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Choosing the right wood flooring

You have a multitude of options when it comes to flooring, but let’s assume you’re only interested in wooden flooring, or at least a floor with a wood effect. Your first decision is to select between laminate, vinyl, solid wood, and engineered wood flooring. Each of these options vary in terms of their cost, appearance, feel, and suitability for different environments, so it’s important to make the right choice for your home. Let’s take a look at them:

Laminate flooring

Laminate is a popular choice with many homeowners because of its low cost, although very cheap laminate can have an unrealistic finish and a shorter life expectancy. Laminate is made from compressed fibreboard with a photographic finish in the desired effect. This is then covered with a protective overlay that protects this finish.

Laminate floor has many pros and cons. It’s generally unsuitable for kitchens and bathrooms because of the potential for water exposure, although products like the Aqua Step range are completely waterproof and suitable for use in wet areas. Overall, laminate is cheap and wears well, but damage is impossible to repair, and replacing damaged planks can be difficult due to the click-lock system.

Luxury vinyl tiles (LVTs)

Vinyl flooring presents another synthetic approach to getting a wood-effect floor. Unlike the traditional sheets that come off a role, LVTs come as individual tiles or planks. As is the case with laminate, LVTs have a photographic effect and protective overlay on the visible side. Unlike standard laminate, however, LVTs are entirely waterproof and suitable for use anywhere in the home.

Luxury vinyl tiles either come as individual tiles that are stuck to the subfloor (possibly with a self-adhesive layer) or as planks with a click-lock system to create a floating floor. You can also enjoy endless creativity with vinyl tiles, as different effects can be combined to create numerous patterns.

For all its benefits, VLTs require a well-prepared subfloor, so you will want to find a professional in the Liverpool area that can do the preparation and installation.

Solid hardwood flooring

Even the best laminate and vinyl flooring is not quite the same as the real thing. This is where solid hardwood flooring comes in. Unlike the previous options, though, you need to decide on more than just the colour and effect. You’ll also want to find a qualified tradesperson in the Liverpool area to install your hardwood floor.

Site-finished or pre-finished

Solid wood flooring comes as solid wood planks. You can get these planks either with a raw visible side or with the sealant and topcoat pre-applied. The choice is mostly a matter of preference. For the former, you’ll need a skilled professional to finish the floor after installation, but this does mean you have more control over the finish. In the latter case, you’ll know upfront exactly what you’re going to get. Installation will also be faster because there’s no need for an on-site finish.

Choosing the finish

The finish can affect the appearance and functionality of your floor, so it’s an important decision. There are numerous finishes to choose from, but they fall into two basic groups: polyurethane and oil.

A polyurethane finish is the more hardwearing option, because it forms a hard topcoat over the wood. This makes it ideal for well-travelled areas or rooms where children often play.

The choice isn’t necessarily simple, however, because an oil finish can give a softer, more natural feel that many people prefer. In addition, while oil-finished floors are more susceptible to scratches, the damage is less noticeable and easier to repair. It essentially comes down to a choice between doing less maintenance more often and more maintenance less often.

Choosing the wood

There are many types of hardwood to choose from, each with its own appearance and qualities. Oak is a popular traditional choice because of its durable nature, its ability to take stain, and its pleasant natural grain. There are also many other varieties to choose from, however, including varieties from around the world.

You can also get your planks cut with different grains for a variety of effects. Whether a log is plain sawn, rift sawn, or quarter sawn determines the appearance of the grain. Plain sawn is the version with the undulating patterns that you’re probably used to, while the grain on rift and quarter sewn wood tends to be longer and more linear. There is no such thing as a wrong choice when it comes to the grain, just your personal preference.

Plank size

Your final choice is the plank size. Traditionally, solid wood floors all used smaller planks, maybe two or three inches across. These days, however, wider planks are becoming a popular way to create an impression of luxury. There are a couple of downsides, however. First, larger planks tend to be more expensive. Second, the seams may become more noticeable when the wood shifts, because these shifts are spread over fewer planks.

There is also a multitude of ways that planks can be arranged. For example, parquet flooring involves arranging the individual wooden slats to create geometrical patterns that can have a striking effect on a room.

Engineered wood flooring

Another viable solution is engineered wood flooring. Unlike laminate and vinyl, which contain no real wood, engineered wood flooring has a layer of real wood on the visible side, with the rest of the plank comprising bonded layers of cheaper woods. This gives the appearance of a solid wood floor at a lower cost. You should pay attention to the thickness of the top layer, however, because this will determine how many times it can be sanded and refinished. Some cheaper products may not even be suitable for a single sanding.

Engineered wood flooring also offers other advantages. First, the engineered layers are arranged in different directions, creating opposing forces that limit the natural movement of the wood. Second, engineered wood can be installed directly over concrete without the need for plywood subfloor. Despite these advantages, many people still prefer the feel of a solid wood floor.

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