TileStyle's Wood Flooring and Stone Specialist Fintan Farrelly was featured on Newstalk's Sean Moncrieff Show discussing all things wood. Fintan's answers to listeners' queries below cover lots of topics including: 

  • Types of wood floors
  • Engineered wood explained
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • Parquet explained
  • Maintenance of wood floors

Q: I'm thinking of installing wood, how many different sorts are there and how do they vary? 

A: Generally, we have solid woods and then we have engineered woods, most on the market now will be engineered as opposed to solid. We also have laminates and luxury vinyl tiles or LVTs.

Q: What does engineered mean?

A: An engineered wood has several layers, usually three. A top wear layer such as an oak, which is a hardwood. Then the bottom layers would either be a plywood or a softwood which is a faster growing species. A couple of reasons why we do this - an oak tree can take up to 120 years of growth before it will actually be ready to yield the product that we need to make that wear layer. So it's a long process and we're obviously much more environmentally friendly these days. So the faster growing species is used on the underside of the wood as it doesn't get used and it never gets seen. So why have oak all the way through? It's a more sustainable approach.


Q: What do you think of laminates?

A: I also sell laminate floors as well, they're a more budget friendly option for people's homes. Technology is always improving and they're much more authentic than they used to be. Great for bedrooms and for young families. They are extremely hard wearing and very durable. 

Q: What do you think about putting solid or engineered wood into a kitchen as it's a part of the house that sees a lot of traffic?

A: So what I can tell you from my own experience is that I used to have marble floors in my kitchen and dining room and now I have engineered oak floors. We've had everything going on from football boots to high heels what with three teenagers and a dog. I'm TileStyle's Wood and Stone Specialist and I love both, I love natural materials. But I'm getting older and wooden floors are softer on our joints and naturally warm. We found the marble floors were cold underneath bare feet where wood is naturally warm. Wood is an insulator so it holds in the heat. 

Q: What mistakes do people make when installing wood floors?

A: Generally it's in the floor preparation. The floor has to be flat, clean and dry. Your substrate might be concrete or a prepared joisted floor with something like plywood. If it's not flat, clean and dry, if there's humps and bumps - it's going to show through. Your floor is not going to cover that. You get hollows in it, you get voids and then you'll get noise through the floor. The flatter it is the easier it is for you to fit the floor.

Q: What can I do to restore a very faded walnut engineered floor due to sunlight? The floor has been down 15 years.

A: You've done very well to have a floor for 15 years if you haven't done anything with it. I would suggest bringing in a specialist to take the lacquer off the floor. If it was installed 15 years ago I would think it's either a satin lacquer or matte lacquer so that needs to be removed. Your specialist then can apply another coating or a darkened coating on top of that and then apply the top coat on top of that and you'll get another 12 to 15 years from it.

Q: What is parquet and why is it more expensive ? 

A: Parquet is small pieces of wood arranged in geometric patterns, it's French for small pieces of wood. The manufacturer has a lot more work to do and there's a lot more machining involved. Fitting wise parquet flooring will generally have about 15% waste, as opposed to plank floors which is about 5%. So again, there's an extra cost to that. One of the biggest cost elements is actually the fitting process of the floor because there's a lot more cutting to be done and people like borders in it as well. So yes, your parquet flooring will always be more expensive. But you can buy very good quality laminate and LVTs in parquet and they look great. I encourage people to look at these options too as they can appear very authentic. 


Q: What about vinyl floors?

A: Nowadays we have LVTs - luxury vinyl tiles. Vinyl floors have been on the market a long time and are a wonderful product but there are new advancements. The older vinyls used to be a very thin product, the floor had to be as flat as a billiard table and it was stuck down to it. Modern technology now is to have a click floor similar to a laminate. The engineering is very similar to a click floor and it floats on top, you don't bond it to the actual substrate itself. The under layer is made from crushed stone and then the top layer is a vinyl or plastic with a printed image of whatever that floor is to look like - whether it be stone or wood.

 Q: Would you put something underneath it?

A: Yes you generally would put an underlay and that does a couple of things. It separates the two floors from each other so they're allowed to move independent of each other. If you're floating a floor they also work as a damp proof membrane so it stops any moisture that might be in the concrete. When we were building our homes years ago we didn't always have a DPM. So you need to be very careful in older homes. And then it also helps with soundproofing as well. If there's a void between two floors you're always going to get that knocking sound. So if you buy a good quality underlay it will also help to remove the sound and hollowness of it.


Q: What are your thoughts on wood effect tiles? 

A: They have evolved tremendously with new technology and digital printing. Manufacturers will actually photograph the real thing and then print onto the face of the tile. And they now add texture which helps with slip resistance as well. So they're becoming much more realistic. Even though as TileStyle's Wood and Stone Specialist they are a competitor for me, they do have some great advantages! They're pretty much bulletproof, they're very hard to mark and very hard to scratch. They're a lifetime job, there's very little maintenance required.

Why not speak to our specialists about your home renovation plans today. Call 01-855 5200 or email

Main image courtesy Tony Gavin Photography

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