Wooden Flooring, Part 3 – Maintenance, labour and sustainability considerations

 

There is lots of choice when it comes to wooden flooring.  See the following maintenance, labour and sustainability considerations to help you make the best choice…

TYPE OF BOARD

Solid board– whole board made from one piece of wood)

  • This type of board should last an extremely long time as you are able to sand and re finish the floor many times as the wood is the same right through.
  • It is the most expensive.
  • Most suppliers do not recommend with underfloor heating, though this is because they often cannot guarantee the board has been dried/ the moisture content controlled.  Boards which haven’t been dried sufficiently will cup/ warp on top of underfloor heating.

Multi Layered

  • Generally, three layers of board glued together with the grain running opposite ways; this improves strength.
  • The first (visible) layer is generally a high quality hardwood 3-4mm thick.
  • The wood inside/ not visible is usually soft wood as this is a cheaper more widely available material.  Though it is worth noting that different woods react differently (i.e. to moisture/ heat etc).
  • Multi Layered is a good cheap alternative to solid boards as the softwood used is much cheaper than hardwood.
  • It usually works well with Underfloor heating*
  • However, you are only able to sand up to 3 times before the top layer will be removed; therefore not suitable if you want to change a stain colour/ re sand the floor numerous times/ extremely high traffic areas where the wood can get worn down.

Veneered

  • Softwood or manufactured board covered with a slim layer of veneer.
  • Very inexpensive option
  • Not well liked as can mark easily and cannot be sanded/ re lacquered etc.
  • In our experience tends to look fake unless a lot of money is spent on high quality; in which case Multi Layered boards would be a better option for a similar price.

INSTALLATION

  • Floating– (note usually solid boards are difficult to ‘float’ install though Junkers offer a clipping system which works well.  However few/ no other suppliers have adopted the method.)  Floating floor is useful should you need access to the floor below.
  • Gluing– (works well for most residential projects however be sure to leave a gap so the wood can breathe/ expand and detract in warmer/ cooler weathers.  Note- v.difficult/ time consuming to get floor up should anything below (i.e. pipes) need seeing to.
  • Nailed– (non visible/ visible) Again advisable to leave a small gap for the wood to move/ breathe.  Note- v.difficult/ time consuming to get floor up should anything below (i.e. pipes) need seeing to.

ACCREDITATION

There are a few different companies/ charities and organisations whom provide accreditation to hardwood.  These vary in different countries and have different standards of accreditation; something important to consider when selecting a company and a specific board.

Generally, they track the CoC- Chain of Custody; confirming that the timber has come from a properly managed forest; though it is important to note that often these organisations often allow a (small) percentage of uncertified wood into the chain.  Usually this timber is ‘risk assessed’ however most people concede that tropical woods from areas such as Brazil/ South East Asia are much less likely to have stringent protocols and assessment criteria therefore best avoided if you are concerned about accreditation and deforestation.

In Europe specifically the EUTR- EU Timber Regulation came in to effect in March 2013.  This states that it is illegal to place illegally harvested timber on the EU market.  It is generally considered that most North American and European Timber has been properly accredited with stringent checks.

 PEFC- Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

http://www.pefc.co.uk 

  • Operates in 36 countries; “is the world’s largest forest certification organisation”.
  • Relies on numerous local and international independent organisations to verify the timber.
  • Emphasises their decentralised, “bottom up” approach- “which enables local stakeholders to participate in the core activities of forest certification at national level.”
  • NOTE- Allows wood from ‘non controversial sources’ (i.e. not fully tracked CoC) into their chain- http://www.pefc.org/standards/chain-of-custody

FSC- Forest Stewardship Council

http://www.fsc-uk.org/en-uk

  • Operates worldwide though is most popular in the UK/ Europe (though European countries are more focused on getting PEFC certification).
  • Endorsed by the major environmental Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), including WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust
  • “FSC works to improve forest management worldwide, and through certification creates an incentive for forest owners and managers to follow best social and environmental practices.”
  • NOTE- “FSC allows the inclusion of uncertified wood into FSC labeled products carrying an ‘FSC Mix’ claim, as long as it has been risk assessed using mechanisms in place to exclude sources deemed “unacceptable”, a procedure also practiced by other certification schemes.”

OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Underfloor heating–  Always check with the flooring supplier and the underfloor heating company before purchasing hardwood flooring to go over underfloor heating.

  • The underfloor heating company will be able to give precise calculations on how well the heating will work with a board.
  • The floor company will be able to advise on whether their boards are suitable for underfloor heating.
  • Generally the Max temp on top of the floor is 27ºC before the boards will become damaged; this should be more than adequate heat for most rooms; though perhaps not very large spaces.

Screed underneath boards– If you are laying wood flooring over newly laid screed; it must not exceed 75% RH (Relative Humidity).

Generally, you should allow 1.5 day per mm thickness of screed for drying- though this is varied depending on type of screed and the warmth/ humidity of the area.

Damp/ wet underneath boards– If the base of the floor is susceptible to rising damp/ wet it can still be possible to lay a wooden floor by using cradle and baton solution.  This is similarly used to construct sprung floors and can be useful for noise reduction.  You should first speak to a reputable supplier about whether this is a viable option.

Acoustic Mats– Worth considering in upper floor rooms or flats.  Some apartment buildings have rules about what floors you are allowed to have in the property for acoustic reasons.

CLEANING

  • With all types of board you must use a DAMP cloth/ mop; not a wet one.
  • The floor should always be thoroughly dried and water not allowed to sit anywhere on the board (particularly edges) as this can make the wood warp/ bubble/ stain.

If you are looking at replacing your flooring as part of a larger project please get in touch; we can suggest what will work best for your space, budget and have excellent suppliers/ labourers with experience in wood flooring.