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Wooden Flooring, Part 2 – Aesthetic choices

By June 16, 2016February 18th, 2020Flooring and Finishes, Design, Knowledge & Tips

Following a (RIBA approved) talk on Hardwood floors by Junkers; we have complied a detailed list of Aesthetic considerations to help you make the best choice for your style, space and budget…

TYPES OF WOOD–  Main types.

  • Oak– most common in UK.
  • Beech– most common in Europe and very good for sports floors
  • Maple– again excellent for sports floors.
  • Ash– can be a very varied wood in colour and knots.  Always get a large sample or a photo of a whole room done to get a better idea of how this wood will look overall.
  • Tropical woods– Typically redder woods; were popular in the late 90’s though not so much currently. These are difficult to get from reliable sources; (I.e. Australian Red Wood is not allowed to be taken out of the country.  Brazil, South East Asia and China are areas v.difficult to accredit.
  • Bamboo– extremely fast growing + useful wood however despite better accreditation and forest maintenance; Bamboo forests are being reduced each year.  It is almost impossible to fully accredit the wood.


Each type of wood usually comes in 3 variances; with varying amounts of knots and colour/ grain differences.

  1. A/ Classic– Classic has the least/ no knots or variations
  • It is most expensive as each tree will only give a small amount of classic grade wood.
  • It is usually most popular grade.
  • Note marks/ dents stand out on this grade.
  1. B/ Harmony– The ‘in-between’ grade. Has more knots/ variances that classic but less than rustic.
  • Good mid range option.
  1. C/ Rustic– Lots of knots and variance on colour/ grain.
  • Least expensive as each tree produces a lot of knotted boards.
  • Marks and dents are easily missed in the natural patterns and details of this grade.

Variance is not the same as quality.  Aesthetically the wood looks different, HOWEVER the quality is exactly the same.


  • Planks– Most common; different length and widths available
  • Finger Parquet/ Square basket– Small parquet flooring.  Can look beautiful though often considered old fashioned.
  • Herringbone– becoming more popular.  Works best with slim, mid length boards.
  • Matchstick– detailed, labour intensive to install.  Works best glued down in smaller areas with less traffic.
  • Other– there are many other options available for pattern but these tend to be more labour intensive to source and install.


Lacquer– Protective layer on top of the wood.

  • From Matt to Shiny by percentage.
  • Recommended for areas which may get wet.
  • Lasts for years dependent on wear, however when worn- whole area will need sanding and re-lacquering.  (for example not a problem in residential however would not work for an airport for example as whole area would need closing whilst sanded and re-lacquered.)
  • Works well for sports floors/ painted floors as you can add two layers of lacquer and only sand off the top layer (not the paint/ sports field marking) before retreating.
  • Sustainability- check the Lacquer VOC levels (Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) refers to carbon-based chemicals that evaporate at room temperature).
  • Much more hardwearing than Varnish (which is not suitable for flooring)
  • UV lacquer available to protect wood from sun bleaching.

Oil– applied to floor and seeps in building up a protective layer.

  • Natural looking matt finish
  • Needs reapplying regularly- the wood will go lighter when it needs reapplying.
  • Small/ more worn areas can be oiled as needed as there is no need to sand down first or do a whole area at once- the newly oiled area blends in (though it can take up to a week to blend.)
  • Sustainable oil options available.
  • UV oil available to protect wood from sun bleaching.

Stain– for colouring the wood

  • Gives the wood a different appearance/ colour (can be used to make a less expensive/ already in place wood look like a preferred wood).
  • Stain sinks in and requires deeper sanding if applying a different colour stain/ different finish altogether.
  • Sustainability- check the Lacquer VOC levels.

Fume– heat and ammonia give the wood a darker finish and natural seal

  • Works best with beech as the wood can be fumed all the way through giving the same finish should you sand down.  Oak doesn’t fume right through so best only done if you do not intend to sand the board right down for a different finish.

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.

See Part 3 for more details on wood flooring…

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