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What to consider when buying wood flooring

As any style-conscious homeowner will know, interior design trends can change like the weather. Much of what looks great now will no doubt be seen as dated a few years down the line, with newer versions championed as the next 'must-haves'. Wood flooring, however, is exempt from this cycle; its place at the top of the style standings seems to be insurmountable.

It's completely understandable, then, that you may be ready to install wood flooring in your home. There are, however, a few things you'll have to consider before getting started - here are just a few...

Floor type

Mainstream wood flooring comes in two finishes, with each type offering its own benefits. These finishes are engineered or solid - and you'll need to make a decision before going any further.

Engineered flooring first became popular in the commercial market, before finding its way to more residential settings. It tends to be made using a combination of a top layer - or a veneer - from a genuine wood species such as oak or walnut, which is permanently adhered to several layers of plywood core, each running perpendicular to one another. The term 'engineered' relates to the fact that the planks, although a wood-based, natural product, have been manufactured, or engineered, to create the finished product.

One of the main benefits with engineered flooring is that it's less likely to be affected by moisture and changes in humidity because of the added stability created by the multi layer, man-made core wood construction. This engineered stability does mean most engineered wood flooring is suitable for underfloor heating and it tends to be keener priced than an equivalent solid wood flooring.

Solid flooring - whether produced using oak, walnut or teak - differs in that each plank is one single piece of wood from top to bottom, instead of being made up of layers, as with engineered wood flooring. While this tends to make it more expensive, the fact the flooring is solid throughout does hold more appeal for some. However, our opinion is that solid wood flooring does not last any longer than engineered and the premium price for paying for it is, therefore, questionable.

Either way, solid and engineered wood flooring can certainly boost the value of your home.


Appearance is one of the main reasons people choose wood flooring over the various alternatives. It'd be wrong to assume that all options look the same, though. Instead, homeowners can choose from various different styles to ensure the flooring they invest in fits the aesthetic characteristics of their homes.

When it comes to wood floors, there's a grading system in place that helps manufacturers, retailers and consumers differentiate between the finishes available. The factors taken into account when categorising each one include the size and number of knots, the amount of sap present and the colour variations.

At the most economical end of the chart is CD, or Rustic Grade flooring. This style allows for more grain, with large visible knots spread across the surface. Small cracks may also be apparent, providing - as the name suggests - something of a rustic feel. Those looking for a simpler, more minimalistic feel can choose AB, or Prime/Nature/Select Grade, flooring. At this end of the scale, planks are chosen specifically to create a cleaner effect, with fewer blemishes and knots present. ABC Mixed Grade flooring falls neatly between the two, and is particularly popular in walnut.

The clinical, or cleaner finish comes at a price, though. AB Nature or Select planks are always more expensive. This is because it is far harder to find trees without knots, blemishes and sap marks in them.


The decisions aren't quite over yet - now it's time to settle on the kind of finish you'd like. Your choice will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of maintenance you're ready for and the kind of foot traffic with which the floor will need to cope.

At this point, there are three main options to consider. The first involves the flooring being spray coated with numerous layers of protective, UV-cured lacquer. The actual finish itself can range from a shiny gloss to a subtler matt effect, depending on your own preference. Either way, the result is a long-lasting and low-maintenance floor.

Next up is natural oil. The process for this involves numerous coats of oil being applied by rollers, with each one being buffed into the top layer of the flooring. The resulting matt sheen is then left to cure, creating the most natural feel and appearance possible.

Once again, those looking for a balance between the two above options can turn to UV oil - a finish which combines the tougher characteristics of lacquer with the natural effect of standard oil. You'll be pleased to learn that nowadays there are oils readily available that can be added to warm water and then carefully, with a well wrung-out mop, applied to the existing wooden floor. This regular, easy process continues to nourish the wooden floor, breathing constant life in and ensuring it continues to look rich in colour tone, as well as keeping a protection barrier in place.

Settling on a type of wood flooring that suits your needs will take time, but research is the only way to make sure you get it right. The above information will certainly help, but be sure to discuss your options with a professional too!