Wood Flooring

Exposed wood floors have made a comeback. I find my clients to be attracted by their visual warmth and simplicity. They express a clean and uncluttered sensibility. Today there are a myriad of options available.

There are two types of wood floors available; solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is as it sounds, is solid real wood through and through. Engineered wood floors are veneers pressed onto dimensionally stable plywood backing. Advantages of engineered wood floors are that there seems to be endless choices of varieties of species available.

This is because engineed wood are veneers backed with dimensional stable plywood. The veneer is about ¼ inch thick making it possible to produce  less costly floors of unusual species. there is something to suit every taste,.nclude both domestic wood species such as oak, walnut, birch, cherry, hickory, pecan, maple, and exotic wood species including Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, sapele, santos mahogany, acacia and cabreuva. Engineered floors look like solid wood, are faster to install, and less prone to moisture damage because there plywood backing is dimensionally stable. They do not expand and contract. Solid wood floors are not available in the same variety of species of exotic woods. However, you will find a lot of choice, including white oak, red oak, walnut, mahogany, ash and maple, birch, teak and wenge. Whereas an engineered wood floor can be installed immediately upon delivery, solid wood floor planks acclimate to the environment in which they will be installed.

This is so the moisture level of the boards adjusts to the relative humidity of the room. Usually this takes 3 to 4 weeks. If installed to soon the floor boards may shrink leaving gaps between the boards. The big advantage of a real wood floor it that it can be refinished as needed. An engineered wood floor, because it is a thin veneer of wood cannot be. They can be only be sanded a couple times before the plywood backing becomes exposed. It is for this reason that I prefer real wood in most applications. In small spaces or rooms with very little traffic, the impact of an unusual species in engineered wood may well be worth the risk for the drama created. There are other considerations also when deciding on a wood floor.

The plank size will help set the mood of the room. A wider plank denotes a bit more informality where as a thinner plank expresses more formality. I never specify a floor less than 2 ¾” however. Planks thinner than these loose the qualities wood grain. The exception to this rule is patterned floors such as herringbone and parquet patterns. In these cases the drama comes from the pattern and a simple species in a plank that no more than 1-3/4” works best. The inherent color of the species and color of the stain used also
impact the feeling of the room. Always look at stained samples of wood planks in the room. Make at least 4 samples. Generally I find that darker colors recede and make a room feel larger. This may be a good trick to utilize in a room with low ceiling heights. The amount of light in the room must be considered, however, and the stain adjusted accordingly. A light floor such as ash of bleached oak can be dramatic in a large space such as a
loft, especially with walls painted white.

It is also important to think about furnishings. If your taste tends to run towards the modern furniture with simple lines with simple materials or industrial materials, a plank with an active, rich wood grain will provide a sophisticated counterpoint. If your furniture is mainly wood and it’s design is intricate a simple wood species such as walnut or oak would better suit. In this case, I always choose a very neutral mid range tone and avoid red tones such as cherry.

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