Hardwood Floor Innovations
The hardwood flooring sanding available for homeowners today has evolved greatly from the material used even quarter of a century ago. The march of technology has not missed the hardwood floor industry, and end-users are now faced with more choices, wood types, colours and finishes than ever before. Sealants too have improved and, if correctly applied, can significantly lengthen the life of the finishing.
During the mid to late 1980s the householder’s choice was limited to mainly oak, beech and elm woods with exotics excluded as being too expensive and difficult to cure and/or transport. The uniform width of planking at that time was around 15cm (2 ¼ ins) and these strips would be fixed in place by nails, making the installation of hardwood flooring the exclusive domain of the carpenter.
Evolution being what it is, nowadays the end-user benefits include the option of pre-finished planking which can be more easily installed by an enthusiastic DIY’er. With the end of the one-size-fits-all planking, homeowners can choose distinctive widths and styles of wood that can be further tailored with a huge choice of finishing options including gloss and matte finishes.
With the accent on outdoor living too hardwood flooring comes into its own in the form of decking, hot tub surrounds, pathways and patio areas.
Eco-friendly hardwoods to the fore
Recognising the swelling numbers of eco-aware end-users, the industry now presents attractive and affordable hardwood options including reclaimed and recycled timber. These wood types are commonly salvaged from old buildings, barns, outbuildings and even abandoned stately homes. Recycled hard wood can also be found on river beds and old disused railway sleepers. The life the recycled wood has lived adds further individuality and intrinsic patterns on the wood surface, which would be impossible to reproduce. No wonder then that reclaimed wood is so popular!
Green hardwood sourcing is also popular when looking to repair or replace parts of an existing floor.
Keeping it affordable
With a choice of plain sawn, quarter sawn and flat sawn woods and the variety of sourcing, species and type of finishing options, budgets are more easily catered for with homeowners deciding in advance how much to spend to get the look they want.
The way the floor is cut determines what type of rings and patterns are angled into the wood. Quarter sawn cuts run in wide swirls with a less ‘busy’ pattern, whereas plain sawn wood cuts give smaller size whorls, hectic pattern formations and loops. It is worth remembering that the quarter sawn cut will expand due to humidity and temperature, while plain sawn tends to shrink. On the whole quarter sawn cut hard wood is more robust and family friendly, but it is more expensive.
With engineered wood also a viable option, it is no wonder today’s homeowners lean towards real wood flooring as it is far more versatile and long lasting than carpet or lino. Created by pressing thin layers of wood veneer together and fixing to a shell of plywood and heat sealed, engineered wood can be used atop a concrete base making it suitable for old-style basements, kitchens and utility rooms.
By selecting wood flooring, homeowners are choosing a lifetime of beautiful and quality flooring which, when you take into account how little maintenance is required, is markedly more economical than many other types of flooring.
Hardwood flooring is the floor covering of choice for UK homeowners in flats, family homes and for corporate buildings. Hotels have used hardwood flooring for decades in their function rooms and with their longevity and ease of maintenance it looks like hardwood flooring will be the continuing choice for decades to come.