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A guide to real wood flooring

If you want to add a rustic yet classic touch to your Liverpool home, wooden flooring is an elegant option. Not all wooden floors are created equal, though, so here’s a quick guide to the various options:

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring is the gold standard for wooden flooring. If you have a generous budget and a desire for the very best, hardwood flooring is for you. You can choose from a variety of hardwearing materials, such as oak, maple, cherry and ash, so you can be sure one will fit in with your décor. If none of the traditional woods appeal to you, there are also some more exotic options to consider. Hardwood flooring can be laid over a subfloor, but some types can even be used as the structural floor.

Before you opt for a hardwood floor, it’s important to consider that hardwood flooring dislikes moisture because it’s an all-natural product. In a humid area, the planks tend to contract in winter, which may leave small gaps between some of the planks. In contrast, they may swell during humid summer days, resulting in unsightly bulges. A good flooring specialist will be able to tell you if an area is suitable for hardwood flooring. A professional will also know how to compensate for some inevitable contraction and swelling.

Hardwood planks come in a range of thicknesses (typically 9-20 mm) and widths (90-200 mm) to suit the look you’re trying to create. One of the big advantages of solid hardwood flooring is that you can periodically sand it to remove accumulated marks and scratches, so thicker planks may be more desirable if you can accommodate them in your budget. You may also be able to choose between an oiled or lacquer finish. An oiled finish tends to look more natural, but lacquer is generally more resilient.

Engineered flooring

A cost effective alternative to solid hardwood flooring is engineered wood flooring. These boards are constructed by layering and gluing thin layers of different woods over each other. A final layer of veneer in the chosen hardwood is then added to the visible side. The result is a very strong flooring plank that has the appearance of real wood.

However, some people may feel that engineered wood flooring doesn’t have the same “feel” as real hardwood flooring. As there is only a relatively thin layer of hardwood, you may be limited in terms of how many times you can sand it.

On the other hand, engineered wood flooring does enjoy some great advantages over solid hardwood flooring. Much less hardwood is needed, so the lower layers can be made from less expensive and more environmentally sustainable sources. Engineered wood flooring is also treated to prevent the swelling and contraction found with real wood. This means you can install it in many places where the humidity would cause problems for a solid wood floor.

If there is excessive moisture coming through the subfloor, longstrip planks can be used instead. This engineered wooden flooring is fitted over an underlay grid. It essentially “floats” over the subfloor, making it much less susceptible to moisture from below.

Installation

Installing a hardwood floor is not an easy task for an amateur. Given the substantial investment in the materials alone, it’s advisable to hire a professional. This will also ensure that the area is suitable for hardwood flooring and the subfloor is suitably prepared.

Caring for your new floor

A wooden floor is a long-term investment. If cared for, it will enjoy a long lifetime without accumulating stains, mildew or unpleasant odours. That said, there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure that your floor will last the test of time.

Real wood floors are not compatible with water, so mopping with a typical water-based solution is not advisable. Instead, the flooring manufacturer should be able to recommend some suitable alternative cleaning products. Make sure you keep the instructions that come with your floor for future reference, because using certain cleaning agents may adversely affect your floor’s appearance.

Wooden flooring is more resilient to stains than carpet, but you should still clean up any spills in a timely fashion. This is especially true of red wine, because if left long enough, it may soak into the grain and leave a permanent stain. In the unlikely event of this happening, you should always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines before taking any action.

A little extra care is also needed to prevent furniture from causing scratches. If any furniture will be in direct contact with the floor, the feet should be covered with felt protectors, and any wheels should be housed in furniture coasters. Particularly heavy objects, such as grand pianos, will require wide-bearing, non-staining floor protectors.

Gravel and other small stones brought in from the outside can also cause scratches. While you can never entirely prevent these from entering your home, having good doormats at all entrances will help considerably. Regularly vacuuming with a soft-bristle attachment will also help by removing any stones or gravel before they can cause scratches or become embedded in the wood.

If you have a particularly large floor, you may want to create zones with rugs. These are also a great way to give your décor a facelift, because they’re so easy to swap. As a side benefit, they can help protect heavily trodden areas.

No matter how well you look after your floor, a time may eventually come when you want to have it sanded to get that “good as new” look. You can find specialists in Liverpool that use modern machinery to effectively sand floors with a minimum amount of dust. Three coats of polyurethane clear seal are then usually applied, with a further light sanding before the final coat. This results in a perfect finish that is tough and easy to clean while allowing the wood’s natural beauty to show through. You will then be able to enjoy the beauty of your wooden floor for years to come.

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