How Hardwood Flooring Has Changed

*The following is written for the RSD blog by Jonathan Sapir M.D. of Wood and Beyond. They are ethical FSC certified vendors of hardwood from engineered to solid hardwoods.

Hardwood flooring has changed profoundly in recent years. These changes in floorboard technology, colour and texture mean that hardwood can fit a greater number of interiors than ever before. Here’s our visual recap to the latest trends in hardwood flooring.

Sustainable Sourcing

Individuals are often concerned that their decision to fit natural hardwood will lead to the demise of natural habitat. In truth, thanks to organisation such as the FSC (FSC Forest Stewardship Council), hardwoods from trusted vendors are sourced from sustainable forests where trees are consumed based on a rigorous and controlled quota and new trees are planted instead. This process is called managed sourcing. Your vendor of choice will be able to share the origin of the hardwood.

Solid Hardwood Flooring
{Solid Hardwood Flooring}

Hardwood Types

One of the main changes in recent years is the suitability of hardwood flooring in all areas of the interior, even in wet or warm areas. This is thanks to new floorboard technology that uses natural hardwood and reusable materials combined. Therefore your options vary between the traditional ‘solid’ type, to the newer ‘engineered’ alternative.

Solid Hardwood – Each floorboard is made from whole (hence solid) hardwood. It suits most interiors whether residential or commercial in nature, but for wet or warm areas. In such areas natural wood will get out of shape due to expansion and contraction. Solid hardwood can exceed 100 years of service life, and can therefore be moved from one property to the next, a process called reclaiming wood flooring. This process is incredibly green.

Engineered Hardwood – Each floorboard is made from solid wood (again), but only in the form of a top layer. The core of the floorboard below this layer is made from reusable materials such as recycled plywood and softwood. Contrary to solid hardwood, you can fit the engineered type across the entire project, even in the kitchen and bathroom areas that are traditionally considered off limits to natural wood.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring
{Engineered Hardwood Flooring}

Hardwood Colours

Most hardwoods are of a brownish creamy shade in their natural state. However these colours don’t always sit well with the colour scheme you have in mind. Therefore it is possible nowadays to source hardwood floors in a wide array of untraditional colours, from dark to light and even bold colours in between. Here are some examples:

Fire Oak Hardwood flooring
{Fire oak}

Light Oak timber flooring
{Light Oak}

Dark Oak timber flooring
{Dark Oak}

Hardwood Texture

The texture of the floorboards is comprised of the finish and grade. Hardwood floorboards are covered in a thin layer of translucent chemical often called the finish or coating. It serves to protect the wood from minor damage, but also has an impact on the visual appearance of the floorboard. Grade on the other hand, will determine the consistency of natural features such as sapwood, knots and colour variation in the floorboard.

Finish – Options vary between oil based and lacquered based liquids. Oil is the more rugged of the two and will often result in a slight matt finish. On the other hand, lacquer is quicker to wear, but very importantly, it will make the floorboard waterproof for use in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Depending on the number of coats, it can result in a somewhat glossy look.

Grade – Natural hardwood features sapwood, grain markings, knots and colour changes. Floorboards that contain minimal amount of these natural features with a uniform look are of the higher grades, typically the ‘select’ and ‘prime’ grades. Floorboards that contain plenty of these features e.g. random sapwood, knots and frequent colour variations are of the lower grades such as ‘country’ and ‘rustic’ grades.

Prime grade timber flooring
{Prime grade timber flooring}

Rustic timber flooring
{Rustic timber flooring}

Note that grade is merely a visual indication and there isn’t a connection to quality in any shape or form. Simply a question of the right grade to suit the right interior.

If you are considering fitting hardwood floors and you found these considerations overwhelming, it is often a good idea to consult with an interior designer.

Thanks for reading.

PS. This was not a sponsored ad, but rather an interesting article that I thought you might all find useful. If I didn't agree with the content, I would not publish it. Thanks for your interest and let me know if you found it helpful.

xo Romona

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