10th March 2014 | IN PRODUCT | BY SBID ShareTweetPinterestLinkedInFlooring are not merely practical in nature, but are often used to create a stylish statement. There are many options to choose from, be it vinyl, tile, carpet and of course wood. In this post we will explain your choices and considerations should you decide to venture in the direction of wood flooring. What Are My Wood Flooring Choices The definition of real wood flooring determines that the floorboards must be made entirely or at least contain some hardwood. Therefore, options such as laminate, vinyl and wood effect are clearly not considered real wood flooring, even if the floorboard is artificially made to look like real wood. There are two types that meet this definition, one called solid and the second engineered wood. Solid Wood Flooring – These floorboards are made entirely of hardwood. Of the two types, the solid type is the more commonly fitted floorboard and suits most settings. It is limited only by the natural reaction of wood to expand when temperature rises and to contract when temperature drops. Therefore it is unwise to fit solid wood flooring in wet, humid or fluctuating temperature areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and basement areas. If that isn’t the case in the project, solid wood flooring is truly fantastic. Engineered Wood Flooring – These floorboards are also made using hardwood though at a lesser extent. The floorboard is made from layered construction, which uses hardwood as the top layer, supported by MDF and Plywood below. It means that engineered wood looks 100% identical to its solid alternative, though not as strong in the long run (average service life of 25 years). However, unlike solid wood floor, these engineered alternatives can be fitted across the entire project and that includes wet, humid and even areas with under floor heating. If these conditions are ripe where you intend to fit wood flooring, you should consider the engineered type full stop. What Are My Colour Choices In its natural state, 99% of hardwoods feature a golden brown colour. There are small selections of tropical hardwoods that are naturally lighter or darker in colour, but due to their exotic location and questionable ethical sourcing, these are hard to come by. Mostly you will come across species such as Oakwood, Walnut, Pine and Ash, which are available from sustainable sourced and appear golden in colour. However, suppliers have developed numerous technologies designed to colour the floorboards thereby making wood flooring suitable in a greater number of interiors. Colours from white, to dark to grey and even red are not unheard of. What Are My Texture Choices The texture of the floorboard is made up of the grade and finish. Hardwood features telltale signs of its origin such as grain markings, sapwood and knots. The presence of these on the floorboard is measured, and the floorboard gets its grade. Higher end luxury grades such as ‘prime’ and ‘select’ feature very few sapwood and knots, and overall these floorboards feature a consistent look. On the other side of the scaling grade, you will find the ‘country’ and ‘rustic’ grades, which feature plenty of sapwood and knots. As well as changing the visual appearance the floorboard, these two grades will give the floorboard a soft texture feel. Your choice of one grade over the other will depend on the interior, as it has no effect on quality. The finish of the floorboard will also influence the texture. Finish is a clear liquid substance that is applied onto the floorboard to provide some protection in an effort to reduce wear. Commonly, suppliers use either oil or lacquer substances. Oil is light enough to seep into the wood thereby having very little effect on texture, but on the other hand lacquer is too thick to seep in and therefore remains on the surface giving the floorboard a smooth texture feel. Furthermore, oil finish (depending on the number of coats applied) will result in a matt finish, while the lacquer substance and especially the UV substances lacquer will result in a glossy finish. The easiest way to decide on wood flooring is to split your decision making into two parts. Part one is a practical one, deciding whether to plumb for engineered or solid hardwood, while part two is where your creativity can flourish in terms of colour, texture and finish choice. Written by Jonathan Sapir, M.D. of London based Wood and Beyond. Wood and Beyond are ethical vendors of hardwood from flooring to decking and worktops.