Engineered wood provides the same classic and timeless look as solid hardwood flooring, whilst boasting many additional benefits. Due to the natural properties of hardwood, it can be stained and treated to complement a plethora of environments; light and bright contemporary spaces, featureful rustic rooms packed with character, and subtle warm areas to name just a few. As standard engineered wood is manufactured as planks or parquet blocks, these can be laid straight, or in a set pattern such as herringbone or chevron. It is also possible to have a combination of the two, to create borders around a central pattern field, or to break up different areas of the home. In short; engineered wood can look and feel fantastic! However, there are a few considerations for you to make before choosing the right engineered wood for you.
Removal & Re-Fitting of skirting boards, or beading?
Engineered wood expands and contracts with changes of heat and moisture and therefore needs to be fit with an expansion gap around its outer perimeter. This also applies to any areas of the room that the flooring may encounter, such as fire hearths, kitchen end panels, or door frames and architraves. Whilst some of these smaller areas, for example door frames, can be undercut to fit underneath, this is not a practical solution for larger areas of contact, such as skirting boards. To create the neatest finish, it is recommended to remove the skirting boards where possible, leaving an expansion gap adjacent to the wall, and refitting the skirting boards back on top to hide the gap from sight. It is not always pragmatic to remove skirting boards, as in some cases this can cause damage to the skirting boards and walls and may not be possible due to radiator pipes being in the way (We can offer advice about the suitability of this during your home measure appointment).
Where items cannot be undercut, or removed and refit, there are several other options such as beading. Beading can be supplied to match the engineered wood flooring or can come as primed MDF or softwood, suitable for painting. Many people opt for primed beading so that they can paint it to match the existing skirting boards or furniture, creating a subtle and discreet solution for expansion gaps. It is worth noting that opting for beading is usually much more cost-effective than removing and refitting the skirting boards.
Choosing the right finish for your flooring
There is a variety of methods used to finish engineered wood, to help enhance the grain, boast the richness of its colour and most importantly to protect it against surface abrasion and discolouration. These finishes include oiled, lacquered, brushed and oiled, brushed and lacquered, smoked, UV oiled, and hand scraped to name just a few. For our purposes, we are just going to look at the considerations of oiled and lacquered finishes:
Oiled floors are the most common of the two and offer a greater enrichment of colour and grain definition. Oil offers a more natural look and works by seeping into the grain of the wood which helps to strengthen it. The reapplication of oil is required periodically due to its ability to soak into the wood and become discoloured with exposure to sunlight over time. This process is usually quite straight forward and shouldn’t take to much time.
Lacquered floors are the hardiest of the two. Unlike oil, lacquer sits on top of the oak veneer providing a hard protective shell which protects the floor from scratches and abrasion whilst also making it easier to clean. Lacquered floors are usually more glossy than oiled floors, creating a slight sheen where the light reflects off it. A lacquer usually offers better protection against UV damage than its oiled counterpart. If a lacquered floor is damaged or needs refreshing and bringing back to life, it is usually the job of a professional floor fitter to sand down the entire area and re-lacquer the floor.
How much prep work will be involved?
Most engineered wood floors can be floated on top of a specialist underlayment, designed to create a stable base for the flooring, dampen the noise from clambering footsteps and offer protection against moisture in the sub floor. That being said, the sub floor must be suitably level and smooth before commencing fitting as undulations in the sub floor can often lead to future problems (This will be assessed during your home measure appointment). In some circumstances, such as when laying herringbone, the engineered wood flooring must be fully adhered to the sub floor using a specialist adhesive. This usually means additional preparatory work is required to ensure the sub floor is sufficient for fitting, such as applying a smoothing compound, overlaying with plywood or applying a moisture suppressant.
Still not sure?
To find out more about choosing the right engineered wood flooring for you, get in touch with our team of experts at the shop, who can talk you through it and help bring your project to life.