoy your floor for years to come.


For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today!