WOOD FLOORING FAQs
WOOD FLOORING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What is the difference between solid wood, engineered wood, and laminate?
Solid wood is made from a single piece of natural wood, it can be oak, maple, ash or any other number of tree species.
Engineered wood is made from natural wood, but rather than being a single piece, engineered wood is made by joining layers of material together. Engineered wood is typically made up of two or three layers – the surface or ‘wear-layer’ is often made from hardwood, with the base layers being made from other raw materials, commonly Pine/Spruce/Douglas fir. This process of clever manufacturing creates a product that is both more environmentally friendly and more mechanically stable than solid wood, without compromising on the beauty of a natural hardwood floor.
Laminate flooring is also comprised of multiple layers. Laminate flooring has a highly resistant, transparent wear layer on the surface, a design layer below which creates the pattern of the floor i.e. grain, colour etc. and a base layer made of sturdy HDF (High Density Fibreboard).
2. What type of floor should I buy if I’m using an underfloor heating system?
Most types of flooring are compatible with underfloor heating systems (UFH). The main exception to this is solid wood. Solid wood can be unstable if used in conjunction with UFH and can be prone to movement which is less than ideal. If you want a natural wood floor to use in conjunction with an underfloor heating system then engineered wood is usually the ideal option. If you want a highly durable, maintenance free floor to use in conjunction with an UFH system, you could use laminate or LVT. If you are unsure however, one of our wood specialists at TileStyle would be happy to discuss your project in greater detail and recommend suitable products.
3. Do the terms Hardwood floor and Solid wood floor mean the same thing?
Not exactly – Hardwood refers to the species of tree that the flooring is made from, for example, Oak, Maple and Ash are types of hardwood. Spruce, Pine and Larch are types of softwood. This term can be slightly misleading as hardwood is not necessarily harder or more dense than soft wood.
The terms come from the fact we refer to deciduous trees which lose their leaves annually as hardwood (these trees grow slowly and as a rule of thumb tend to be more dense) and referring to coniferous or evergreen trees which retain their foliage year round (conifers tend to grow faster than deciduous and as such are less dense).
Solid wood simply refers to the construction of the piece of flooring. You could have solid hardwood (a solid oak floor for example), or a solid softwood floor (pitch pine is a softwood floor a lot of us would have seen in Ireland).
An engineered oak floor could be referred to as an engineered hardwood floor.
4. Is a solid wood floor more hard-wearing than an engineered floor?
Not necessarily. If we compared a piece of solid oak flooring next to a piece of engineered oak flooring, on the surface their resistances to scratches or damage would be identical as the surface material is the same. The differences between solid and engineered wood are only apparent below the surface and as such do not really affect the wearing capabilities of the floor.
5. Can I re-sand my solid wood floor? How about an engineered wood floor?
Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished a number of times, which is a big positive when considering what type of floor works best for your home. Modern day sanding machines are dust free and a professional can sand and refinish your solid wood floor with minimal disruption and have your solid wood floor looking like brand new. You can even choose to stain your wood floor a new colour during this process – meaning your solid wood floor can evolve with the trends as the years go by!
Engineered wood floors can also be sanded and refinished in most cases. This is dependent on the ‘wear-layer’ of your floor. An engineered wood could have up to 6mm of the surface material (Oak/Ash/Maple etc.), meaning you could have this layer sanded and refinished just like a solid oak floor. The difference being a smaller wear layer means you likely won’t be able to sand and refinish an engineered floor quite as many times as you could sand and refinish a solid wood floor.
6. Are wood floors suitable for use in a kitchen?
Absolutely! Wood floors are protected either with a lacquered or oiled finish (read more on differences between lacquer and oil below); these finishes are what make wood flooring water or stain resistant. With wood being a natural product it is definitely not immune to damage, but with the right care (cleaning up spills as they happen and not allowing liquid to stand on the surface for extended periods of time) and the right maintenance products (a quick clean and application of either lacquer refresher or maintenance wax) you can expect a wood floor in your kitchen to be a staple feature of your home for a very long time.
7. What is the difference between a ‘floating’ floor and a ‘glue-down’ floor, and which option works best for me?
A floating floor simply refers to the way a floor is installed, this installation method can be used for solid wood, engineered, laminates or LVT floors. Floating simply means the floor is ‘loosely’ laid on your sub-floor, and not stuck in place. Floating installations are fast to install, saving time and money, and comes with some extra benefits, namely if you ever wanted to change your floating floor it can be uplifted very easily. You could even uplift a floating floor and choose to have it reinstalled in another area. If you choose to go for a floating floor you usually have to use underlay beneath your floor and choosing to go for a premium, high quality underlay will make a big difference to the comfort and noise levels in your home over the years to come.
A glue-down installation is as straight forward as it sounds. Your floor gets glued down to the subfloor (this can be concrete, poured screed etc.) and it really is as simple as that! A glue-down installation can be slightly more costly when it comes to installation as it will take your contractor longer to do, but it comes with some benefits of its own – namely a glue-down installation will make your floor feel extremely ‘solid’ in the sense that there will be no movement in the floor, and the noise levels will be the lowest out of all the installation options. People often associate parquet flooring with looking and feeling very solid, the reason for this is parquet flooring is almost always glued in place and as such has gained a reputation for the solid feel that comes with a glue-down installation.